With the initiative "MITsprache" the Schoewel Foundation Fairchance seek to promote equal opportunity for children from socially disadvantaged groups – especially those with immigrant backgrounds – by facilitating German language capabilities.
The "MITsprache" initiative is characterized by the following:
- language-promotion efforts and encouragement beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout primary school, thereby enabling continual, interruption-free support over several years;
- cooperation with experienced educators and social workers to assure the teaching staff’s collaboration and motivation, as well as to gain acceptance and active support by the parents;
- participating educational facilities are obligated to closely integrate the program into their daily teaching routine. Moreover, they must provide time-off for the teaching staff to acquire necessary qualifications;
The basis for this language promotion model is the teaching program "Deutsch für den Schulstart", which was developed at the Institute of "German as Foreign Language Philology", University of Heidelberg. It has been successfully tested in several cities. Close cooperation with the Sprachförderzentrum Berlin-Mitte, an interdepartmental language promotion institution, together with the govermental Senate Department for Education, Science and Research assures the unobstructed course of the project.
Of fundamental importance for the successful implementation and performance of the program is involvement by the family and school environment. A specialized social education worker and foundation staff member is responsible for the implementation of this task.
The project was scientifically guided and evaluated by Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, while the results of this testing process were used to continually optimize the project. This process of optimizing provided the foundation for transferring the support program to other institutions – both within and outside of Berlin. Since 2016 MItsprache is part of other educational institutions all over in Germany.
The need for an effective language promotion program for children from socially disadvantaged families and children with immigration backgrounds is backed by numerous studies. Language is the medium of day-to-day communication and a key resource for educational success. Children who have a hard time in class because of an inadequate command of the German language, which is not uncommon in several of Berlin’s boroughs, are adversely impacted in their school performance and thus limited in their career prospects. The host country language proficiency is of paramount importance for social integration.
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