Founded in 1978, the German Language School Conference (GLSC) is the only national organization dedicated to the needs of community-based German language schools in the United States.
Our mission is to link member schools with a central organization for information and support. We assist in the establishment of new language schools and provide a forum for sharing experiences and advice.
Our member schools typically hold classes on Saturdays and are, therefore, often referred to as “Saturday Schools” (German: Samstagsschulen). They serve children from preschool through high school as well as adults.
The GLSC was founded by representatives of German language schools in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with the support and encouragement of the German Consulate General New York. The goal was to provide an organization for the sharing of experiences and best practices geared to the unique needs of language schools. Since then the GLSC has grown to include the majority of German language schools across the US.
An example of the GLSC’s role in fostering German language education in the US can be seen in its introduction of the German Language Diploma (Deutsches Sprachdiplom or DSD), at its member schools.
The DSD is an official German language exam
conducted and evaluated by the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen in Bonn/Germany (ZfA). It is offered on two levels. The DSD I was introduced at the German School of Connecticut in 1982 and subsequently to additional GLSC member schools; the DSD II in 1983.
The schools of early German-speaking immigrants to the US were private, community based, and taught the language of the homeland. They predated public schooling that introduced English. With the ensuing decline of German language instruction, members of the German-American community created private language schools to teach the heritage language.
The oldest almost continuously operating language schools were founded in Boston in 1874 and in New York in 1892. The majority of German language schools however, were established after 1945. As in the past, the scarcity of German language and culture programs in many parts of the country inspired the German-American community to establish German language schools to meet the needs of their children.
Today, German language schools cater to a broad range of students from native speakers to heritage language learners to those learning German as a foreign language. The schools strive to convey a modern image of Germany and the cultures of other German-speaking countries. Even though they operate outside the national and state education systems, they constitute a valuable enhancement to the educational landscape of the US, where German is increasingly not an option among the foreign languages offered in public and private schools.
Most schools teach the German language on all proficiency levels - A1 to C1 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) or Novice to Advanced of the Proficiency Guidelines by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and prepare their students to take the National German Exam of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), the Advanced Placement German Language and Culture Exam (AP), and the German Language Diploma (Deutsches Sprachdiplom or DSD Level 1 and Level 2).
Currently, there are more than 50 German language schools all across the US. While the enrollment figures fluctuate, the present number of students in these schools is estimated at about 7,000. Many of the schools are members of the PASCH Initiative, a global network of over 2000 schools with links to Germany. PASCH, which stands for “Schools: Partners for the Future,” was launched in 2008 by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany in cooperation with several other German stakeholders. Most of the schools are also members of the GLSC.
The GLSC is a sustaining member of the Weltverband Deutscher Auslandsschulen (WDA). We enjoy the support of the German Embassy in Washington, the German Consulate General New York, the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen in Bonn/Germany (ZfA), the Goethe Institute and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Additionally, we work with professional organizations such as the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), the Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools, and universities with German language programs.
TO ASSIST MEMBER SCHOOLS
To assist our member schools in teaching the language and culture of German-speaking countries on all proficiency levels
TO REPRESENT INTERESTS OF MEMBER SCHOOLS
To represent the interests of our member schools to German and US government agencies, professional organizations and other stakeholders
TO ENHANCE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
To enhance the professional development of German language school educators and administrators by organizing a yearly conference
TO ASSIST WITH THE FOUNDING OF NEW SCHOOLS
TO PROMOTE THE EXCHANGE OF BEST PRACTICES
To offer a forum for sharing best practices concerning the teaching of the language and culture of German-speaking countries at our conference and beyond
To assist educators and administrators in establishing new German language schools in the US