The First Week
The First Week
Natalie was in Germany before, and excited to be back!
Germany, the land of philosophy, law, advanced technology, and football, which attract me to come visit over and over again.
When I knew that I got the offer to come to Goethe University to work as an intern, I was extremely happy as I have visited germany before and am happy to return and explore more. For the first few weekends, I visited some cities near Frankfurt. I went to Darmstadt for the Schlossgrabenfest 2018. It was my first time to participate in such a big music festival as there are no such big events like this happening in Hong Kong. I was really impressed by that, and really enjoyed the music atmosphere there.
On the next weekend, I went to Rüdesheim am Rhein. The stunning view from the monument surprised me. Unlike the other tourists who take the cable car to go up the hill, me and my company went up there by a little hike. Although it was a bit tough at the end as we were searching for shortcuts and walked into the mud, I had a great sense of success when I reached the top and saw the beautiful village with the lovely Rhine river. This is what I cannot see and experience back home in my home city.
I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Germany in the upcoming weekends, especially when the World Cup starts, which I expect to show me the enthusiasm for soccer by German people!
Nancy enjoyed a warm welcome at the IGS Süd school
In the first week of our stay on Frankfurt at the Goethe University, we went to the IGS Süd school to observe classes. IGS Süd is a primary school that encourages independent learning. In the English class, students need to work on a task book independently, and they will have a test after finishing each task book. If they pass the test they can go on to the next task. The English teacher goes around to provide help when needed. This way, students can control their own study pace and the role of the teacher turns from instructor to facilitator. This teaching method is very different from the methods used in China. In China, most of the schools adopt the traditional teaching method in which teachers control the classroom and speak more than the pupils during class. Under this teaching method, students cannot control their own pace and get little chance to speak in class. However, even though the teaching method in IGS Süd is good for enhancing students' independent learning, China will not be able to simply change to this teaching method, as teachers and students are under the pressure of university entrance exams. These exams are standardized and summative exams, therefore highly independent learning cannot ensure students' performance in the exam.
It made me think about how to enhance independent learning as a teacher in China, but also ensure that students reach a good grade at their final exam. I reckon task-based learning might help. Teachers ask students to finish one task based on their own interest every semester. In this way, students can use their knowledge to solve a problem and they can choose their topic of interest and work at their own pace, which can facilitate independent learning.
I enjoyed staying in the IGS Süd, because teachers and students there were very friendly. They invited us to join the summer festival that coming Friday and we spent a great afternoon there. I even got a very lovely letter from some students, with some german expressions for me to learn. I was very thankful to be there.
Above: Natalie, Nancy and Mr. Haenssig at the Campus Riedberg. Picture source: ABL.
Below: Nancy and Natalie at the Body of Knowledge statue at Campus Westend. Picture source: ABL.
Dresden & Luxembourg
Dresden & Luxembourg
Our second weekend in Germany, Nancy and me made a road trip together. The first stop was the best known sight on the romantic road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I was amazed by the stunning view when walking up to the tower. I enjoyed the medieval style of the old town very much. Although we only spent a short time there, I am definitely fascinated by the charming medieval atmosphere it transpires.
Our second stop was the capital of the free state of Saxony, Dresden. Before we went there, we didn’t know what a unique collection of historic buildings, history and art it holds. When we were standing in front of Dresden’s Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) at night, we recognized the history this church carries. The dark color of the old stones and the dimensional differences in the joint areas between the new and old masonry, symbolically showed us the damage of the Second World War, the reconstruction and reconciliation. It was impressive to look back into history and imagine what had happened on the land that I was standing on, not even that long ago.
To summarize, I really enjoy visiting different parts of Germany and exploring this country in different perspectives by looking at the natural scenery, the architecture, art, history, and so on.
Last week Natalie and I visited the Phorms school to observe their classes, including secondary and primary level classes. Phorms is a private bilingual school, and most of the subjects are taught in English, therefore the English proficiency of students is high. In primary level classes we observed different subjects for different grades and we saw that the students did a great job in their final project; playing drama and singing songs. The school offers the reception class for children who are five years of age. Reception is part of the primary school’s plan to aim at identifying student' talents at an early age and providing support effectively. In reception class there are a lot of playful learning activities that help children experience a smooth transition from nursery to primary school. I think this is very good practice which helps students learn English and getting prepared for primary school.
I travelled around Luxembourg on the weekend. It was my first time travelling alone. Luxembourg is the only remaining grand duchy and it has beautiful landscape scenes and valleys. In this journey I came across a lot of unexpected situations. For example, when I arrived in the city I found that I could not connect to the internet. It caused some trouble to my journey since I could not use the map. Luckily, I searched a lot of information beforehand so that I could find the place I wanted to sleep at successfully. Also, on my journey back, the train was cancelled, and this really caused me some trouble. Lucky enough the people there were very kind and they helped me to translate the information provided. With their help I was able to take the next train and go back home safely. I learned more independency and bravery to face difficulties in life from this journey.
Above: Natalie in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Picture source: Natalie & Nancy
Trier & Prague
Trier & Prague
Time flies. I am staying in Germany one month already. Everything is going well and I really enjoy my time here. I enjoy visiting different places in Germany, so I stopped by some cities when I was on my way to Luxembourg last weekend.
First of all, I experienced a vertiginous adventure in Mörsdorf for the most beautiful suspension bridge in Germany. The bridge is 360 metres long and 100 metres above the Mörsdorfer Bach valley. While I was on the middle of the bridge, I could see the beautiful scenery of the forest and the wonderful blue sky. It was an awesome experience for me. Although this place is probably not the best-known tourist spot, it is definitely worth going there.
After Mörsdorf, I went to the oldest city in Germany, Trier. It was so impressive when I saw the Porta Nigra, known as the black gate. The gate was build during the roman empire and now it is still standing in front of me. I walked pass Karl Max’s house, and all the things that I have learnt about him at school suddenly flashed back into my mind.
Visiting these two different places has given me completely different impressions of Germany, and allows me to learn more about the country that I am staying at.
Above: Moersdorf Bridge. Picture source: Natalie
Below: Porta Nigra in Trier. Picture source: Natalie
Last week, we went to Gymnasium Riedberg for our school visit. The Gymnasium Riedberg is a new secondary school and we were amazed by the school facilities. It was the last week of the school semester when we were there and the school used it as a project learning week. We joined the Chinese project and for three days, and we experienced different Chinese cultures in the school, including Taiji, Chinese painting and calligraphy and Chinese arts and crafts. We had a great time there. For me, even though I was born in and grew up in China, I got little chance to learn Chinese culture. I liked the Chinese painting and calligraphy lesson very much because this was my first time to write and draw using a brush. At the end of the lesson, I created my own work, which made me be proud of myself. In these three days, I have learned more about Chinese culture. Also, I think conducting project learning week is a good idea to help students explore their own interests and learn more out of the curriculum.
At weekend, I went travel with Natalie. We went to Prague, which is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. Prague is a beautiful city and we enjoyed our time staying there. In Prague, we visited many places of interest and tried a lot Czech food, which was very delicious. Although we had difficulties in understanding Czech history because we do not understand its language, we still tried to learn more about its history by getting information on the internet and reading books. For example, I read the story of Jan Hus and the history of the Reformation, so when I saw his monument on the Old Town Square, I could understand him better. Overall, this is an unforgettable memory to me.
Above: Nancy at Gymnasium Riedberg. Picture source: Nancy
Below: Prague. Picture source: Nancy
Relaxing in Frankfurt
Relaxing in Frankfurt
We spent the whole last week in the university, attending different courses. It was interesting to notice the difference between Hong Kong and Germany lectures during classes. In Hong Kong, when teachers ask questions, students will keep silent while in Germany, students are more active and more willing to answer the question. I like the classroom atmosphere in Germany because it motivates me to think deeper of the question instead of being a passive listener. The course "gender issues in film" impressed me a lot. Gender issues in movies is an interesting topic. In this course the teacher connects to the gender issues with film and education, which made me become more aware of gender issues in education. For example, how to guide students to establish their own identity of gender. Though it was a pity that sometimes I had difficulties in understanding the content, like some technical terms and concept because I only attended the last few sessions, in general, I enjoyed the courses at the university.
Since I was very tired last week, I did not travel at the weekend. To make the weekend count anyway, I planned my following journeys. It´ll be to Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. I already booked the bus tickets and hostels. My resume of this weekend: relaxing :)
Vienna & Budapest
Vienna & Budapest
Last week, we had classes at university and since it was the end of the semester, we observed different micro-teaching in the class. It reminded me of the time I have micro-teaching when I was so scared my voice trembled. Looking back at that time, I found that fear is meaningless because it only made me perform worse. I should be braver next time and I can do better.
At the weekend we went to Vienna, which is the federal capital and largest city of Austria. On the way to Vienna, Natalie suddenly suggested that we should go to Budapest on the second day in Vienna because it is close to Vienna. Then we booked the bus ticket from Vienna to Budapest very spontaneously. This was an quite adventure.
Nancy on the Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest (above), together with Nataie (below), and in front of the Gloriette Schönbrunn in Vienna, Picturesource: Nancy.
On the first day in Vienna, we joined a city tour and travelled around the city. On the second day, we went to Budapest and spent a great time there. I like this city because it is very colorfull. Unlike Prague where all the buildings have a red roof, buildings in Budapest have very different colors, which makes the city attractive. Also, the Parliament building looks splendid, it was a pity that we could not get inside!
In Vienna, we also visited the State Opera and the Golden Hall. We were lucky that there was a competition conducted in the Golden Hall, so I could get the chance to sit in the Golden Hall and enjoy the music. It was amazing and a wonderful experience.