El plan plurilingüístico del colegio San Cernin contempla el aprendizaje del alemán como tercera opción de idioma moderno. Nuestros alumnos, cuyo futuro pasa por Europa, tienen la posibilidad de elegir esta lengua en su currículo a partir de secundaria, un aprendizaje que se compatibiliza con el perfeccionamiento del inglés y el francés. Cuando empiecen a buscar trabajo, saber alemán les dará más opciones frente a otros candidatos. Y, además, habrán aprendido nociones básicas de una sociedad -de su cultura y modo de hacer- que sigue siendo líder en nuestro entorno más inmediato.


Se realizan intercambios a Alemania en Secundaria. En 3º van a Paderborn, ciudad hermanada con Pamplona, durante una semana, desde hace ya nueve años. El intercambio de 4º de ESO se realiza con Overath, y dura entre 10-12 días. Ambos intercambios tienen lugar en diciembre, incluyen estancia en familia, actividades culturales y disfrute del ambiente festivo previo a la Navidad.


A continuación reproducimos un extracto del artículo publicado sobre Paderborn en nuestra revista la mandrágora correspondiente a marzo de 2012.


20 editions of exchanges to Overath


Los intercambios con Overath, que surgieron por la  iniciativa  y la intuición de José Miguel Ruiz y con la energía inagotable de Ursula Doetsch, han cumplido su 20ª edición. Ella misma,  profesora de San Cernin, relata con detalle la experiencia.


The beginning and José Miguel Ruiz

It is to the former headmaster, José Miguel Ruiz, full credit that this exchange came about. It was not just his initiative, but also his special interest in this our first exchange with a German school that made it possible.


Agreement with Paul Klee Gymnasyum

The P-K-G (Paul Klee Gymnasium) was interested in an exchange with our school. Herr Möhring, the Spanish teacher of the school had previously contacted José Miguel. I contacted Herr Möhring in Overath, while I was in Germany. Overath is quite close to Cologne (a 25 km drive on the motorway).

Both headmasters agreed on the respective terms of our programme and so our mutual exchange with Overath started in 1991/1992. In other words, San Cernin’s first exchange with Overath went ahead at the end of November 1991, at the beginning of Advent, a most beautiful and special time in Germany, owing to its many Christmas Markets, St. Nicholas’ Day, home baked cakes, Christmas cookies and so on.


Places visited during exchanges

We went to cities like Cologne (climbing more than 500 steps up to the Southern tower of the Cathedral, visiting the Roman Museum and the Chocolate Museum), then Bonn (visiting the birthplace of Ludwig Van Beethoven, The Museum of Contemporary German History and, if time was available, the amazing Science Museum König) and Münster (where we were given a guided tour at the location where the Peace of Westphalia treaties were signed). Later on I added Aachen (Aquisgrán) as an alternative to Münster, which was too far away. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. We even went to Nuremberg twice, visiting the birthplace of Albert Dürer and staying overnight at the famous castle (the landmark of the city), which has been turned into a Youth Hostel.


José Miguel Ruiz kindly used to inform our pupils about the structures of the Cathedral of Cologne and German Romanesque churches before they went on the Overath exchange. As a result, they were all eyes and ears, listening to the Spanish guide on our visits to Romanesque churches, such as St. Martin’s or St. María im Kapitol, or cathedrals like those of Cologne and Aachen.


 These cultural visits are the core of the German exchange. If the pupil pays attention to what is explained to him by the tour guides, he will come back to school with a store of new knowledge and he will benefit from this input as part of the school curriculum -history, geography, social sciences...- not to mention his newly acquired language skills.


The aim of the exchange

The principal aim of this exchange was and still is: direct contact with –better, a still immersion into the language they are learning, but it is also intended to offer a way for pupils to experience a potentially different way of life and go on as many cultural visits as possible.

I gave them homework every day of the Intensive Course, the idea being that this way they would involve their host family or their German friend, and this would draw them closer together on their free afternoons. We prepared vocabulary contests: They had to to write down every unknown word they saw  everywhere or which they had heard. They had to learn them by heart.


Differences between Spain and Germany

I would no longer speak of a different culture: in our age of globalization and Hi-Tech development, the boundaries between countries have almost been erased and there are no special or major differences or features amongst today’s global youth: they do the same things, they have the same interests, they even think the same way. The only boundary is language itself and this is the reason these exchanges are so valuable and worthwhile because, in the end, during an exchange they do add quite a lot of the target language to whatever they had learned before.


Benefits of the experience

The exchange will open many doors for them in their future life. Almost all the pupils who have gone on a German exchange (not just once, but sometimes three or four times) have done (at least) the first diploma of the Goethe Institut, the Zertifikat. Some, later on, have even reached the highest level in the Goethe Institut exams, and then gone to Germany. Some got married there, while others are still working and living there. Others, a fair number in fact, went to Germany as part of an Erasmus Programme and then went on studying at a German University, and have come back home as qualified engineers.

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