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What parents in Germany need to know about Language Kindergarten (Sprach-Kitas)

What parents in Germany need to know about Sprach-Kitas

Guides to living in Germany. There are a number of specialised nursery schools in Germany that focus on helping children with their German language skills. Here’s all you need to know about Language Kindergarten (Sprach-Kitas):

What is Sprach-Kitas?

Sprach-Kitas, also known as Language Kindergarten, is a special type of nursery school in Germany that has been around since 2016. It’s aimed to assist young children to improve on their German language skills to allow their success in school.

What is the difference from normal Kita or day-care centre?

Sprach-Kitas, unlike most Kindergartens in Germany employ staff who are specifically trained in language teaching and acquisition. The staff are paid through Sprach-Kita Programme funding and shape the children’s environment, making it easier for them to develop their German skills.

These schools have access to external support and advice on handling children with setbacks, even closely working with parents to encourage further language development at home.

Since 2016 when the programme was started, about 7,000 nursery schools have received at least €25,000 funding after successfully applying for “Sprach-Kita” status. These being the Kitas that had taken a higher than average number of children from migrant areas.

In addition to teaching young kids about cultural inclusivity, Sprach-Kitas will be more diverse and focus heavily on children’s language skills.

Who is entitled to Kitas?

All young children in Germany are allowed to go to a Sprach-Kitas, but the main target for these specialised nurseries are children of migrant parents.

In households where the main language isn’t German, children may struggle to keep up at school due to their lower level of German fluency. This comes up in instances where the child has two international parents, or the child has more contact with a parent who doesn’t speak German.

According to statistics, one in five nursery-age children in Germany don’t speak German with their parents at home. This is equivalent to 675,000 children in total, with 40 percent of nursery school children coming from a migrant background.

The government through the Sprach-Kita Programme, is hoping to help the children integrate at an early age to set them up fully for life in Germany.

Do you pay for Sprach-Kita?

The fee structure is set by the local government, meaning it can vary widely across different regions of the country.

However, you won’t be expected to pay more or less for a Sprach-Kita than what you would pay for an ordinary nursery school.

Where to find Sprach-Kita

They aren’t particularly hard to locate, with around one in eight kindergartens in Germany currently a Sprach-Kita.

Kita places in Germany are highly competitive now due to staffing shortages, so securing a place may require getting in touch with a number of them at an early date.

What else you need to know

The funding for the Sprach-Kita is due to end at the end of 2022, with the fate of the existing language-focused nursery being unclear. The programme was one of the first victims of next years budget, even after the three parties of the traffic-light coalition had pledged to extend the scheme in their coalition contract.

That means the federal government are now aiming to transfer the responsibility for funding the language support over to the 16 states.  

“Responsibility in the area of daycare for children lies with the states and cannot be permanently financed by federal funding programmes,” a spokeswoman for the Family Ministry told Welt. 

The Ministry for Families has also pledged to make language acquisition a cornerstone of its forthcoming Good Childcare Act, which will see at least €2 billion in federal funding made available for nurseries in 2023 and 2024