How Dual-Language Education Builds Student Success at German International School Chicago

The benefits of dual-language education extend beyond bilingualism to cognitive growth, cultural understanding and so much more. Learn how.

Students at the German International School Chicago (GISC) learn much more than a second language. A dual-language education helps prepare students for their future roles as well-rounded, creative and responsible global citizens.

At its core, GISC’s mission is to provide students with a dual-language education in an individualized and supportive learning environment. As a preK-grade 8 International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, GISC is proud to provide students with a world-class education. It’s all part of what School Director Benjamin Hebebrand calls GISC’s 3+1 value proposition.

“We start with preschool, immersing our students in everyday German language, and continue all the way through eighth grade. The students receive one daily English class but everything else is in German language,” says the German-born Hebebrand. “We do this because we believe bilingualism — the first of our 3+1 core values — enhances cognitive development and gives the students a perspective of comparing and contrasting the two languages and cultures.”

The second point is educating students to become advanced global citizens, which extends beyond language, says Hebebrand, and “is most certainly about broadening cultural horizons. We believe today’s world requires students to be quite adept at understanding cultures beyond their own.”

Numerous studies show that growing up bilingual benefits students in a variety of ways, including enriching and enhancing mental development and increasing career and educational opportunities.

“This brings us to the third point of our value proposition: teaching our students to become critical and analytical thinkers,” Hebebrand says.

Recognized for quality and rigor

GISC has the double honor of being an authorized IB World School as well as being fully accredited by The Independent Schools Associations of the Central States (ISACS), a consortium of the most highly regarded private independent schools in the Midwest.

The school, which already has earned its IB affiliation for the Primary Years Program (PYP), is currently a candidate for the association’s Middle Years Program (MYP).

“The IB fosters student agency,” Hebebrand says. “From an early age, our students understand that they are the most important agent in advancing their own learning. As an example, our students often research the answers to their own questions in what IB calls a process of perpetual student inquiry.”

Photo credit: GISC

GISC is able to offer a world-class and individualized learning environment thanks to both its knowledgeable teaching staff and low student-to-teacher ratio, with only about 180 students spanning PreK through grade eight for the coming school year.

Hebebrand says GISC’s students thrive in what he refers to as a “family atmosphere” — the “+1” of GISC’s value proposition.

Danica Polanski, Director of Enrollment at GISC, says this supportive and family-like environment is essential to providing a solid foundation for student success.

“Our teachers are experts at knowing our students,” Polanski says. “They forge very meaningful relationships and our students understand that our teachers wish them success in their learning. It is very important for our students to learn that we are all working together. That is why this community is so important to us.”

The German International School Chicago is located in Ravenswood. Learn more at


  1. My two grandchildren attend this school, grandson ages 2-10 and granddaughter ages 2-6. They have such confidence, a close relationship with their teachers and classmates. The curriculum is very broad and challenging.
    There is also a very strong social connection that the students have with each other. An excellent school.


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