The initiative is undertaken at local level.
Target group: secondary (grammar school) students from grade 8-12 (13-18 years)
The project involves cooperation with two postgraduate students of Freie Universität Berlin who have functioned as project launchers.
The initiative involves support for and establishment of a partnership with a comprehensive school in Guatemala.
An exchange programme for teachers and students has been started.
Covered language(s): Spanish and (to a very small degree) indigenous Maya languages.
A ‘real’ motivation for students to learn Spanish has been achieved by creating anauthentic communicative demand.
The language learning process is closely connected to other, more general learning
Specific structure of the initiative: a group of teachers plus postgraduate students;the initiative is not officially controlled.
Project launched by 2 university students (Freie Universität Berlin) who were looking
for school contact in order to carry out a humanitarian help initiative.
Project aim: to organize support for a school in Santiago de Atitlán (Guatemala), destroyed by a natural disaster (landslide) in October 2005.
The project is outside the official curriculum. There are, however, many points of contact which allow to relate it to the standard language classes on different levels.
September 2007-spring 2008:
several other fund-raising activities are carried out.
22 May – 7 June 2008:
planned return visit by Guatemaltecan teachers and students to Berlin:
The project was proposed to us by two postgraduate university students who function as project-launchers. They had contact to the partner school and were looking for support by secondary students to carry out the humanitarian project.
Our interest in the initiative is based on the conviction that it provides our students with a natural, ‘content’-based motivation for their learning activities. It helps to create real communicative needs and thus to make the Spanish language become a part of the students’ life outside the regular language class-room.
Furthermore, it goes together with other reform projects carried out at our school which aim at overcoming the strict borders between school subjects. In this case, teachers of Spanish Language and Political Science have started a closer cooperation.
A new interest in the Spanish language has been created also in students with no focus on language learning.
Optional demand-based Spanish courses for group members have been asked for and carried out.
The initiative has proved its sustainability by leaving the inner circle of the project group and reaching wider circles of our student population. The next highlight will be the forthcoming return visit by our Guatemaltecan partner school. On this occasion
several meetings between the guests and our regular Spanish learning classes are planned.
The following factors can be seen as decisive ones for the success of the initiative:
In Germany, the learning of an L2 is obligatory. Obviously, this fact can be considered one keystone for the development of multilingual competences. However, experience shows that only part of the students reaches the competence theoretically aimed for in curricula, as many fail to connect the L2 to their personal life.
Our initiative is a clear example of the value and effectiveness of project-based learning programmes incorporating the L2-learning into a wider, interdisciplinary context which provides real communicative demands and thus considerably enhances the students’ motivation for learning an L2.