International Preparatory Class (IPC)

For new residents and guest students

Berthold-Gymnasium offers an International Preparatory Class (IPC) for children and young people whose families are moving to Freiburg or have just arrived here and are seeking grammar-school education for their children. Our IPC can also be the suitable alternative for guest students spending only one year in a German school. Accordingly, students from A like Australia, S like Switzerland, T like Turkey, to V like Venezuela are attending Berthold-Gymnasium. For the school year of 2019/2020, we are going to establish an IPC again and are looking forward to spending an exciting time together.

German as a second language

In this class, young people whose mother tongues are not German are going to work together. In the subject German as a Second Language, basic knowledge and advanced skills in written and spoken German are taught up to the standard of proficiency of B2 (according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR).
With the IPC, we aim at fully integrating the students in regular grammar-school classes according to their age. That can – depending on the students’ preconditions and individual progress – take up to one year. Yet even after their integration in regular classes, support in German will continue. To be able to pass the German A-Levels (Abitur) successfully, they should have acquired the standards of proficiency of B2 to C1.

Curriculum and timetable

In 2017, Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Education defined the framework for IPC curricula in general secondary schools. It was designed by experts both from the field and from research and contains guidelines for teaching German and the social sciences. These guidelines also define our teaching.
In Berthold-Gymnasium, each student receives his or her individual timetable. With German as a Second Language being taught separately, they will join the regular classes e.g. P.E., mathematics, biology and art education. That means that the students will work in the same environment as German native speakers in their regular classes. In the course of the school year, the number of lessons and subjects in the regular classes will increase for the IPC students.

Team IPC

Our IPC team consists of regular Berthold-Gymnasium teachers for German as a Second Language as well as our social worker and numerous volunteers helping with homework and academic studies. In addition to the regular school program, there is also a wide range of joint projects, excursions, school events and counseling, which facilitate the students’ individual development and career choices. Thus, those children and young people will get the best possible support in integrating into their new German school and their new home.

Admission to the IPC

We admit children from year five to year eight or nine. If you are relocating from abroad to Germany, are looking for a suitable grammar school for your child and are interested in our IPC, please do not hesitate to contact us via mail or telephone in order to arrange for an appointment through our secretary. We would be happy to invite you and your child to an interview and – should the need arise – to make it possible for your child to sit in on classes. Please do bring with you your child‘s last report card, ID documents and birth certificate.

Our IPC’s beginnings

Facing the great influx of refugees in 2015, many schools (four of which in Freiburg) established IPCs. Berthold-Gymnasium’s first IPC consisted of 24 students coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey. Many of those children, knowing only Farsi and Arabic, had yet to learn the Latin alphabet. All families had fled from conflicts and wars that had left their marks on these families’ lives for many years.
Berthold-Gymnasium’s school administration volunteered to establish the IPC and the school community considered welcoming these young people a humanitarian duty. Their school education and integration were for us – lacking any experience in that field – a challenge greater than we could have imagined. The dedication of our teachers, the German fellow-students and the volunteers, who we first found through the Civic Association Oberwiehre/Waldsee, was beyond our wildest dreams. The commitment and efforts of everybody involved, both professionals and volunteers, were the foundation of our common success: The new students in Berthold-Gymnasium could again experience a structured life, they learned to speak and write German, and gained insight into German culture, society and politics. Above all, they found new friends and now call Freiburg their new home. Last year, some older students continued their training in other professional schools; in July 2019, six students between 15 and 17 acquired their German secondary school diplomas. This is an important foundation for their further school and professional training. We are very proud of it!

The IPC’s future perspective

Originally, establishing the IPC derived from a crisis situation, and in the last few years fine and sustainable concepts of modern teaching of German as a Second Language have been developed. And we have come to the conclusion that an IPC in a grammar school should not merely be a provisional arrangement in Germany’s migration society but a permanent and beneficial institution. The immigrants’ skills in German are a crucial requirement for their successful integration and further progress in life.

That is why we in Berthold-Gymnasium continue to offer all gifted young people whose mother tongue is not German the opportunity to acquire a grammar school education, which might later lead to an academic college degree.

Sybille Buske

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