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Student exchange in Corona times with a happy ending

Weingarten students write exciting and funny short stories with their Spanish friends

Kriftel -Due to the pandemic, the possibilities for direct communication in various areas are severely limited. Schools are also affected, for example, many trips abroad have been canceled, at the Weingartenschule (WGS) they have not existed for two years. But here the question arose: How can WGS still stay in touch with its Spanish partner school and how can the students use their foreign language skills in real life as well?

Three English teachers found the answer together: Senior teacher Manuela Becker with her English class G9b at WGS and her Spanish colleagues Pilar Bueno and Silvia Palacios Amutio at the partner school IES La Laboral used the digital exchange to work together. The Spanish girls had the idea that the students should write a short story together. Becker was skeptical at first, she admits: "I was missing the emotional touch at first." Then she had the bright idea. It was supposed to be a Christmas story, because on 1. The project began in December. That quickly found favor. All that was left was to agree on the procedure.

By videoconference found the couples

First, the Spaniards and the Germans created a profile of themselves. "A kind of profile", Manuela Becker summarizes. After several video conferences, the right partners were found. "We knew our candidates through the lessons and were able to bring together the appropriate teams", she tells. Then the competition phase ran for a month from 1. December until 1. January 2022.

To do this, the pairs had access to a digital document that they could work on together. In addition, the young people exchanged ideas via various social media – all in English, of course. "Sometimes it was not so easy because of the pronunciation", remembers award winner Colin. But one had concentrated evenly and helped the understanding if necessary in writing, confirms also winner Senai.

Selina Schleyer from G9b was very impressed with the tandem work: "It was clear from the very first Whatsapp chat that it was a good match." The interaction went smoothly. All have cooperated. The enthusiasm was great and even lasted over Christmas. There was just something creative to develop. "It was mega fun", Marie summarizes the time. "We all had a task with each other", adds her classmate Selina. That welds together. "In some cases, the young people were still thinking about the deadline of 1 January. January out worked", Manuela Becker is pleased.

At the end of the project, the teachers were able to see in a digital document which partner was online when and who wrote how much. After the Spanish-German jury had read and judged the stories, the award ceremony on the German side took place recently. The criteria were many, from originality to language and teamwork.

Marie Schleuning and her Spanish partner Delia Natalia Ciulin come in third place with their love story that leads to everyone reconciling at and with Christmas. Runners-up were Colin Pedersen and Hector Serrat with their short story in which a girl visits her sister for Christmas and suddenly finds herself in the past with her grandparents. She realizes that Christmas is not just about presents.

Friends rescue a cat

Senai Mebratu and Ainara Diaz won with a story in which the Christmas lights go out, and with them, the Christmas atmosphere. But a group of friends show their willingness to help by rescuing a cat. This moves an old witch to light the Christmas lights and thus return the Christmas joy to everyone. The second first place went to Selina Schleyer and SofIa Rogozan, who won with "Cookies, Milk and 4 Bad Boys" convinced. they tell the story of four car thieves who are taken into custody by Santa Claus to help him with the presents on Christmas Day.

All stories have a happy ending. Head teacher Manuela Becker was very impressed by the performance of her students in her speech: "You have all done a great job. And, what is most important to me as a foreign language teacher, you used the foreign language together with a partner to talk and that’s what it’s about."

The deputy principal Sabine Trapp was also visibly proud of the G9b’s achievements: "As a Spanish teacher and former principal of a German school in a Spanish-speaking country, I am particularly happy about the successful interaction with our partner school." An action with pleasant social side effects: Some have made friends and would like to meet for real see you again.

Manuela Becker sees in the "Christmas-We hope that the young people will perhaps be able to visit each other privately, because next year another younger class will be doing the exchange." vdL

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