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Language students July 6

Language students win 'amazing' scholarships to visit Germany

The decision to study German at York College & University Centre has translated into an “amazing and special” trip for Ruby Drury and Mollie Fury.

First-year A Level language students Ruby and Mollie have won two of just 22 places available to UK pupils on the German Scholarship Programme that is run by Pädagogischer Austauschdienst (PAD).

The initiative, which is administered in this country by UK-German Connection and is fully funded by the German Foreign Office, will see Ruby and Mollie spend four and two weeks respectively in Germany this month.

Ruby, who has never travelled abroad, is spending the first week of her visit in Bonn – the former capital city of West Germany – where she will meet international students from across the world.

She will then stay for a fortnight with a host family in Baden-Wurttemberg, where she will visit the local school and undertake project work.

Finally, her itinerary will conclude with trips to famous cities like Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.

Mollie, who has only previously been to Germany for a day en route to Italy, is spending two weeks with a host family in Bremerhaven, where she will visit the local school too.

On their return to the UK, Ruby and Mollie will visit two local primary schools where they will share their experiences, which it is hoped will encourage more pupils to consider German as a GCSE and A Level option.

All scholarship applicants were required to demonstrate their interest in German culture and achieved strong academic results in the language – Ruby and Mollie both attained Grade 8 GCSEs.

Before flying out to Germany, Ruby admitted she was still trying to digest the “special” opportunities that the scholarship will give her.

“I’m really excited because I’ve never been abroad, so it’s going to be a totally new experience,” Ruby explained. “It doesn’t even feel real to be one of the people who have been chosen for the scholarship, because it’s something so special and amazing and lots of people across the country applied.

“Going to Bonn to meet the other international groups to have an international evening is really exciting because there are people from Latvia, Mongolia, Canada and many other countries, so it’s such a mix. During the middle two weeks, I’m staying with my host family in Baden-Wurttemberg.

“I’ve already spoke to the girl I’m staying with. She seems really nice and I’ll be visiting her school.

“For the last two weeks, we’re going to Munich and Berlin where we’ll visit museums and we’re going up the Zugspitze mountain too, which is really exciting because I’ve had a look at it and it looks beautiful up there. I want to study in Germany one day and go on to work there and this trip will be fully immersive because I’m not supposed to speak English while I’m there.

“It will be four straight weeks of speaking German, so I will be coming back knowing more than I ever have done and I’ll also be surrounded by the culture, which will be good to bring back to lessons. I really like the music and arts scene in Germany.

“In class, we’ve learned about the music in Berlin and the street art and architecture around the country, so I’m really excited that I’ll be seeing that first-hand. The class is brilliant and (languages tutor) Alison (Armstrong) always goes above and beyond in terms of providing us with everything we need to know about Germany culturally.

“The atmosphere is also so friendly and that makes learning a language a less daunting experience, because it is a big step up from GCSE but, when you’ve got the right people around you, it makes it a really good environment to learn.”

Mollie is also looking forward to a fully immersive experience and the impact it will have on her German language fluency.

“I am staying with two girls – aged 16 and 11 – and I will be going to their school at some point,” Mollie said. “I will be having language lessons, experiencing the town (Bremerhaven in Bremen) and going on day trips.

“It will be really immersive and I’ll be surrounded by the German language, so it will improve my language skills and I’ll get a feel for what it would be like to live in the country. In lessons, we learn the grammar rules but, being there, I’ll be able to apply them and it will help really ferment my understanding of the language when I hear it.

“I’m also looking forward to picking up on vocabulary. A lot of the words we learn are for the syllabus or exams, so I’m looking forward to learning daily-life vocabulary.

“I’ve only been to Germany once before for a day when we were travelling through and stopped for lunch on our way to Italy, but I’ve really enjoyed learning in class about the different festivals they have which we don’t really see in England, like Oktoberfest and it’s somewhere I’d like to travel to and work in the future. I find it really interesting how German people celebrate their culture and other cultures that have come into their country.

“This year has felt like a really big step up from GCSE and everybody in the class wants to be there. Our teacher Alison is lovely and great, so there’s a really nice atmosphere where everybody wants to learn and improve their German.”

York College & University Centre languages tutor Alison Armstrong expressed her pride at Ruby and Mollie being selected for the scholarship and declared both worthy recipients.

“I’m absolutely delighted that they have both won scholarships,” Alison declared. “It’s not an easy thing to win - so few people in the country have done - but we’ve had students do it before and to get two in one A Level group is just amazing.

“We offer our students the opportunity to apply for the scholarship every year and we support them with it because it’s a really wonderful opportunity and I’m very proud of Ruby and Mollie’s commitment to the language and their interest in and enthusiasm for it. I think this will really enrichen their German studies by helping them understand the culture better.

“While their language skills are already very good, I think this will also help them with their fluency and comprehension and staying with families will bring their language skills on. They are both committed, hard-working students who are fully engaged in every part of the course and very mature for their age.

“For the scholarship, they had to write a full essay in German and it was quite a long application form. It’s hard work to learn a language too, but they’ve embraced it all and I’ve seen them make massive progress in terms of their language skills since the start of the year, which has been really rewarding.

“I believe they will come back with greater confidence in terms of speaking the language and they will have a broader vocabulary, including more colloquial German. They’ll also have a greater idea of what German life is like.

“Ruby has never been to Germany, so she will really see what she’s learnt in the classroom. She has never been abroad either so, to be away for a month, is a very big adventure for her – a wonderful and challenging one.”

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