DaF - German as an Additional Language in Junior Secondary

In addition to being exposed to the German language and culture throughout the day and the opportunity to participate in events for the broader community such as the Christmas Market, German learning students coming to GISS experience a rich and diverse programme to learn German as an additional language.

The main entry for students joining GISS in the Secondary School is in Year 7. In Years 7 to 8, students have nine periods of German per week. Four of these nine periods are dedicated to supporting the students’ participation in the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) subjects taught in German: Art, Music and Physical Education.

In Years 9 to 10, four respectively three of these periods are replaced with Spanish as an additional language.

The other five periods are designed as a typical language course and cover topics ranging from the basics in the beginner courses, e.g. introducing oneself, hobbies and family, to more complex topics in the more advanced courses such as environmental issues or media. 

GISS has a communicative focus in teaching and learning German as an additional language, which means that grammar and accuracy in the language are means to support communication, rather than goals in themselves. Students are encouraged to use German both inside and outside of the classroom from their first day, according to their current language proficiency.

The DSD Exam

Typically in Year 10, students sit the DSD I exam, a globally recognised language exam. Students who pass the DSD I undertake the DSD II exam in Years 11 or 12. This covers the language requirements for many universities in the German-speaking world. 

In addition to being engaged with the language and diverse cultures of German-speaking countries at school, the teachers for German as an additional language arrange a variety of excursions for the students. 

In Year 9 or 10, students are given the opportunity to participate in an exchange with Germany. 

Students who choose to participate in this exchange, will host their German partners the following year, i.e. in Year 10/11. 

Other extracurricular activities in the past have been, for example, going to the cinema to watch German movies or excursions to our partner, the Goethe Institute.


DaF: Deutsch als Fremdsprache - German as an additional language

DaF Foe/ DaFö: Refers to the additional four periods of German as an additional language in Years 7 and 8 

DaM: Deutsch als Muttersprache - German as a native tongue

DSD: Das Deutsche Sprachdiplom: German Language Certificate (DSD by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad)

CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning - an approach to including language teaching and learning in other subjects


We have decided to join the school. What can my child do to get a head start in German?

There is a variety of apps and websites that may be useful for practising German. Students often use duolingo or quizlet but these are only two of many. Furthermore, the Goethe Institute offers classes for both children and adults. Other than that, any exposure to the language, such as listening to music, watching subtitled movies or series in German will help getting used to the sound of German and will help prepare the student. 
What is the percentage of students in a class who are German native speakers? My child doesn’t speak German, will they be able to make friends?

The percentage of German speaking students varies from year to year, but usually it is balanced at almost fifty-fifty. Our student (and staff) population is diverse with members from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and there will be students of various German proficiency levels in any given class. 
How quickly will my child learn German?

This question is difficult to answer as there are many factors to take into account such as motivation, exposure to and aptitude for the language. This being said, students starting in Year 7 typically reach B1 level in Year 10. 

What do the language levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 mean?

The Common European Framework for Reference of Languages is a tool that describes language proficiency on different levels. A1 and A2 describe Basic Users (A1 being absolute beginners), B1 and B2 describe Independent Users and C1 and C2 describe Proficient users with C2 being the level equivalent to that of native speakers.

How much does the exchange programme cost?

The cost of the exchange varies every time and mainly depends on the exchange rate AUD/Euro at the time. Most recently, the cost has been around AUD 5000 per child, including flights, food, accommodation and entries to museums, etc. Since the participation in the exchange is voluntary, this cost is not covered in the school fees. 
How much does the DSD exam cost?

The DSD exam is free of cost.

What kind of material or course books will my child need, and do I have to order them myself?

For German as an additional language, the school provides students with the course books. We use monolingual course books from German publishers, the current one being “Deutsch echt einfach” published by Klett. Students will also use additional material, but unless otherwise communicated, families do not have to order any material for this subject.

If you have further questions, please contact:

Jonna Vinje, Junior Secondary DaF Coordinator via jonna.vinje@giss.nsw.edu.au