English Explorers, originally known as Tiny Tots, was formed in 2004 by a group of parents in Gonsenheim, a suburb to Mainz in Germany.
It is a place where English-speaking families can congregate, support each other and share the experiences of bringing up their bilingual children in Germany. Singing, structured activities, stories, crafts and a range of other activities are offered by native speakers in the English language.
It is normally stipulated that at least one of the parents is a native English speaker. However, families returning to Germany after having lived in an English speaking country, and whose children already have a good knowledge of English, or parents committed to bringing up their children bilingually, where English is one of the chosen languages, can participate as well.
It is not however, an English teaching school for anyone who wants their children to learn English from scratch.
The set-up is as follows:
At the beginning of every session all children sing the "Welcome song" together, followed by a selection of new and old favourite songs.
Afterwards, the large group is divided into three smaller groups: the baby and toddler group, the kindergarten group and the school children, each heading off into different rooms to do age appropriate activities.
Baby and toddler group
The focus of this group is to have fun whilst improving language skills, hand-eye coordination and motor skills. After reading a book together and some short activity - for example involving shape or colour recognition - the children can play in a special baby area, with various toys, such as a small kitchen, a rocking horse, building blocks, cars and more.
This group is intended for children who already have a good understanding of the English language. We normally start with a story followed by an activity in relation to the same topic.
For example, we might read a book about a chameleon followed by a discussion of different animals and what makes them special, finishing up with a painting activity, which encourages the children to create their own chameleon picture.
Different themes, arts and crafts, often influenced by the season, work to make every session as interesting and engaging for the children as possible.
The emphasis for that group is on oral language development by giving children the opportunity to talk, respond and expand their English through different speaking and listening activities. In addition, the use of storytelling enables them to discuss and reason. Interaction with other English language speakers plus exercises using vocabulary connections enables children to ask questions and further develop their language skills.
At the end, all children meet again to form a large group for a few activity songs like "Hokey-Pokey" or "Sally the camel" before finishing with the "Goodbye song".
We celebrate each child's birthday and national holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. We also organize regular theme parties e.g. on Carnival and Halloween.
In good weather, we finish on the attached playground where the children can have more fun playing outside and the parents have a good chat.
Some further information:
The group meets every Wednesday afternoon, apart from school and public holidays.
We need our members to commit to coming regularly so that the children feel comfortable in the group, hence will feel more confident to participate and consequently, gain more from the experience. Please be aware that the parents do stay for the duration of each session, it is not possible just to drop the children off!
The group is run on a voluntary basis which means that everyone needs to contribute to its smooth running, which includes that everyone takes turns in leading activities. Responsibilities also exist in areas such as membership, administration, financial, website design and more.
The quarterly membership fee of 30 € goes towards the hire of the rooms, materials and refreshments. This also covers additional costs such as Santa at Christmas or birthday presents for the children.
In addition to the regular group meetings, parents' evenings are held every second month which gives us the opportunity to talk and socialize outside the group as well as to plan and discuss various things concerning the smooth running of the group.
We are happy to welcome new members so please feel free to get in touch and try it out yourself!
For more information, and to arrange a time to visit, please contact our Membership Secretary, Cathrin Nourse.
English Explorers meets:
When: Wednesdays 4:15 to 5:45 pm