Join now
Log in Join

Schooling without initial German or English skills (Vienna)

Starting a seperate thread for my question.
Dear all,
I have been offered a role in Vienna, and am seriously considering to accept. There are many practical aspects to be considered, but the one that honestly scares me is the transition for my son, who is currently 6 years old and starting the first year of elementary school in September. He will start and complete this year in Belgium, in the same school he was before. Then, as of next school year, he will have to start his education in Vienna (so the it will be the second year of elementary school, and he will be 7 years old).

Now on to my question(s). In most or probably all of the posts I have read so far, the kids were able to either speak some German already, or (in most cases it seems), they were already fluent in English, or English was even their mother tongue. I can see how it is supportive in those cases to opt for a bilingual school, or even a local school / German education where teachers anyway understand and speak English, so there is a safety net to support the children during the transition phase.

My son however, currently speaks (only) Dutch. And my wife and I currently speak only very little German. If we put him in an English school, and ignoring for a moment that international schools also seem to be very, very expensive (and anyway: would he even be accepted in those schools as he does not yet speak any English?), he will not understand a single word, let alone the lessons, and he cannot ask for help to clarify things as no one else will understand and speak Dutch. If he attends school in German, where teachers also understand and speak English, he still cannot ask any questions or ask for help there, and even we ourselves can only offer very limited support once he gets home with his questions (as we don't know German and it will take a long time before we get better too)...

So what is a realistic, feasible option for our son? Any advise would be greatly welcome! Does anyone have a similar experience? How did you solve it? How long did it take for the child(ren) to learn English and/or German from a situation where they spoke neither language at first? Do all stories end well here too?

I look forward to making this change and believe that if successful, it will bring a lot of added value for my son's development in an ever more competitive, international (professional) world. But I am very concerned about the chance it does not work well...

Many thanks in advance, and all the best to all of you!

Vienna Forum