Rainer Sturm PIXELIO - refined
Hamburg offers bilingual kindergartens and schools over a wide area. It has three international schools with English concepts, a French and a Japanese school.
Creches & Kindergartens (taking children from 1 to 6 years old)*
The creches, kindergartens and primary schools listed below offer the so-called English language immersion. This means that there are two caretakers, one speaking English (or any other chosen language as per the institute's concept) and the other one speaking German. The foreign language is integrated into daily life while the language of communication, or immersion, is English. The children will have contact with the foreign language for at least half of the opening hours. There are also creches doing the same with other languages. The concept is targeted to German children, but if your child does already speak some basic German, these concepts may also be an alternative.
Kindergarten only (taking children aged 3 – 6 years)*
The kindergartens listed below work by the immersive concept - one German native and one English (or another language) teacher jointly taking care of the children.
You need a place for your toddler
We will help you find a free place in a creche, with a childminder or in a kindergarten in your neighborhood. Cost depends on your demand. Hence please contact us.
Hamburg is one of the very few states which holds on to the pre-school concept. If you have a child aged 4-5, you will likely receive a letter from your local primary school inviting you to an interview. The information about the age of your child is taken from your registration in Hamburg.
It is more or less obligatory to accept the interview, but there is no need to worry at all. The interviews are held in a friendly non-judgemental atmosphere, although mostly in German. You are free to have somebody accompany you, however, most expatriates manage on their own. The way the interviews are held are school-specific. Hence one cannot really say what will happen exactly. Some schools perform group meetings so that they can see the children interact. No pressure will be executed, and your child's language and speech capability is evaluated in play mode. The objective of the interview is to gather your own perception of your child's language development and mirror it with a neutral person. It will also be helpful to speak to your child's kindergarten teacher and get her opinion, too. After all, the aim is to bring all children into the same starting position and avoid that a child lacks behind form the very beginning.
You will then discuss the possibilities to enroll your child in pre-school. The school will present their program and school so that you have a good base for taking the decision. In some cases, the school may make a language course obligatory. If this applies, you will then need to evaluate where your child could take these lessons. The school usually provides them, but you can also check with other schools in your neighboorhood, and some kindergartens may also offer them. Normally, if you decide to keep your child in kita, you can still bring him/her to the school just for the language classes.
There is no need to prepare for the interview. It may even be contra-productive. If the outcome is that your child should visit the language training this is not in any way negative nor does it say anything about how the school judges his/her intelligence. See it as a chance. You can certainly speak more German at home, or encourage play-dates with German mates from the kindergarten or enroll your child in a German-speaking sports activity to expose him/her to more German. However, if you do that for preparation purposes for the interview only, and to avoid that pre-school becomes obligatory for your child, your actions will probably cause more disadvantages than advantages. Accepting the offer from the state means benefiting from professional education for free.
Usually, the children are very proud to be a pre-schooler as it feels a little bit as if they are already a first grader. And they all love the additional challenges they are able to master.
If you decide not to enroll in pre-school, you would need to take legal steps. If you believe your child is too young, this is likely to be seen as a week argument, because pre-school can also be attended for two years. If you decide to enroll your child in a pre-school in kindergarten or another then the interviewing school it is advisable to inform the latter in writing about your decision and where your child will go to pre-school /or take pre-school classes. The school representatives can be very persistent, especially when you are a foreigner. This is more due to the assumption that you may not know the benefits the pre-school offers to your son or daughter and that he or she will not be exposed enough to the German language for the remaining time until primary school.
Primary Schools (6-10 years old)
The primary schools listed below work by the immersive concept - one German native and one English (or another language) teacher jointly taking care of the children.
You want help with primary school?
We'll search for free spaces, explain the schools' concepts, arrange meetings with the admissions office and accompany you to help you make the decision.
Secondary Schools (11-19 years old)
While the immersive language concept is predominant with primary school, for secondary school, it is the bilingual teaching concept. Again the languages offered vary from school to school. This concept comprises the higher the grade, the more subjects are taught in the foreign language. It is, just like the immersive concept, directed to German-speaking pupils.
Starting in the 5th grade, several subjects are taught in English. The number of subjects taught in English continues to increase in the next grades.
When choosing such a school, you will have to consider your child's German skills and how old he or she is. The older the child is, the easier it will be, as more and more subjects are taught in English.
Two Gymnasiums offer the International Baccalaureate: the Helene-Lange-Gymnasium in Eimsbüttel and the Hansagymnasium in Bergedorf. Both require that the pupils do the IB as well as the Abitur, and while the subjects necessary to complete the IB are taught in English, additional subjects that might be necessary for the Abitur may be taught in German only. The admission office of the schools gives comprehensive advice as to whether enrollment is recommended or not. Your child will be interviewed and evaluated so that all of you have a good under judgment when deciding for or against a German Gymnasium.
The schools of Hamburg also offer so-called preparation or ABC classes for pupils not speaking German. They can be extremely helpful. Grade 3&4 are joint together for primary schools, but mostly the concept works for older pupils.
Some 5-10 % of the Hamburg regular schools offer such classes. Here, your child is getting German taught subjects but teachers specifically support your child with the language, e.g., speaking more slowly, explaining several times, and they can do so because of fewer pupils in one class. All classmates are in the same situation as your child and such enables your child to cope better with the difficulty of adopting a new language, culture, and neighborhood. Being part of a regular public school supports the development of German language capabilities. Your child has the right to visit such preparational class for one year (if your home script is not the latin alphabet) and 2 years in the so-called ABC classes.
Which school your child may be sent to, is decided by the Schulinformationszentrum (Schooling Information Center). It must be stated that an increasing number of pupils are not accepted in the school nearest their living area.
You want support with choosing a secondary school?
We will find free places, explain the school's concept and arrange appointments with admission offices, we also accompany and thus enable you and your child to make an informed decision.
* We try to keep this page up-to-date, however, whether a creche group is opened or not depends very much on the number of children applying for one and the availability of a teacher. For toddlers, it is therefore recommended to give all Kitas a call in case something changed.