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A New Experience for Foreign Teachers - posted February 7th, 2008

The foreign teachers with children from Hethersett Junior School on the left. They are pictured on the right in the school's language corner. They are (left to right) - Susanne Haehnel, Gloria Espinilla, Gulien Boughezal, Sebastien Verlynde and Anna Schmidt.


A variety of different languages have echoed around the corridors of Hethersett Junior School over the past month thanks to a working visit of teachers from Spain, Germany and France. 

The visit is part of a special University of East Anglia programme that places trainee teachers from the three countries in local schools. 

During their stay the quintet helped pupils to improve their language skills, learned more about the British teaching system and schools and took part in a special International Day where classrooms were decked out in the colours of the various countries. The teachers also put on a version of Little Red Riding Hood using the English, French, German and Spanish languages. 

Sebastien Verlynde and Gulien Boughezal come from Lille in France, Anna Schmidt and Susanne Haehnel come from Dresden in Germany and Gloria Espinilla from Juen in Andalucia, Spain. 

The group agreed that their stay in Norfolk had been very worthwhile as they compared differences between the British systems and those of their own country. It also helped them improve their already very good English skills. 

Differences included the times of the school day (France continues until 5 p.m but has a long two hour lunch break whereas German schools finish between midday and 1 p.m), the role of the Head Teacher (much more of a management position in England), the role of teaching assistants (these do not exist in the other countries) and the greater use of technology and interactive mediums in England. They were also impressed by the amount of respect given to the children, the calmness of the teachers and the teaching of “positive behaviour.” 

The group, who have been staying in local homes, also enjoyed the Norfolk countryside and visiting restaurants and public houses. They are part of an exchange programme between the UEA and student teacher training programmes in Germany, France and Spain with the aim of giving them an insight into British teaching methods and also British culture. In return Post Graduate Certificate in Education students from the UEA spend time abroad. 

Hethersett Junior School Head Teacher Andy Whittle praised the contribution of the five foreign student teachers: “We have been delighted with the impact our five students have had. As well as raising the profile of their own languages and taking German, Spanish and French lessons they have been able to teach children about the culture of their own countries. The children have had the benefit of hearing authentic speakers of the languages they are learning which is invaluable. Our European Day has stimulated all the children to discover more about the languages and cultures of other countries. We will miss the students and look forward to another group next year,”  he said.