Bilingualism and the Bilingual Program

Bilingualism and the Bilingual Program

Our families
As a bilingual school, BBS supports families who are raising their children with English and German in Berlin.  In many cases, children growing up with two or more languages cannot read and write in the non-school language, as family interaction is largely conversational.  In dual-language households, children often answer their parents in the language of the country in which they are living, rather than in the language spoken by one or both parents, with the result that even their spoken language skills are inadequate in the non-local language.   

At BBS, our objective is for children to become not just fully bilingual but bi-literate, able to read and write in a language on the level of an educated native speaker.  This is a process that begins in the primary school and continues into the secondary years. Even in monolingual children, the development of academic language takes many years, as children acquire vocabulary in every academic field and engage with language on a complex, creative level.  Ultimately, our aim is for our students to achieve local and international qualifications that will give them a wide range of options in their later lives.

Learning to write in two languages at the same time is challenging. Spelling in the early years reflects the fact that children are internalizing rules, but apply the rules from one language in the other (for example, capitalizing nouns in both German and English).  While progress in spelling may at first be slower than in monolingual children, children who attend Berlin Bilingual School become proficient readers and writers of both languages. 

Students attending Berlin Bilingual School work and play in an environment in which everyone speaks at least two languages in and out of the classroom.  Language skills are reinforced on the playground and on weekends, when students gather with their friends.  This interaction also gives our students insight into other cultures and ways of doing things.

At BBS, we assess the language skills of applicants before they are admitted to the school to ensure they have sufficient proficiency to thrive in a bilingual program on a day-to-day basis.

  • Children entering Year 1 are assessed on a Saturday in the autumn before they begin school.  Given that the children do not yet read or write, this informal assessment is oral/aural.
  • Children entering Years 2-6 are invited to the school for a trial day, during which the teachers evaluate the child’s ability to follow instruction, participate in class and interact with other students.
  • Students entering Years 7-10 are invited to the school for a trial day in order for both applicants and students to determine whether the school is a “good fit”. In some instances, students have high proficiency in one of the school languages, but not native proficiency. They are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Prior school reports are taken into consideration, as is the student’s motivation.


Subject  Language of instruction
Math and German German
Social studies/science and English English
Art English
Music English
Sport English and German

News and Events

  • October 2022

    [BBS] 1st School Conference
    Wed, 5th, 4:00pm – 5:30pm
  • October 2022

    [BBS] 6A Schnupper-tag
    Thu, 6th
  • October 2022

    [BBS] Charity Run
    Fri, 7th
  • October 2022

    [BBS] STE(A)M Week
    Mon, 10th – Fri, 14th
  • October 2022

    [BBS] 6B Schnupper-tag
    Thu, 13th
  • October 2022

    [BBS] Assessment Days Primary (1/2)
    Sat, 15th
  • October 2022

    [BBS] School closed / Hort open
    Mon Oct, 24th – Fri Nov, 4th
  • November 2022

    [BBS] Staff Development Day - School & Hort Closed
    Mon, 7th
  • November 2022

    [BBS] Assessment Days Primary (2/2)
    Sat, 12th
  • November 2022

    [BBS] 7-11th grade (par-stud.teach.conf.)
    Wed, 16th

See our school calendar for more upcoming events.