My first four weeks as a German language assistant in Suffolk (South East of England)

Arriving in Woodbridge…

Hello from Woodbridge, a very pretty little town in Suffolk in East Anglia. Since four weeks I am assisting in German lessons at a secondary public school. My first days in England overwhelmed me with speedy everyday English, meeting lots of new people, and getting used to my new work place. But since then I have settled in and got a daily routine.

After several times of getting lost I now know my way to school, shops, post office, cafes etc. I have learned to turn the switch before plugging in my laptop and that biscuits are not always supposed to be sweet! By the way, I really enjoy eating cheese on crackers, like my host family does and many people I was invited to eat dinner with.

Woodbridge – rural and pretty

My very kind and welcoming host mother made it easier for me to encounter Woodbridge and the surrounding area.  She showed me around during my first days and still does on weekends, so that I got to know the town centre of Woodbridge with its historic buildings, a tide mill, the former port of Woodbridge where goods were transported into town, the seaside with its lovely pears, beautiful walks through the countryside and so much more.  The area I live in is rural, but still pretty, and has lots of interesting historic places. A remarkable difference from my life in Germany is the rare public transport around Woodbridge. Whereas in Germany I use the train to get to University and often rely on buses, bus lines are rarely available at my place. Here I often go by foot to reach my workplace and other facilities.  Sometimes I really miss public transport. Though people often offer me lifts, I don’t want to be too dependent on them.  Fortunately, there is a train station, so that I could visit cities like Norwich or Colechester the last weekends. I find it astonishing how easily I can do day trips to bigger cities whereas it takes hours to go to the seaside by bus (it takes 10 minutes in the car).  But I shouldn’t complain, since I appreciate the countryside and walking is ever so good for one’s health!

Seaside in Aldeburgh
Seaside in Aldeburgh
Woodbridge Station - view on River Deben
Woodbridge Station – view on River Deben


Assisting in German Lessons

Now that you got some impressions of the place I stay, I’ll report on my experiences as a German language assistant so far.  The school I am assisting at is really huge – 2000 students! The school building is divided into departments. When I’m at work I spend nearly all my time in the languages department where German, French and Spanish is taught and the staff I am working with are all foreign language teachers.

My task is mainly to practice speaking and pronunciation with students from year 8 until year 13. The work with the students from year 12 and 13 is very different from working with younger students.  I have one to one meetings with each student from year 12 and 13. Only a few chose German in the A Levels. In Great Britain high school students choose 3 to 4 subjects for their A-Levels. The combination of these subjects is completely up to the learners and not many choose languages.  This fact astonishes me since it differs a lot from what I experienced at school in Germany.

Interestingly, each one to one meeting is slightly different though I discuss the same topic each week.  I enjoy getting to know the students individual strengths and struggles in learning German but also their personal interests.  Whereas with students from year 12 and 13 I speak German all the time, it is hard to stick with only German in younger classes. Usually, I stay with one class for half an hour and then switch to the next. Sometimes I prepare little games for my sessions with the younger students but often the teachers give me some speaking tasks for them.  It’s exciting how with each group the games and tasks work out very different.

Intense Schedule and Multilingual Chats

A school day can be intense, since I have several meetings and practicing times in classes. Also, the time table switches for week A and week B, so I check my schedule constantly when I am at work in order to be punctual.  Usually, I am at school at nine o’clock. That’s when the students meet their form teachers in order to register them. My work starts at half past nine and all the students were upset when I told them that school in Germany starts at eight! But don’t get the wrong picture: the teachers at my school are there earlier to prepare for work.

I experience the staff as welcoming and helpful.  Many of the language teachers are native speakers of the language they teach and if not, they still like to communicate in other languages. It’s not unusual for teachers to chat in French, Spanish or German. So within  three month of internship  I might not only improve my English!

Ending my first entry…

I experience school in England as very different from my experiences in Germany. Also in my free time I experience unfamiliarity, which really excites me and feels strange at the same time. In my next entry you’ll be hearing more about teaching and learning German in a public school in England. And maybe other curiosities will come across that I will share with you.


Goodbye for now and you’ll surely be hearing more from Woodbridge soon!


The beautiful cathedral of Norwich        Container ships at the Port of Felixstowe - on eof the most important ports in the UK

The beautiful cathedral of Norwich         Huge container ships at the port of Felixstowe – the                                                                                  UK’s busiest container port


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