Teaching degree students of Mainz University gain experience in Scottish schools

German Educational Trainees Across Borders program places Mainz students in Scottish schools to teach German


Student teacher trainees for English at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) now have the opportunity to improve their practical skills in the English language by working as trainees at Scottish schools. The project involves collaboration between Mainz University, Scotland's National Centre for Languages (SCILT), and the German Consulate General in Edinburgh. The German Educational Trainees (GET) Across Borders program is designed to place JGU students of English at Scottish schools that want to use a German native speaker to enliven their lessons and encourage intercultural dialog.

The German Consulate General sees the GET program as a valuable and sustained way of enhancing Germany's relationship with Scotland, which has the dual purpose of promoting the German language and providing an insight into the Germany of today. Following a successful test phase last year, the long-term program started with the 2013/2014 school year and will be officially launched at a ceremony to be held at the Goethe Institute in Glasgow on November 15, 2013. Professor Wolfgang Hofmeister, Vice President for Research at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and chairperson of the JGU Senate Committee for Internationalization, Rainer Henkel von Klaß, Director of the JGU International Office, and PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts of the JGU Department of English and Linguistics, initiator of the GET program, will be present at the ceremony.

"At Mainz University, we see internationalization as an interdisciplinary task that is the responsibility of all our faculties and institutions. Internationalization also involves training our students to become global citizens, in other words, cosmopolitan and well-informed individuals with the skills to compete in a global marketplace," explained Vice President Professor Wolfgang Hofmeister. "This joint project with Scotland thus represents an excellent opportunity for up to 20 of our teaching degree students to gain valuable practical experience in Scottish schools and immerse in a different culture. The requirement is that they are studying to become English teachers, and ideally their minor subject should be German, but Politics or History is also suitable.

PD Dr. Sigrid Rieuwerts of the Department of English and Linguistics at Mainz University, who is currently a Fellow in Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, initiated the project. Julia Kaiser, a test group participant and so called ‘trailblazer’ for the program, found the project and her work as a language assistant very rewarding: "Not only did I experience a different school system, I also learned a lot about Scottish culture. The constant need to communicate in English helped me get a better feel for the language. I was also able to collect many ideas that I will be able to use in my subsequent teaching career."

As German educational trainees, German students will be able to gain valuable practical teaching experience at Scottish schools. During their six-month stay, they are employed at one or two schools in Scotland, where they teach German for 10 to 16 hours a week. The Goethe Institute in Glasgow and SCILT provide them with specialist and organizational support. "Scotland wants to stop the dramatic decline in foreign language teaching at schools. It’s a win-win situation: Scotland receives support in the teaching of German and our teaching degree students of English, who are obliged to learn or work in an English-speaking country for at least one semester, gain invaluable experience. The GET program gives them the opportunity to go to Scotland for practical school training," explained Rieuwerts and added that both sides see this as a great enrichment for all involved.

The stay abroad is to be financed by the EU Service Point at the International Office of Mainz University and Scottish councils. "Generous terms have been agreed to make sure the financial burden would not be a hurdle for potential participants," explained Rainer Henkel von Klaß, Director of JGU's International Office.