What is «Translanguaging»? Put simply, it is a methodology; a way of teaching language. It gives our students the opportunity to actively reflect on their use of language and share their thoughts and considerations with others.
Translanguaging is a completely natural and valuable linguistic process that can be used for language acquisition. It builds upon the various stages that a child naturally goes through in language acquisition and, in particular, acknowledges the complexity of this process for each individual. Translanguaging allows children to reference language patterns they already master and use them to enhance their proficiency in other languages.
Teachers at Tandem IMS deliberately employ translanguaging as a strategic teaching method, recognising that language and identity are inseparably linked. By encouraging children to speak and interact with each other in various classroom situations, teachers stimulate an engagement with the creation and restructuring of languages. Children learn to differentiate between languages when necessary but naturally combine them into a larger unified language system. Within this language system, a broad linguistic repertoire emerges, along with a significantly enhanced ability for conceptualisation.
Translanguaging is a responsive, empowering pedagogy for children from diverse cultural backgrounds, helping them develop excellent intercultural communication strategies.
With translanguaging, the reflection process in the realm of language is improved, and overall metalinguistic awareness is promoted. This facilitates children's transition into the more complex secondary school system and potentially opens up a much broader range of academic opportunities, as they already possess a greater number of skills.
So, what does the Tandem IMS curriculum based on Translanguaging look like, and how has it been designed and strategically embedded at all levels?
Several times a week, English and German teachers jointly instruct the same class at the same time, or the teacher is supported by teaching assistants (English, German, or French). In the Nursery, Pre-School, and Kindergarten, languages overlap by 50-100%, and in Primary School, it is around 10-50%.
Teachers of both languages collaboratively plan the weekly curriculum, including the simultaneous presence of various language teachers in the same class and the specific activities taught through translanguaging. For example, this could involve a word exchange or a classroom discussion in both languages. Other activities for older children might include preparing a presentation in one language, delivering the presentation in another language, and writing notes about it in the first or a third language.
Cen Williams first spoke of «Translanguaging» (in Welsh trawsieithu) in the early 90s. He was seeking to develop a different approach to bilingualism within education (Garcia & Kleyn 2016). Contrary to having the languages taught separately at different times of the week, he considered a multilingual situation which emphasized communication strategies, with immediate linguistic interaction, using different languages, therefore creating and renewing new concepts. Baker and Garcia called translanguaging the «meaning-making» (2011). Garcia (2009) described it as a focus on the actual practice of a bilingual person and not on the language used.
Our daughter Milla started in Kindergarten 1 and finished in grade 6. We are so thankful to all the teachers, management and administration for the great work they do with the children. Tandem IMS offers a friendly environment and the warmth of a family. Milla had a lot of fun but she also learned a lot. She is not only academically strong in English and German and advanced in French but she developed as an individual who loves and respects people, who is independent and confident, who is free to express her opinion, who knows how to organize her daily life and work under pressure. As she said in her graduation speech: «Here in Tandem I had the best time of my life! I am looking forward to the future because I know I am well prepared for the next step of my life.»
Tandem IMS's sense of community and the depth of care and dedication teachers and staff bring to the school, is what makes it so special. At Tandem IMS, teachers get to know each child individually and take time to understand the best ways to help them learn and grow. Children learn to treat each other with respect, work together, and to appreciate differences of background, identity, and perspective. Both socially and academically, our son greatly benefitted from Tandem IMS's nurturing learning environment.
Our experience at Tandem Erlenbach has been wonderful and totally recommendable. Sara has been happy at Tandem IMS Erlenbach each and every day of the almost three years she has spent there. Tandem's educational method allows each child to progress in an individual and personalised way, but at the same time creates strong bonds with the rest of the children in each group. The diverse atmosphere and the values of Tandem IMS (tolerance, team spirit, kindness, respect…) are something that all schools should promote and that we truly appreciated.
Neven started in Kiga 1 and stayed until the end of Primary 6, a total of 8 years. He is a very active and lively boy. All the different teachers he had at Tandem IMS were able to motivate and interest him through all these years. They recognised his strengths and supported him when needed. Neven successfully passed the Gymiprüfung and also in Gymnasium it shows how well he is prepared for learning in a demanding environment. As we’re both working parents we always felt understood and supported by Tandem IMS. If we would start again with a younger child we would choose Tandem IMS again.
We are incredibly grateful for the time our daughter Alisa spent at Tandem IMS. The teachers and administrators were exceptional—always attentive, nurturing, and genuinely invested in Alisa's well-being and development. Their warmth and professionalism made all the difference, giving us peace of mind every day. In the two years she was there, we saw remarkable growth in Alisa’s social skills, confidence, and love for learning. She also made remarkable progress towards her language skills in English and German. It was such a joy to see her excited to go to Tandem each morning and come home with new knowledge and stories to share. We couldn't have asked for a better foundation for her, and for that, we are eternally thankful to the amazing team at Tandem IMS.
We experienced Tandem IMS as a happy place to learn and to prepare students in many fields of life, not just school subjects but also social skills and community spirit. The teaching style and the multicultural environment is nurturing a growth mindset and lifelong learning which are so important in these times of constant changes. Our son Francesco has spent his whole primary school time at Tandem IMS and graduated after 6th Grade well prepared for the next step (Sek A, Küsnacht). He had a fantastic start there with many advantages already in French, English and an independent and self-organized homework attitude. His brother Lorenzo is still enjoying Tandem Primary school and will graduate in a couple of years.
It was an incredible journey for the last 6 years and we will be missing every single day of this experience. Dedicated teachers truly loving the kids and the daily job they do, dedicated educational team, and outstanding curriculum to make sure kids are not only prepared for day-to-day life, but also for the school after. But more importantly, are the social skills which Arthur and Andrew watched and learned every day. Something, one can’t buy for money but have it in your heart.
Seeing our children becoming less and less happy attending public school, we felt compelled to look for a better alternative that could meet their needs. What we found turned out to be so much more than expected: an inspiring culture, motivating teachers, and an exciting multilingual spirit. While learning is never easy and often demanding, for our children, it suddenly became a fun and productive experience. The depth and breadth of the learning opportunity offered by this school is nothing short of great!
At Tandem IMS, I really felt that the children were growing their knowledge and improving their language skills in both, English and German. Caspar entered at the age of 4 into kindergarten 1 and stayed for 2 years. He could not speak one word of English and German when he joined, since we speak Italian and Russian at home. When he finished kindergarten 2 at the age of 6, he could communicate very well in both English and German and we were very proud of him.
Tandem IMS was the best choice and the best investment for our child. Tandem IMS makes parents confident that their child is in the best hands. The experience, the education and the engagement level of the teachers is set at the highest standards. And as a bonus, our little son was taught in 2 languages, so that for the Kindergarten he is well prepared and speaks, without any difficulties, German and English on top of Russian. Without any hesitations, our younger little baby was also enrolled at Tandem IMS.
We were impressed how quickly Cédric settled in which was also due to the warm and caring atmosphere that welcomed him. Cédric loved to go to Tandem IMS as he found an environment that adapted to his needs and gave him brain food (he is a very curious boy). We felt that the excellent teachers recognize the strengths of each child individually and support children to develop further. During his time at Tandem IMS, Cédric progressed impressively and he always felt very safe and was very eager to go to Tandem IMS.
Valentina and Mateo both started attending the nursery at 6 months old, followed by preschool. It was amazing to witness how quickly they picked up English and how effortlessly they can now switch between German, English, and Spanish. Valentina and Mateo always felt comfortable, and as parents, the open communication with the team consistently reassured us that our children were in the best hands. We are very grateful to Tandem IMS for the valuable chapter in our children's lives.
Emma enjoyed the inspiring environment, the caring teachers and the super interesting curriculum. Each day was different and the children learned a lot by going through the various subjects that were spread throughout the year. A lot of effort also goes into organising special events through which the children can discover the entire world. Emma benefited a lot from Tandem and was now ready to go to kindergarten. We are very grateful for the great time Emma spent at Tandem IMS and are missing the team a lot!
Massi grew up in the translanguaging environment of Tandem IMS, becoming fluent in both English and German from an early age. The enquiry-based learning allowed him to be himself, learning easily by asking questions constantly. We are grateful to all the teachers that accompanied him since he was two years old. Thank you for your patience, professionalism, creativity, and engagement. Tandem IMS and its teachers are putting a lot of effort in recognising each child's needs, adapting to their rhythm, their curiosity, making everyone feel unique.
Mariana thrived in the familiar atmosphere of Tandem IMS. The bilingual education prepared her well for further language study, and the teachers were very professional, committed and caring of my child’s needs. After leaving Tandem IMS, Mariana settled exceptionally well in her new school and was academically well prepared for the new demands. Thank you, Tandem IMS!