When languages met science…

Students from Cornwall and Göttingen rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into a work-experience exchange that focused on building skills for the workplace. The partner schools brought languages and science together as part of their activities for the first time this year and there was real chemistry between them…

Who: Truro College, Callywith College & The Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium Göttingen 

Participants: 18 British and 18 German pupils 

Skills for life

The link between Truro College, Callywith College & The Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium is a long-standing and successful one. Their work-experience exchange is highly popular among the pupils, who stay with host families in Germany and carry out a week-long work-experience placement while they are there. This year, with the support of a School Partnership Bursary from UK-German Connection, the students had a taste of the world of work in primary schools, a café, a garage and a nursing home. Taking part offered the young people not only complete immersion in the German language and culture but also valuable experience as preparation for their future study and careers.

The experiment

In 2018 for the first time, 12 science students joined the exchange with the aim of not only boosting numbers, but also developing cross-curricular collaboration as an integral part of their partnership. The science students, who also stayed with German families, took part in some German lessons to prepare themselves before the trip and make the most of their intercultural experience.

Ground-breaking discoveries

While the language students carried out their work-placements, the budding scientists took part in a week of science-related visits, talks and experiments, including a hands-on demonstration of Nobel Prize Winner Stefan Hell’s imaging of cellular structures at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. They also spent three days experimenting at the XLAB in Göttingen and visited the Otto Bock company, famous for pioneering prosthetic limb research, the Institute for Astrophysics and the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research, where they witnessed the recent Mars landing. Though all of this, students gained a unique insight into the importance of collaboration both between different scientific disciplines but also between countries, as they work together on ground-breaking research, development and discovery.

Broadening horizons

For the young people, the visit boosted not only boosted their confidence in speaking German but also their interest in future intercultural experiences: “I feel a lot more confident about speaking German now. The work experience was particularly useful, and the people were so helpful when I got stuck with the language.” Another student said, “I would love to return one day to study or work. I feel inspired to pursue my further studies in science and to try to learn the German language”.

Want to find out more about this exchange? Read the full report