Diplomats visit dual-language classes

Franklin Elementary School German Immersion Program students, like Kindergartener Paul Hulme, 6 of Sylmar, center, held a Holiday Program where parents and representatives from the Austrian consulate enjoyed Christmas songs in German at the Glendale school.(
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Franklin Elementary students welcomed two foreign diplomats to visit their dual-immersion German classes over the course of two consecutive days this week.

On Friday, Deputy Consul General Stefan Biedermann of the German consulate in Los Angeles visited Franklin and said the school’s dual-language program was one of the best in Southern California — next to Goethe International Charter School and Esperanza High School in Anaheim.

It was Biedermann’s first visit to Franklin after having been stationed in Los Angeles five months ago.

“I would say it’s not only the teachers, but I understand the parents are very, very active here,” he said.

In 10 to 20 years, Biedermann says it will be increasingly important for people to speak at least two languages.

“This world is globalizing every day,” he said, but Europeans hold a more welcome view on speaking multiple languages with their proximity to so many countries and cultures. “It’s much more difficult here in the United States because I think the notion that you can do anything with English everywhere in the world is very strong.”

Frank Duscha, a language advisor from Germany accompanied both diplomats this week on behalf of the Central Agency for Schools Abroad.

“This is like having your kid at a pristine international school,” he said.

On Friday, Duscha gave the school about $6,000 for their dual-immersion program. In the spring, Duscha said he hoped he could secure another $8,000 grant.

In the future, should Glendale Unified expand its dual-language German program to middle schools and high schools, Duscha pledged to help send students to Germany, where tuition is free in 14 of 16 states to study at a preparatory college for a year.

Deputy Head of Consul Andreas Lins represented the Austrian consulate on Thursday when he visited Franklin’s German program.

About 100 students from kindergarten through fourth grade performed holiday songs in German. Before they began, Lins reminded parents of three German-speaking countries outside of Germany: Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

“That’s something we always stress that people realize that there’s more than this singular block of Germany in the German-speaking world, be it in literature, in policy, in history, in every aspect,” he said.

Lins complimented the students and their ability to memorize several songs with so many “bizarre sounding” words.

“I think they did a famous job,” he said.


Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellymcorrigan.