Moving from Austria - school for German/Spanish speaking kids?

my familiy and I will be moving to the Berkeley area for one year due to my research stay at LBNL from Feb. 2017 until Feb 2018. I have 2 kids in elemantary school age (8 and 6) and one in kindergarten age (4). Their first language is German (as we live in Austria), their second language is Spanish (as I am from there).

Since we will only be here for one year and my kids speak no English so far, we are looking for public schools which have Spanish/English bilingual programmes. We are still open on the neighboorhood or even area we will be living in (as long as it is in an commutable distance to Berkeley). I have asked already at the Berkeley Unified School District, but their Bilingual/Two-Way-Immersion classes have a waiting list.

I would appreciate any advice or recommendations on schools (and their respective neighboorhoods) that seem suitable.

Thanks in advance,


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Have you looked at the German School of Silicon Valley? They have a Berkeley campus. It's a private school but it looks like they have finical aid; not sure if that's something you could do at this late a date, but may be worth looking into.... here is their website:

Hi Gabriel,

We have a wonderful Spanish-English immersion charter school in Napa - the Napa Valley Language Academy - if you are willing to make the 45-minute commute by car from Napa to Berkeley. 

You say that you are looking for public schools, but it is worth mentioning Escuela Bilingue Internacional, which is a private school on the Berkeley/Oakland border.  They have an elementary school and a preschool.   There also is a private bilingual German English school.

I know you wrote you want to live in Berkeley, which is understandable since you will be at LBNL. However, there is an excellent public bilingual "dual immersion" Spanish-English public K-8 school in Oakland near Mills College called Melrose Leadership Academy. The commute would be long-ish, but not impossible, and the neighborhoods near Melrose are nice - you could probably afford to rent a whole house down this way (my neighborhood) for much less than in Berkeley. You could take Bus or BART to Berkeley, and there is also a shuttle between Mills College and UC Berkeley, though I don't know it's frequency or limitations. The school website is   Berkeley Parent Network discussion of MLA is at:

Oakland neighborhoods near Melrose Academy include : Laurel District, Maxwell Park, Millsmont, Steinway Terrace/Jefferson, Brookdale Park, Allendale, and Redwood Heights. This sounds like a lot, huh? the neighborhood boundaries are quite small and a neighborhood may be only 4-6 square blocks. For example, my neighborhood (Steinway/Jefferson) is only 4 x 3 city blocks. But these are names to use when looking at real estate maps when looking for a rental. This general area of Oakland is about 30 min by car from North Berkeley, depending on traffic and the route you take. The closest BART station is Fruitvale, which has dedicated bike parking and a bike service station. We have friends up the street who commuted to LBL for several years on a (electric assist) bike.  

Choose your neighborhood and schools carefully.  In general ESL program are for immigrants and are usually found in the poorer schools.  In the more affluent schools ESL programs are harder to find.  Commuting to Berkeley specifically LBNL is not easy or quick.  If you want to keep you commute to under a hour you have very few choices.  And if you are looking for the better schools your choices are really limited.

A better approach might be the German/English school In Berkeley. 
Another factor to consider is housing and housing prices.  Not sure what your price range is, but for the better schools you are probably looking at $3,500 to $5,000 per month for the better school districts.  The Berkeley rental market is crazy.  I'm hearing of studio apartments renting for over $3,000 per month.  If you can you would be smart to buy a house here.  In one year it will probably go up in value a few hundred thousand. 
Best of luck on your research at LBNL.  The views of the Bay are absolutely stunning.

I'd recommend moving to El Cerrito or the Richmond-area that is closest to El Cerrito (Richmond Annex or Richmond View). Housing is generally less expensive than Berkeley and it is still an easy commute to LBNL either by Bart or driving to the back gate. The public schools will also have other students who speak Spanish at home. The West Contra Costa school district has a comprehensive master plan for English-learner students at this link

Bienvenidos - willkommen to the Bay Area!

While this might not help a ton for your youngest child in K, my impression is that the upper classes (2nd grade & on) in the two-way immersion programs at BUSD might have some space occasionally due to attrition (people moving away), and might be amenable to having kids with appropriate language levels (yours are near-fluent in family Spanish, I would assume?) join. Although the administration might not confirm until very close to their start date, it might be worth pursuing.

Viel Glueck - buena suerte!