Here at Honywood School, we have been a strong supporter of youngsters learning a language and have included a compulsory language in our GCSE options for the past 12 years. Learners at Honywood are able to opt for French, German and Spanish as a GCSE.
We are passionate about giving them a real experience within languages and from Year 7 they attend a day trip to France, in Year 9 the option to take part in the German or French exchange and in Year 10 they are able to take part in a History, Geography, Philosophy and Ethics trip to Berlin.
Our commitment to languages has extended to work with Erasmus – a European initiative to drive learning forward by learners collaborating across countries.
This year, we are looking to run the German Exchange for its 10th year, however, this is in danger of being cancelled due to funding. In the past, Honywood School has been able to financially support any learners whose family finds themselves in financial difficulty by subsidising their youngsters place on the German Exchange. Unfortunately, this year, budget cuts to schools has seen many trips be cancelled and we are currently unable to fund four learners to take part in the trip. If we are unable to fund these children, we will have to cancel the trip as we could not discriminate against youngsters due to their financial situation.
The trip to Germany gives learners an authentic experience of Germany, its culture and its language. Learners are put into a situation whereby they are surrounded by the German language and have to practise their spoken German in order to communicate successfully with the people around them. By matching learners to an exchange partner, and therefore to a German family, learners are able to experience day-to-day life in Germany, as well as having a genuine reason to speak the language and understand cultural differences and traditions. The trip also aims to help build learners' confidence and to open their eyes to a country and a culture that they may not have experienced previously especially as our youngsters live in a rural community and many have little experience of the wider world.
Many of our youngsters who have taken part in the exchange programme in the past also stated that they are now much more confident with listening to and speaking the German language. Learners were able to spend time with their partner, a native German speaker, asking and answering questions and this has undoubtedly supported their learning for the speaking and listening aspects of the GCSE curriculum.
The personal development for each youngster is harder to quantify, but many of those who have taken part in previous years have gone on to follow a language at A level and kept in touch with their partner family, many returning to Germany to visit again.
Help us continue this work and enable our young people to take part in this enriching, rewarding experience and help them develop skills and relationships for the future.