schools in Hamburg for English-speaking expat child

Hello. My husband and I are university professors and will be doing our sabbatical in Hamburg in 2020-21. My daughter will be in 6th grade. She does not yet speak German (but we are hoping to get her a tutor & have her do Rosetta Stone, etc. between now and then).

We are looking into school options. It looks like the international school will be too far of a commute (I will hopefully be located at UNESCO) and very $$$. I have sent inquiries to the Phorms School and the Helene Lange Gymnasium. Are there other schools we should look into, particularly those that offer bilingual instruction?

We are going to be visiting in early March over spring break and would like to set up informational meetings at various schools.

I would appreciate any advice!

I don't know the school scene in Hamburg, thus can only offer general advice:
- Private schools, and especially international ones, are pricey. €1000/month is more the norm than the exception, but costs do vary from school to school.
- The German authorities don't see it as their responsibility to provide publicly subsidized schooling in their home language to foreign kids.
- So-called "bilingual" public schools (like the Helene-Lange-Gymnasium you mentioned) are geared towards German kids who want to learn more English. They have more intensive English language lessons and at most half the subjects are taught in English (at higher ages, much less in 6th grade), with all others taught in German. This might not be an option for your daughter.
- But many public schools have special preparatory classes ("Förderklasse") to bring foreign kids up to German standards in language and other subjects and enable them (after a year or two) to enter normal public schools here. These classes are free of charge and fulfill the compulsory schooling requirement (up to grade 9), but quality varies (due to the attending kids, not the teachers!).

Kids do tend to learn languages a lot faster than us Adults.

Like you have discovered, International schools which have English language instruction are expensive. And like Beppi mentioned, although some public schools have a kind of dual English/German curriculum, it is usually more to see that kids are proficient in both languages. I doubt if they are appropriate for kids who don’t speak hardly any German.

As far as location, it might mean that you choose a place to live that is more convenient for your child to get to school than for you to get to work. But as incredible as it might sound to Americans, many kids even at that age or younger use public transportation to get to school. My tip is that it what makes a commute of any kind difficult is not the distance but how often one might have to change from one bus or train line to another and the walk involved on either end. It can be less complicated to go clear across town on a given U-Bahn or S-Bahn line than to go just a couple of kilometers where one needs to walk 5 blocks, take a bus, change to another bus or U-Bahn and then walk some more.

What I suggest to people coming with kids is to take every effort to get their German as good as possible before coming. German schools have to deal with a lot of people coming that don’t speak much German but I think they end up doing remedial things just to learn the language and basically lose a year academically. Despite the cost, it is often recommendable that they spend the first year at an International school and usually by the second year of a longer stay they should be able to switch to a public one. But if you are just staying a year as your post suggests then this doesn’t apply.  Some big companies or academic jobs will include paying for the cost of an International school. But this is something one needs to negotiate before taking a position and unfortunately some parents don’t think of this at the appropriate time.  This factor alone can mean some people with multiple school age kids delay such a move to give the kids more time to get basic German down.

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