A group of 18 pupils from Bethnal Green Academy in London recently travelled to Berlin with Arsenal in the Community’s Double Club Languages programme. The trip was part of an exciting new documentary about the project being produced by German TV channel Deutsche Welle.
The pupils have been learning German this year through the Double Club Languages programme, which aims to stimulate language learning by fusing academic studies with football. Football-themed classroom resources, together with coaching sessions using key words in the target language provided the impetus for a school trip that would allow pupils to put their language skills into practise during their five-day stay in the German capital.
An activity-packed timetable included a visit to Rütli-Schule, an inner-city Berlin secondary school with a similar profile to that of Bethnal Green Academy. A common interest in each other's languages, religion and football contributed to a highly successful integration between pupils and hopefully the start of a working relationship between the two schools.
Pupils also had a chance to explore the city, visiting attractions including the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin Wall. The boys, who represent their school's football team, were also offered the unique opportunity to train at the training facilities of Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin SC and watch their game against Hoffenheim live at the Olympiastadion.
MFL Director of Learning at Bethnal Green Academy, Elizabeth Manrique, said: "Bethnal Green Academy has been involved with the Arsenal Double Club Languages programme for the past year and it has had an outstanding impact on our students. The project kicked off using football as a way to encourage students to take an interest in languages; that is no longer necessary. Through travel, students have had the authentic opportunity to discover for themselves the doors that languages can open, and every single young person involved now sees language as a big part of their future".
Frazer Scott Wilson, a Year 8 pupil, added: "I did not know until I had the chance to meet and talk with German people in Berlin that university is free in Germany. My plan now is to become fluent in German so that in a few years I can continue my studies and get a degree there. Football was just the hook that got me interested, but I love the language now, with or without football".
Double Club Languages Coordinator, Steve Eadon, who joined the group in Berlin, said: "This trip, in terms of its impact on the boys, has far exceeded my own expectations. We wanted to include a bit of everything in the right quantities - football, tourist attractions, interaction with the German school, and of course - language. The results will tell you we managed to achieve that. All partners involved in bringing this project together deserve special praise - the Goethe-Institut London, UK-German Connection, Deutsche Welle and of course the two schools. I'd also like to put on record my thanks to our friends at Hertha BSC for being so accommodating and making the boys' time in Berlin truly memorable.”
Deutsche Welle’s documentary featuring Bethnal Green Academy is due to air this summer.
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