HOW TO LEARN GERMAN? – Liverpudlian students visit an international class at a Cologne grammar school

It’s even a little more international as usual in teacher Mathias Fehn’s class this morning at a Cologne grammar school. Among his students, all refugees or young people coming from foreign countries like Syria, Greece, Italy, Iraq and Spain, are five students from Liverpool University – all of the them future teachers.

They want to learn more about teaching refugees. About ways to help them learn a new language – the one of their new home country. And about ways of how to run an international class of students of various ages and origins in general.

“We don’t have as many refugees as Cologne has in Liverpool,” says student Gemma Whiting. But this could change. She wants to combine knowledge from various sources to present it at her University. One week, she and her co-students spend in Cologne. While Mathias Fehn’s school is among the best and the first who started an international class in town.

“With the class we want to enable the new students to join the regular system of classes here at school,” says Fehn. “As we were starting a few years ago, nobody knew how to run an international class. We didn’t even have proper educational material,” he remembers. “With creativity we made it a success story.”

One idea that is still in use is playing together: Parlour games are a very effective way to help learning a new language – as well as bringing people together. Combined with regular classes, in sports and music for example, such games are part of the new student’s days.

Some of his students didn’t even want to gome home after school, says Fehn. They are very eager to learn and oftentimes already speak various languages when they arrive in town. In the end the international class is a winning combination for everybody involved. And it is working. Teacher Mathias Fehn now even trains other teachers in running similar classes. And Gemma Whiting and her co-students from Liverpool, apart from having an insight in the educational work, also learn some German words during their short stay – taught by one of the former refugees. “Octopus” is “Nilpferd” in German.

(reported by Lars Göllnitz)