German lessons have taken place in Belvedere since the 1930’s! These were initiated by a young Jesuit called Fr. Franz Schrenk from the former Sudetenland (Czech Republic), who was stranded in Ireland when WW2 broke out. He stayed in Belvedere until his death in 1992.
Why learn German?
German is spoken in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and a large part of Switzerland. It is a significant language in the countries bordering Germany, especially Northern Italy (South Tyrol). Over 100 million people speak German as their native language and 200 million people communicate worldwide in German. More people speak German as their native language in Europe than any other language. German is the most commonly used language on the Internet after English and is the second most commonly used scientific language.
Germany is the largest economy in Europe, the third largest in the world and is closely associated with high technology industries (for example Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Siemens, Adidas to name a few). Over 250 German companies operate in Ireland employing 15,000 staff here. Germany is Ireland’s third largest trading partner. 70% of Irish exporters to Germany use German in their business dealings. Even in a recession, there are significant job opportunities for people with English as their native language alongside a working knowledge of German. 300,000 German tourists visit Ireland every year. 18% of books worldwide are published in German. 7,600 students sat German in the Leaving Cert in June 2017. Numbers taking up German at second level schools have increased by 800 in the last two years. Examples of German words include “Gold Maus Theater Wasser Apfel das Auto” – bet you know what they mean! German is easier than you think!
German in Belvedere College
In Belvedere, we have a dedicated German room which immerses students in the language. There are teaching posters on all walls with material from the Junior Cycle Curriculum, pictures of the various sites we visit in Vienna and in Kaprun (skiing part of the Transition Year exchange) as well as boards to display students’ work and a dedicated vocabulary board.
There is a lending library with Easy Readers and a reference section with dictionaries, grammar books and verb wheels. There is also a shelf where boys can leave their text books if they prefer to use them in class rather than the Ipad. For the past ten years we have had a German Assistant from either Trier University or the University of Saarland. They are young students who are available to work with students who have been ill or who would like extra help. They also help students practise their dialogues and stories and general conversation for their Leaving Certificate orals. They are also available to work during class time or after school with gifted students or any German student who wants to do a little bit of extra oral or written work.
The vast majority of students who pick German in the junior cycle pick it again for the senior cycle. 99.9% of German students sit the Junior and Leaving Cert exams at higher level. German Leaving Cert results in Belvedere are very much above the national average. Some of our students have won scholarships based on their results in German in the Leaving Certificate.
The main text used for the first three years is called Viel Spaβ – lots of fun and that is what learning German is – lots of fun! Your son should try it! German in Transition Year (TY) is dynamic and practical. It varies from learning how to read menus, how to ask for directions, how to discuss the pros and cons of TY etc. Some of the modules include DVDs and worksheets varying from a German version of Friends to a BBC teaching course. The highlight of the year is an exchange trip to a Jesuit school based in a former royal palace with magnificent grounds in the very heart of Vienna. In the Leaving Cert cycle, students also take part in German debates between schools teaching German.
Skills acquired by learning German
The key skill that your son will gain from the study of German is that of communication. He will be confident to talk about himself, his family, his friends, his school, his hobbies, his immediate neighbourhood etc. He will also be able to understand simple conversations and respond to the other person. He will learn survival skills for a stay in a German speaking country, such as how to ask for directions, how to order in a restaurant, how to read signs, go shopping etc. He will be able to read and understand simple pieces in German. He will be able to explore the culture of German speaking countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland; learning about their customs and traditions and their educational systems. He will also learn about the different types of food and drink in German speaking areas.
German is a very logical language. It is like building a house. If you put in a solid foundation, everything else will fall into place. The student who chooses German should be able to make connections and to make logical assumptions. The most successful German students are those who are prepared to study material every evening for 10 minutes. A little and often is the best method! German is also suited to the student who can work independently as well as in partnership with others. The student of German should above all enjoy learning the language!
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