PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Speech Tests For Five-Year-Olds

05/05/2011 15:45 | Updated 22 May 2015
Achtung Baby or Speech tests for five-year-oldsPA

German children start school at the age of six. Or seven. The intricacies of the educational system here require some study (excuse the pun). It starts to get really complicated around secondary school time, so I still have some breathing space.

Finje is due to start primary school in August 2012. For some reason, the German educational system deems it necessary for pre-schoolers to take a speech test a whole year before their start date. Personally, I'm not convinced of the need for this at all and secondly, a whole year in advance? All parents experience the changes that can take place in a child's development even within the space of a few short weeks never mind twelve months.

Apparently, the crux of their justification lies in the language development of immigrant children, many of whom are unable to speak any German at all when they start school. Fair enough, they are going to need all the help they can get. I speak with ex-pat experience!

But what about the others? In typical Teutonic fashion, the whole thing is taken quite seriously. In typical Suze fashion, I took umbrage to the feedback given, having already decided on the pointlessness of the exercise.

The system didn't appear to have a box to tick when it came to my bilingual daughter, so they resorted to some backhanded criticism, only lightly dressed up as a compliment.According to the "experts", she has no problem with her confidence when speaking. She is intelligible and her vocabulary is "acceptable". But she does sometimes mix up languages, her German grammar is not perfect and she doesn't pronounce the hard "S" correctly and maybe she should see a speech therapist!

Oh really?

So she mixes up her languages? And the problem with that is precisely what? The kid is five and is learning two languages. In a few years she will have an advantage over the majority of her school mates. I can live with some mixing up.

The grammar? I fought the temptation to quote Mark Twain. Was she serious? Apparently she was.

And last but not least, the icing on the cake, when she says "super" it sounds more like "shooper". Struggling to keep calm I pointed out that she is only five, still developing and anyway it sounds quite cute.

"Ah," she said condescendingly, "but will it still sound cute when she's 16?"

"Well, it didn't do Sean Connery any harm" I retorted.

And with that we left the room.

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