Life as an English Language Assistant: Back to School

ImageI was pretty intrigued to start my first day at school and wasn’t sure what to expect. My previous and only other experience of the German school system was when I did my German Exchange way back in Year 9 and spent two weeks in Würzburg, Bavaria. All I can specifically remember were the ridiculously early mornings, the cramped journey to school on the bus and the prison like classrooms. Each and every Bundesland (State) in Germany has its own school system so I was interested to see how Nordrhein Westfalen’s would compare.

The first week at school is intended to be an observational week, where I get to see how the school day works, meet the different classes and different teachers and get slightly more accustomed with the way things work. Below is my timetable..


*Q2 = Year 13

Getting up at 6am and leaving for work at 7 in the rain was certainly a shock to the system. It definitely put those ‘early’ 9am at Uni into perspective! Hopefully with all the practice I’ll get this coming year, I will be prepared for my fourth year back in Southampton!

Anyway the early morning aside, things went off to a good start; I made my tram, which unlike British transport was actually on time and punctual, got to school early and even found the classroom I was meant to be in without getting lost in the huge building. My first lesson was year 6 History and a lesson on the Stone Age, which I surprisingly managed to understand. However, after the first period ended things went downhill. The class split up into smaller groups for their language classes and all went their separate ways, which would have been fine had I been given the room number for their French class. So, I quickly headed up to the staff room, checked the timetable and found where French was supposed to be. Crisis avoided, I thought. But no, because when I got to the classroom it was empty! After wandering the building for a good ten minutes listening out for any noises that vaguely resembled le langue française, I admitted defeat and headed back to sit in the staff room. Day 1 and I had already skived class.. oops! The rest of the day was fine and thankfully, I ran into no more problems.

By Day 2, and another early morning, I was starting to flag. It takes a great deal of concentration to follow a class and try to understand what is going on and by the end of the day I was pretty pleased to head back to my flat for a quiet afternoon. I have to admit I was looking forward to the next day when I would be in just English classes and wouldn’t have to work quite so hard to follow what was going on in the classroom.

So that brings us to today, Wednesday and finally, I was able to use my expert English skills 😉 During the first class I was interviewed by the pupils and was asked questions about different UK stereotypes such as “is it true that it rains every day in England”, then with the second class we sang If you’re happy and you know it several times and finally, with the Sixth form group I watched Slumdog Millionaire. Such a hard life..!