The first five years of life are crucial for language development. On the basis of this knowledge, Dr. Edgardis Garlin, a board member of the nonprofit Center for Multilingualism in Early Childhood (zkm), developed the language learning program KIKUS (Children in Cultures and Languages). Children between the ages 3 and 10 play and sing in their group and at the same time learn a second language while having a lot of fun. Since 2008 Siemens Stiftung has supported the further development and widespread use of the program, and promoted research on language acquisition, including an evaluation study on KIKUS.

The program focuses on children’s experiences: With KIKUS, children deal with subjects such as family, clothes, and food in a playful way. Vocabulary, grammar, and patterns of speech and social behavior are conveyed and practiced systematically, yet in a manner appropriate for children. Parent-and-child cooperation under guidance encourages the family to devote time to the child’s first language whose acceptance strengthens confidence and supports multilingualism.

The KIKUS method not only works for learning German as a second language, but can also be applied to other languages and used internationally.