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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in general upper secondary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.5Teaching and learning in general upper secondary education

Last update: 9 June 2022

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

The range of subjects offered in the gymnasiale Oberstufe (upper level of the Gymnasium) is described in the section on the organisation of general upper secondary education, as are the requirements for certain subjects and subject groups and the opportunities for individual specialisation. As a rule, classes take up at least 30 periods a week. Whilst the compulsory courses are designed to ensure that all the pupils receive a common general education, electives, in conjunction with the compulsory curriculum, are intended to enable pupils to develop an area of specialisation. In the gymnasiale Oberstufe of the eight-year Gymnasium, the number of weekly periods is generally increased by two to four.

Foreign language lessons in the upper secondary level build on the competences acquired in lower secondary level. The focuses of teaching and learning are in-depth intercultural understanding, written language in terms of competences involving different text types, corresponding oral discourse abilities and language awareness. These competences are based on the educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife or the Uniform Examination Standards in the Abitur Examination (Einheitliche Prüfungsanforderungen in der Abiturprüfung – EPA) and aim to achieve at least reference level B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for languages that have been studied since lower secondary level, and reference level B1, in parts also B2, for new foreign languages started at the end of the upper level of the Gymnasium. Languages lessons attended throughout the upper secondary level may be replaced by bilingual teaching and learning in other subjects. More information can be found in the resolution “Recommendations of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany on strengthening foreign language competence” ('Empfehlungen der Kultusministerkonferenz zur Stärkung der Fremdsprachenkompetenz') of December 2011 as well as the report "Concepts for bilingual teaching ('Konzepte für den bilingualen Unterricht') of October 2013.

The comments in the section on teaching and learning at lower secondary level apply to cross-curricular topics addressed in upper secondary education.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Based on the curricula, which also contain some guidance on teaching methods, the teachers take responsibility for teaching in their classes, taking the background and aptitude of each pupil into consideration. Use is made of digital media (multimedia, electronic dictionaries, graphing calculators) and telecommunications (Internet etc.) in the classroom both as teaching aids and as the subject of teaching and learning. By utilising new resources and methods and by strengthening the individualist character of teaching, the aim is to promote creativity and independent learning skills.