Kikus Method

students with diverse needs, Assistance in learning, good practice, self-learning, Kikus Method, Breakout Edu, autism, yes i can

Country Studied: Germany

Area of Focus: Language, Assistive Technology, Multi sensory

The KIKUS approach offers an easy, practice-oriented and effective model for helping children learn a second language (e.g. German) while also supporting the home language.

It is based on three building blocks.  The child is at the centre of these areas of influence:

KIKUS Language Course for Children

The KIKUS Course is a systematic language enrichment module which is designed for use in small groups. We work with a maximum of 8 children per group. A specific room is chosen for the KIKUS Course at each facility. The Course is presented by a qualified KIKUS Course Leader, e.g. a trained teacher who has completed the KIKUS training. S/he chooses topics of daily living, e.g. family, clothing, food, etc. and uses these to teach language playfully. Vocabulary, grammar and socio-linguistic communication patterns are taught and practised in a child-friendly way. Both the children and the Course Leader feel comfortable in the small group setting and this helps them to try new linguistic structures.

Pre-school | School

The entire school is the central partner for developing a second language.  Regular discussions concerning the KIKUS Course content are very important.  In this way, the focus of each lesson can be reinforced in the school and vice versa.  We recommend that at least two professionals per school are trained to be KIKUS Course Leaders.  This training includes a Basic Seminar, an Advanced Seminar as well as hands-on practical experience.  KIKUS Certification is achieved through personal or video-supervision.  It is, however, recommended that the KIKUS Basic Seminar is attended by everyone working in the relevant facility since this will ensure that the KIKUS Method can be applied in everyday situations at the school as well.


The third building block focuses on the support of the first language at home. The parents/caregivers play a crucial role in developing their children’s language skills. KIKUS provides for targeted caregiver-child input and aims to promote the active development of the first language at home. The children discover that multilingualism is not a flaw, but a treasure. This, in turn, increases their confidence and their linguistic skills in both languages. Our experience has shown that parents/caregivers co-operate optimally once they realize that their home language is valued. Before the start of every KIKUS Course, we offer a parent/caregiver information session in which we explain the purpose of the KIKUS Worksheets.

This practice takes place in Kindergarten and primary school throughout the school year.

It is recommended that at least two professionals per school are trained to be KIKUS Course Leaders.  This training includes a Basic Seminar, an Advanced Seminar as well as hands-on practical experience.  KIKUS Certification is achieved through personal or video-supervision.

It is a teaching principle that is embedded in the programme and can be easily combined with other language enrichment strategies. It links language teaching with everyday linguistic enrichment.

Children from a migrant background. The aim of this method is promoting German in children who come from a non-German background in child care facilities and schools. 

The KIKUS method is scientifically anchored in the doctoral thesis “Bilingual First Language Acquisition” by Dr Edgardis Garlin, the founder of KIKUS.

The aims and objectives of Kikus method are:

  • Professional and Sustainable Language. Development in the Educational Language (German as a Second Language): Efficient language support can only be provided by educators and teachers who have a sound knowledge of language acquisition and the specifics of second language acquisition or acquisition of multilingualism. Likewise, knowledge and reflection on other languages and cultures are of central importance.
  • Early Support at Preschool and Primary School Age: To increase the children’s chances of a successful education, the support must begin (at the latest) at the age of 3 years. Early support leads to a reduction of public expenditure both for subsequent special support measures and for the prevention of parallel societies.
  • Inclusion of Existing Language Skills: The more children are aware that they are perceived as competent users of their home languages, the more motivated they will be to learn new things. Especially for children, the reference to the home language as a key to learning success must be self-evident.
  • Equal Recognition and Appreciation for all Languages and Dialects: The high esteem we attach to our language is also due to other languages and cultures – and their representatives.
  • Farewell to the Monolingual Society: Monolingualism is the exception worldwide and – also due to dialects – even in Germany never the reality. Therefore, society should open itself up to support multilingualism at all levels and to encourage the speaking, sharing and learning of the available language potential.

Since the beginning of KIKUS, qualitative and quantitative evaluations have been carried out. This has always been important to us to make the impact of the method visible. Here we provide you with broader surveys and studies. Thank you to everyone who helps to make KIKUS even better through their research.

The feedback from learners, educators and families has been very positive.

Since 2015, we KIKUS supported volunteers in their work with refugees and equipped them with the KIKUS methodological tools. (More about our project KIKUS for refugee children: After they had returned to the practice of language support, we interviewed them. We wanted to know how KIKUS had worked.


2015 | FoSmeK. Accompanying research on a language support concept for multilingual children

From 2013 to 2015, the TransferZentrum für Neurowissenschaften und Lernen in Ulm (ZNL) conducted the evaluation study on behalf of the Siemens Foundation, which also examined the implementation and impact of the KIKUS method in daycare centres. The results were presented at the beginning of 2016.


2012 | KIKUS as a model for cross-cutting language support | Berlin Institute | Discussion Papers

The publication “Dem Nachwuchs eine Sprache geben. Was frühkindliche Sprachförderung leisten kann“ by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development (Discussion Paper 6 by Tanja Kiziak, Vera Kreuter and Reiner Klingholz) summarises the language situation and the language support situation in Germany in a differentiated way, but also analyses concepts and also gives tips for successful language support. KIKUS is mentioned positively in the report.


2011 and 2012 | Evaluations of the KIKUS basic seminars by the Siemens Foundation

Evaluation 2012 & Evaluation 2011

Our long-standing partner, the Siemens Foundation, financed the implementation of 16 KIKUS basic seminars throughout Germany from 2008 to 2012. The foundation and we wanted to know after the project how KIKUS had worked and questionnaires were sent to the trainees. The high response rate alone was a great success. The survey is divided into the following parts: general satisfaction, comparison of other language support methods, implementation in practice, materials, effects of KIKUS language support, praise, suggestions for improvement, outlook.


2006 | Inquired from the beginning | Opinions about KIKUS

Here, pedagogical professionals and professionals with training in German as a foreign language were asked about their experience with KIKUS in the application and further training. All respondents were guided by us in practice over two years and trained to work according to the KIKUS method through seminar days.

Opinions were collected at two points in time: after six months and after two years. The questions were formulated in such a way that the participants could respond openly.

KIKUS method was developed through practical experience and has been successfully applied for more than 15 years. It has a scientific linguistic basis and follows generally accepted teaching principles.

Our work is based on a scientific foundation, more specifically on the theory of Functional Pragmatics (Handlungstheorie der Sprache; Jochen Rehbein 1977; Konrad Ehlich 1996). We see speech as one of the most important aspects of human interaction.  Language development does not proceed using the mere acquisition of terms but by the acquisition of communication patterns which serve specific purposes.

Communication patterns (e.g. requesting, question-answer patterns, narrating, etc.) vary according to different societies and languages (examples would be the different variations on greeting each other or giving gifts).  During language acquisition, these communication patterns are „filled“  by various linguistic elements and are thus developed further.  This should be taken into consideration during language teaching.

Dr Edgardis Garlin based her work on this scientific foundation when she started to develop the KIKUS Method during her practical work in 1998.  The KIKUS Method is multilingualism didactic.

Although the KIKUS method was conceived to teach German to children with a migrant background, it can also be applied to children of any nationality and to learn any language. The materials of the method are easily transferable to any other context, as they are based above all on a teaching philosophy.

“The KIKUS method. A Handbook” by Edgardis Garlin, has been translated into English. This handbook describes the teaching of German as a second language (DaZ) and foreign language (DaF) according to the KIKUS method. The guide contains:
  • a practice-oriented introduction to the KIKUS method
  • detailed instructions for working with the KIKUS teaching and learning materials
  • suggestions for planning and implementing individual support units
  • background knowledge on language support for German as a second language and German as a foreign language
  • useful copy templates in the appendix

Interactive language learning software for German, English and Spanish

The language learning software KIKUS digital is available both online and offline as a Windows application. It offers the possibility to prepare exercises on vocabulary, grammar and linguistic action patterns in a playful way. Learning a language can be fun. The use of digital picture cards allows systematic language support for each learner. Children who are less proficient in the language of instruction, or who have not yet mastered it at all, can actively participate in this way and achieve learning success. It is based on the KIKUS picture cards, which have been tried and tested in practice, and other motifs for experimentation.

The language-learning software is aimed at educational professionals in kindergartens and primary schools and is primarily suitable for initial language teaching (individual support, small groups, classrooms). Because of its creative scope, it can also be used in work with older learners, e.g. for foreign language teaching. We get the best feedback from people who use the KIKUS picture cards and KIKUS digital in language lessons with refugees.