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Meeting demand for foreign placements
Teachers of English benefit enormously from a stay abroad. In this way, they acquire valuable intercultural and linguistic skills. The Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz therefore gives a high priority to enhancing the international mobility of both faculty and students. However, although students who want to become teachers of English have a range of opportunities to go abroad, the demand from applicants, by far exceeds the supply of places available.
This is where the programme “GET across borders” comes in. It aims to help close the gap between the high demand for experience in a foreign country and the lack of places offered by state or private exchange services. “GET across borders” not only facilitates students' search for a school placement in an English-speaking country, but also enables a partially financed, professional, and high-quality stay abroad that is indispensable for students’ development as tolerant and enlightened global citizens.
GETs as "German ambassadors" in Scotland
German Educational Trainees (GETs) - as we call our German-speaking students of English as a teaching profession - are placed in state schools in Scotland for the duration of six months. They acquaint Scottish pupils with the German language. They also introduce them to German culture, history, and traditions. This experience helps prepare them for their future entry into the teaching profession.
At the same time, GETs act as temporary “GET across borders” in Scotland, an aspect of the programme they are introduced to from the start. This is especially significant as recent years have witnessed a severe decline of students and teachers of the German language in the UK. Consequently, German native speakers have an important role to play in helping prevent the teaching of German from being entirely abandoned. In this context, the six-month internship offered by “GET across borders” provides both German and Scottish policies for the teaching of modern languages with sustainable added value:
- As native speakers, GETs are especially qualified to assist pupils in the acquisition of idiomatic German, encourage and support their interest in German language and culture and thus enhance possibilities for meaningful exchange;
- GETs are also connected with students of German Studies (e.g. at the University of Edinburgh) for tandem learning. They also support the local DAAD lecturer in the preparation of theatre performances and other extracurricular activities;
- German schools which host former GETs as teachers, invariably profit from the linguistic, cultural and didactic skills they acquired during their internship abroad; and
- The development of personal contacts between GETs and Scottish schools can often lead to further German-Scottish partnerships.
Timing of programmes
Due to the modular structure of current teaching degree programmes in the various academic disciplines, students often find it difficult to put their plan for a stay abroad into practice.
GET across borders counteracts these difficulties by opening a “mobility window” at the beginning of every winter semester. Students begin their internships in September, which allows them to align school and university semester dates and enables them to complete a full one-semester stay abroad. After their winter semester placements, participants continue their regular studies at the beginning of the succeeding summer semester in April.
“GET across borders” significantly contributes to the reduction of social inequality in student mobility. Participants:
- Receive a payment of £350 pounds per month from Scottish councils and
- Have the opportunity to apply for support from the ERASMUS+ programme managed by the EU Service Point of the University of Mainz (equally comprising about £350 pounds per month).
Socially disadvantaged students therefore do not face financial barriers which might otherwise have prevented them from accessing the experience of an internship abroad. They no longer have to consider changing their study discipline for financial reasons.
This integration of mobility and inclusiveness in “GET across borders” led to its being awarded the prestigious “Committed to Uniqueness” award by the DAAD in 2015, which recognises exemplary projects offering incentives for students to spend part of their university studies abroad.
“GET across borders”, as a programme of exchange which builds bridges between Germany and Scotland, is particularly important at a time when there is uncertainty as to the future of exchange programmes between the UK and EU. The trainees perform a visible and practical role in maintaining cultural relations between Germany and Scotland.
Given this wider context, “GET across borders” cooperates as closely as possible with the Goethe Institute and the SCILT (Scotland’s National Centre for Languages) in Scotland.
Johannes Gutenberg University
The Johannes Gutenberg University values the continuation and enhancement of the relationship between Scotland and Germany. The process of faculty and student exchange enriches everyone involved, as does the development of research collaborations in diverse fields.
That is why we are committed to supporting the advancement of “GET across borders” as a key vehicle for the development of academic and practical links through the internationalisation of our teacher education.