Supporting language development
Language skills are crucial for successful learning processes and educational pathways, and facilitate social participation. In this regard, supporting language development is an integral part of the responsibilities of early childhood education institutions, with language development taking place throughout the day across all activities and educational programmes. Enabling children to develop their language skills is intended to help them fulfil their potential and build a strong foundation for starting school.
The focus is on promoting German as the language of education. Children with a lack of knowledge of German as an academic language should be supported in a focused and personalised way as soon as they start attending an early childhood education institution, but in particular in the final two years before compulsory schooling begins, so that their language skills are as proficient as possible when they start school.
Language proficiency assessment tools: BESK KOMPAKT and BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT
As of the 2019/20 kindergarten year, the use of a nationally standardised tool for recording children’s language skills in academic German is compulsory in suitable early childhood education institutions throughout Austria in order to assess their academic German proficiency. There are two versions of the tool, BESK KOMPAKT and BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT, which was developed by the Federal Institute of Educational Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School Sector (BIFIE) in collaboration with an expert in the field. Language proficiency will be assessed by experts using this national observation tool, which will be used to assess both the German language skills of children with German as a first language (BESK KOMPAKT) and the German language skills of children with German as a second language (BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT).
This compact and streamlined tool is designed as an improvement for kindergarten teachers, focusing as it does on significant language proficiency indicators. Not only does this save resources; it also provides more accurate information about a child’s specific language support needs. To ensure a standardised approach nationwide, standardised observation periods and thresholds have been specified and are used to identify any need for language support.
At the same time, a mandatory handover sheet (Übergabeblatt) is used to aid the transition from early childhood education institution to primary school. This sheet provides information on a child’s language strengths and the areas where they need support, based on the results of the BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT language proficiency assessment tool, and defines a clear starting point for further planning in order to support his or her language development. This sheet must be sent to primary schools at the latest by early September after the school holidays in the relevant federal state have ended. It shows the child’s level of development in the last kindergarten year during the observation period, including May/June.
Since language proficiency must be assessed at least once in all children over the age of three, a handover sheet containing information about the language proficiency assessment carried out and based on continuous observation by kindergarten teachers is prepared for each child, even if there is no specific need for support with academic German.
Documents on the two versions – BESK KOMPAKT and BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT – are available for you to download below. These documents include the instructions for the two versions, which contain all the information needed on how to carry out the assessments, the two observation sheets, and forms in the format of an observation sheet to be filled in online. In addition, you can download the two versions of the handover sheet – for children with German as a first language (Übergabeblatt_DaE) and for children with German as a second language (Übergabeblatt_DaZ) – along with more information about these sheets in the documents on the Handover Sheets Decree [Erlass Übergabeblatt] and on interpreting the handover sheet (all documents in German only).
- Observation sheet for assessing the language proficiency of children with German as a first language (PDF) (BESK KOMPAKT) (in German only)
- BESK KOMPAKT (form) (in German only)
- Instructions for BESK KOMPAKT (PDF) (in German only)
- Observation sheet for recording language skills – German as a second language (PDF) (in German only)
- BESK DaZ KOMPAKT (form) (in German only)
- Instructions for BESK-DaZ KOMPAKT (PDF) (in German only)
- Handover sheet for children with German as a first language (PDF) (in German only)
- Handover sheet for children with German as a second language (PDF) (in German only)
- Handover Sheets Decree (PDF) (in German only)
- Interpreting the handover sheet (PDF) (in German only)