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The German Education System

At this time of year, schools and universities in many countries around the world are in their first weeks of the school year. German schools actually started again several weeks ago, whereas the fall semester for colleges and universities doesn't begin until mid-October. There are many videos on Yabla German that reference the school system in Germany, which can seem a bit complex at first. The system may also differ slightly depending on which Bundesland you are in.

 

In Germany, der Kindergarten is attended by children generally between ages three and six, much like a pre-school in the United States. Prior to that, babies and toddlers may spend time at a nursery, which is called die Kinderkrippe. Day care centers are generally referred to as die Kita, which is short for die Kindertagesstätte.

 

Die sechsjährige Tochter ist im Kindergarten aktuell noch.

The six-year-old daughter is currently still in kindergarten.

Caption 33, Cettina erklärt: Auswirkungen des Coronavirus

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Ihre Kinder können nicht zur Schule oder in die Kita.

Your children can't go to school or to daycare.

Caption 7, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Children usually enter primary or elementary school (die Grundschule) at age 6 in Germany. 

 

Das Singen in der Grundschule ist besonders wichtig.

Singing in elementary school is particularly important.

Caption 27, Freude am Singen: mit Primacanta

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At age ten (and at age twelve in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are then three types of secondary schools students can choose from depending on aptitude and their educational goals. Students who will likely later do an apprenticeship or technical training would most likely attend die Hauptschule. Die Realschule prepares students for a variety of possible careers, whereas das Gymnasium is an academic high school that prepares them for university. The resulting degree after Gymnasium, a high school diploma called das Abitur, more or less guarantees entrance to a German university. In some cities, you may also find a comprehensive high school, more like in the United States, which is called die Gesamtschule.

 

Zum ersten Mal findet der Projekttag in einer Haupt- und Realschule statt.

For the first time, the project day is taking place at a trade-oriented high school and a career-oriented high school.

Caption 21, Gewaltprävention: Gewalt an Schulen

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Wart ihr in Deutschland auf einem Gymnasium oder einer Realschule?

In Germany, did you go to an academically-oriented high school or a career-oriented high school?

Captions 8-9, Nicos Weg: Bewerbung

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Ohne Abitur kann ich doch aber gar nicht studieren.

But without a high school diploma I can't go to university at all.

Caption 33, Die Klasse: Berlin '61

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There are different types of institutions for higher education in Germany. One can attend die Berufsschule, which is a vocational school where students may simultaneously do an apprenticeship, or die Fachhochschule, which is a university of applied sciences. Generally, die Hochschule is a university or college, though larger institutions will be called die Universität. You'll note below that both die Hochschule and die Universität are used to refer to the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

 

Die Idee dazu hatte Professor Meyer von der Evangelischen Fachhochschule Darmstadt.

Professor Meyer had the idea for it; he's from the Evangelical Technical College of Darmstadt.

Captions 10-11, Bespielbare Stadt: Griesheim

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Ich war jetzt grad zuletzt an der Hochschule in Karlsruhe.

I was just recently at the university in Karlsruhe.

Caption 39, Anja Polzer: Interview

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Was studierst du hier an der universität in Karlsruhe?

What do you study here at the university in Karlsruhe?

Caption 8, Geoökologie: Cettina interviewt Sarah

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch this video in its entirety to see if you can follow the use of these terms in the conversation. This website also provides a good overview of the education system in Germany. 

German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part I

Just as you should generally memorize the article (der, die, or das) along with each German noun that you learn, it is a good idea to pay attention to which preposition follows any given verb. This may sometimes match the English preposition — for example, Danke für das Essen and "Thank you for the food." However, there are many examples in which the preposition will not be what you would expect based on your knowledge of English. Here are some common examples:

The verb warten ("to wait") is followed by the preposition auf rather than the preposition für. The verb vorbereiten ("to prepare") may be followed by für when it refers to preparing something for a person, such as a meal. However, it is followed by auf in the context of preparing for an event.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Jetzt warte ich auf den nächsten Gang.

Now I am waiting for the next course.

Caption 28, Abendessen - mit Marko

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Ja, und bis dahin werde ich mich auf das Studium vorbereiten.

Yes, and until then I'll be preparing myself for my studies.

Caption 24, Konstantin - ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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In English, we say "I'm interested in politics." In German, the preposition für is used with the reflexive verb sich interessieren

 

Also, ich interessiere mich grade sehr für das Thema Bachelorarbeit.

Well, I'm very interested in the topic of my Bachelor's thesis at the moment.

Caption 49, Geoökologie - Cettina interviewt Sarah

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While you congratulate someone on something in English, the German verb gratulieren requires the preposition zu and the dative case. 

 

Einer der Träume ist sicher

One of the dreams is certainly

Frauen und Herren bei Weltmeisterschaften zum WM-Titel zu gratulieren.

to congratulate the women and the men at the World Championships on the World Championship title.

Captions 51-52, Frauenfußball-WM - Der Bundespräsident am Ball

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In English we have sympathy for someone, whereas in German the preposition mit is used. 

 

Der Jäger hatte Mitleid mit ihr und Schneewittchen lief in den Wald hinein.

The Hunter had sympathy for her and Snow White ran into the forest.

Caption 32, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Schneewittchen

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In another instance where the preposition is not what you would necessarily expect, the German verb for "to participate in" is an etwas teilnehmen.

 

Ab welchem Alter darf man in Deutschland an der Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag teilnehmen?

Starting at what age are you allowed to participate in parliamentary elections in Germany?

Caption 14, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
We will be back with more verb/preposition false friends from time to time and point out common examples to be aware of. In the meantime, you can look at this previous newsletter, which also mentioned this tricky topic. However, the best way to get used to these inconsistencies is by watching videos on Yabla German! As you do, you will take note of phrases that employ a given verb with its correct preposition, which you can then implement when you speak.

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