Sixth Formers had last-minute practice for their German exams by attending a language school in Berlin. For most of the 14 students it was their second trip to the city, where they spent three hours a day attending classes. The formal education was reinforced by the fact that they stayed with landladies who only spoke German or Russian in the former East Berlin.
Hannah Sneddon said: ‘Again, Berlin was an amazing experience! It is just such a great city and such a good feeling when you talk to people in German and they actually understand you! The definite highlight of the trip was when we went up to the revolving restaurant at the top of the Fernsehturm and watched Berlin go by at sunset. It was beautiful!’
Paul McHutchinson said: ‘Since the last time we went in July my German has really improved so I felt much more confident speaking with the locals; Tom and I sat up for one night with our host family talking about everything and we were completely at ease doing it in German which was an amazing feeling.’
The students, who were accompanied by Mr and Mrs Nicholls and German language assistant Janina Boltze, spent time seeing the city’s sights, including a massive flak tower, one of a number of fortified anti-aircraft structures built by Hitler. The towers were so large they could accommodate tens of thousands of people in air raids. They also visited the Stasi prison where the East German secret police would imprison and interrogate suspects. It comprises 110 cells and 120 identical interrogation rooms; with each prisoner only being seen by the same interrogator for months at a time.
Maraid McKinney said: ‘I got to spend one day in a primary school and it was the best experience ever. I went into a Year 3 English lesson and helped out which was really good. I think the trip was absolutely amazing and we are thinking of going back again every summer. Sitting in an A2 German Literature lesson in Janina's old school was quite hard but very interesting, and it was strange to see the students in their own clothes and eating in the classroom.’
Harpreet Bhelley said: ‘I thought that going back might not be as exciting as the last time but Berlin lived up to everyone’s expectations the second time round. Having traditional Kaffee und Kuchen at the top of the Fernsehturm was amazing but I think the best aspect of the trip was going to school. Sitting in a classroom for three hours with a man that insists on speaking only German might be a bit exasperating but it definitely improves your German speaking skills! It was the best way we could have prepared for our speaking exam!’