Sparking enthusiasm for German
Following the German Scholarships Programme, all participants take on the role of ambassadors, visiting their local primary schools in the UK to share their experiences. The aim is to widen younger pupils' cultural understanding and inspire them to learn the language and visit Germany. Read on to find out how our 2016 participants captured the imaginations of the primary pupils.
Early birds and silent nights - school systems and other traditions
The pupils particularly enjoyed learning about the school system in Germany (...). For example, German schools begin much earlier than British schools and it was hard for them to imagine to be at school for 7:20, when schools in the UK don't start until 8:30/8:45.
Another topic area I focused on was Germany at Christmas time (...). I spoke to the pupils about how 'der Weihnachtsbaum' originally came from Germany, the German origin of the song Silent night which was written in German with the title of Stille Nacht. We spoke about Christmas markets in Germany and how we can find similar snacks and beverages at Christmas markets in the UK that are inspired by Germany. Then I moved onto talking (...) about Heiligabend where children and families open their presents a day earlier than us in the UK.
At the beginning I had a short quiz on basic knowledge of Germany, then a presentation about schools followed by a (...) short quiz and to finish off I spoke about my whole trip through Germany. I also included an activity where they had to express their opinions on topics such as school uniform and the school timetable (...) and they really enjoyed learning about these differences. (...)
I think that I really inspired many of the students that were there. For the vast majority of them it was their first exposure to (...) the German culture (...). The focus on schools was probably a good choice since it was quite relatable and allowed them to form opinions as well as compare the two systems. After the sessions I definitely noticed a huge interest in finding out more about Germany, which was reflected in the number of various questions that I was bombarded with.
Looking towards the future - recycling in Germany
The main topic of my presentation was 'Germany and the environment', so I gave the children some 'Pfandflaschen' and let them pass them around the classroom and comment on them. They remarked how 'hard' the 'Mehrwegflaschen' felt and I explained about how those kinds of bottles can be recycled in Germany. I also showed them my video of a 'Pfandautomat', which I took while staying in Konstanz with one of my host families. Some of the children talked about how they separate their recycling at home and we compared this to the system in Germany.
Before the talk, I was so nervous; much more nervous than before the trip itself, because I don't like speaking in front of people (...). However, it went better than I thought it would. [The children] seemed quite excited and eager to volunteer their own contributions about what they do for the environment and asked some questions at the end (...). They also liked looking for the recycling symbols on the 'Pfandflaschen' labels and finding out what they meant.
Overall I think the session did succeed in getting the children to think about German culture, which they probably hadn't considered before. They also learned something new about how another country tries to minimise its impact on the environment.
Passing on the passion
I also visited the school to teach some (...) German. This honestly was a wonderful experience. These 8 year olds were keen (...) and asked so many questions (...) and it was great to see them so enthusiastic. We learnt the numbers from 1 to 10, 12 colours and 7 useful expressions. I also got some questions at the end and it seemed that I got the children interested. From next week on, I will also be running a German club for beginners with the hopes of being able to teach them many parts of the German languages and facts about Germany itself (...). I think that I have increased the pupils' passion for both the German culture and language, as I feel that I was able to add to their already existing interests about Germany. The linguistical aspects of German were also something they have found interesting. Some of them have said that they would like to take German up as one of their languages in the future!
I myself was very thankful at the end of the presentation to have been given the opportunity to share my experience with the pupils. They claimed to have enjoyed it and one pupil mentioned being "even more interested in German" as a result of my presentation. They especially enjoyed the bingo and I was very impressed at how quickly they took in the information I had taught them. (...) Upon asking how many of them would be interested in studying German in future, many claimed they would, especially as a result of my suggestion that learning German will lead to many opportunities other subjects simply couldn't provide them with. I would deem the whole afternoon to have been a complete success and feel that the students are now more aware of German culture and the very basics of the language.