The Rewards of a True Bilingual Education Last a Lifetime
Students who receive a true bilingual education from an early age enter adulthood with several notable advantages beyond their obvious ability to fluidly communicate in more than one language.
The benefits of being bilingual from childhood include:
• Increased memory, attention and language ability
• Higher self esteem and flexibility and lower levels of social stress
• Greater appreciation for multiple points of view and multiculturalism
• Heightened abilities to bridge generation gaps with relatives who speak non-dominant languages
• Enhanced executive function for planning and problem solving
• Improved career prospects
• Delayed onset of Alzheimer’s and other age-related dementias
At the German International School (GIS) of New York, students don’t simply learn languages—they live them. Language immersion in the classroom, through exchange programs, and in playdates, provide an opportunity for children to learn a language like a native speaker. Bilingual students are more able to navigate among cultures and are uniquely prepared to be global citizens. They are educated in an environment that values openness, tolerance and fearlessness about approaching new people, communities and experiences.
“When you can ‘see the wheels turning’ as someone is trying to express themselves in a non-native language, it’s like they are operating from two brains: the English brain and the German brain,” says Guido Henn, Math/Physics/IT Teacher and Upper School Coordinator for GIS. “That doesn’t happen here at GIS. We’re truly bilingual. We attract families from around the world who are very mobile and want a high quality, consistent educational experience for their children. Many of the major cities in the world have a GIS school nearby. Our community of families is incredibly diverse.”
Academic Rigor in a Culturally Diverse Bilingual School
GIS was established in 1980 in White Plains, and today it’s one of only a handful of U.S. schools in a global network of 140 German international schools abroad. This coeducational private school is recognized by the Permanent Conference of the Department of Education of the Federal Republic of Germany and accredited by the NYS Association of Independent Schools and the NYS Department of Education. In 2009 and in 2014, GIS received a Certificate of Excellence from Germany’s Central Administration for Schools Abroad.
GIS enrolls more than 400 students and has a faculty of more than 50 teachers, 95% of whom hold advanced degrees. This intimate day school offers students a great deal of individualized attention, and students begin their dual immersion in German and English language studies in pre-K and Kindergarten with a team of bilingual teachers working in tandem.
Throughout their primary, middle and high school years, subjects are taught bilingually, in German or in English. Students complete a rigorous, college preparatory academic curriculum that is based on German curricula with an international orientation, especially in math, the sciences and foreign languages (German, English, French, Spanish and Latin). GIS courses approximate—and in some cases exceed—the level of American honors and advanced placement (AP). Out of a graduating class numbering eighteen students, two earned perfect AP scores in English; three received perfect AP scores in German; and one student received a Letter of Commendation for the PSAT tests.
Forty percent of GIS students have dual or triple citizenship, and interacting with such a diversity of peers offers an incredibly rich cultural experience for students. “Students graduate with two degrees—from New York State and from Germany—offering the best of both worlds,” says Henn. “GIS graduates make lifelong professional and social connections that bond them together.”
The Only Tri-State School to Confer the German International Abitur Diploma
GIS graduates earn both the NY State High School Diploma and the German International Abitur (GIA), known as the Deutsche Internationale Abitur or DIA in Germany. The GIA is an honors high school degree with a holistic emphasis on languages and sciences, and GIS is the only school in the tri-state area that grants the GIA/DIA.
The GIS commitment to excellence begins at the pre-K level. “Students speak and use both German and English on a daily basis until sixth grade when they have to take another foreign language—either French or Spanish—and may later begin studying a third language if they want,” says Henn. “They also start biology in fifth grade, physics in seventh grade and chemistry in eighth grade. The focus on science is not like in American schools where students may pick and choose their science courses. At GIS, science studies are cumulative and the holistic benefits accrue.”
German Speakers Are In Demand
Following GIS graduation, young adults are qualified to attend quality universities in Germany (which is free) and in other European countries (at little to no cost), offering parents a tuition savings of $100,000 or more.
GIS graduates possess a firm foundation for employment and advancement in careers with international companies and German technology firms. In the U.S., German companies employ more than 800,000 people, and nine of the world’s largest German companies—including Adidas, Bayer, BMW, Lufthansa, Siemens, Volkswagen and others—need bilingual employees to work in locations worldwide.
“But, even before graduation, our students study all over the world,” Henn says. “Students who learn to speak other languages from a very young age are confident in their ability to learn more languages as they go through life.”
Register Now to Attend a GIS Open House
Pre-K and Kindergarten classes fill up quickly, and there is a rolling admissions process for students at all levels. To learn more about the GIS, parents, parents-to-be and grandparents of children may register now to attend a Campus Open House or off-campus events beginning in October 2017. Private tours may also be scheduled by appointment.