Austria to put non-native speakers in separate classes

Education experts are wary of the new school curriculum, which would hinder student integration, in their opinion. 

Roxane Seckauer
Roxane Seckauer Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austria to put non-native speakers in separate classes - NewsMavens
Teach and child, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

With its new curriculum, the Austrian Ministry of Education is aiming to integrate non-native speakers with teamwork, cultural training and adapted German lessons.

Educators and experts, however, criticize the approach laid out in the draft. In the suggested framework, children are separated from their 'parent class' for several semesters, and thus removed from the cultural context that they are supposed to absorb. To education expert Ferdinand Eder, this sounds like an exercise in pointlessness:

"First, the children are removed from the cultural environment, then they have to reach their learning objectives."

These special 'integration' classes would have up to 25 students per group. Overall, the outcome would be "more segregating than integrating," says linguist Hannes Schweiger.

Details from the story:

  • Austrian schools have one year to begin implementing the new curriculum for separate German classes. As of 2019 the curriculum will be binding.
  • The curriculum mentions "language-sensitive instruction in all subjects," which should be carried out in "cooperation with mother tongue teachers".
  • Numerous experts have signed an open letter criticizing the reform.
  • The new curriculum is vague on when non-native speakers should return to the parent class.
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