Monday 23rd August 2010 by C. Freeman
A group of 13 students visited Berlin to take part in a summer school over the recent holidays. The students, who are all studying German at A Level, stayed with host families and saw some of Berlin's most famous sights, as well as having study sessions for three hours per day.
They were accompanied by Mr Nicholls, his wife and German assistant Janina Boltze. In the evenings the group dined at a restaurant that was a former coffin shop, visited the iconic Potsdamer Platz, had a three-hour boat trip around the city and rounded their visit off with a barbecue at Janina's house on the final night.
Our students in 2009.
Mr Nicholls said: 'They turned up faithfully each morning for three hours teaching. I wanted the language school to concentrate on speaking skills so they were doing role plays and acting things out, it was a teaching session just for our students. The rest of the time they were learning more about the history of Berlin and Germany.
'We went to the Stasi museum, which showed all the surveillance devices such as tree trunks with cameras in and a watering can which was used to snoop on people in cemeteries.'
2008 - Different year, same location!
Hannah Sneddon said: 'It was the best experience of my life! I was a little bit worried because I was not very confident speaking German and knew I was being thrown in at the deep end but once I got there it was a completely different story. I stayed with a a woman who spoke hardly any English so my only way to communicate was in German and on our first night we sat and had a three hour conversation; which really boosted my confidence.
Mr Nicholls with students from his previous school in 2004.
'Berlin is an amazing city that I had always wanted to visit and I would love to live there one day, the people are so friendly and there is so much to see and absorb from the culture. I didn't want to come home and was actually tempted to chain myself to something!I can't wait to go back!'
Harpreet Bhelley said: 'Berlin was the best trip I've ever been on! We'd all sit together at the U-Bahn station in the evenings laughing and talking like we'd been great friends for so many years! The language school we attended really improved our speaking and listening skills. You got a real confidence boost from being able to communicate with someone in their language! The highlight of the trip was the barbecue at Janina's house! Typically, us British brought the rain but that didn't ruin the day for us!'
It's 1970 and Mr Nicholls is pictured front, third from left.
Peter Duke said: 'The highlight of my trip was the first conversation I had unaided with a German person, explaining to them about a hidden microphone in the East Germany Museum. It was amazing fun and that one point where you realise 'Hang on - I speak German' is the best feeling ever. We also bought Mr Nicholls a thank-you tie with the Ampelmann (East Berlin's version of a traffic light man) using nothing but pfand (a deposit that you can get back on plastic bottles!'
The students also visited the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) and had their picture taken with Mr Nicholls. For him it was the fifth time in 40 years that he has been pictured at the iconic building. He first went then in 1970 as part of a student group. Since then he has been pictured there with students from his previous school in Brighton as well as three separate groups from Brooke Weston.