How about an English Wednesday?

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by Lea Vaterlaus, Sarah Müller, Irina Müller, Mirjam Berger, 2Eb

Wednesday morning. 4th lesson: Green plants, a model of a human body’s insides and a cupboard full of microscopes. After a short break, our biology lesson starts with an introduction to our previous topic, the human circulatory system. Ms Bandi, our biology teacher, welcomes us with a smile and hands out a sheet about the human circulatory system, which is to be read as homework. After our experiments in the lab sessions a day before, where we learnt to distinguish between the heartbeats of fish and humans, it was now time to look at the human heart.

A handout illustrates the structure of the heart and contains certain important terms referring to this topic, such as „veins“, „arteries“, “diaphragm”, “oesophagus” – in every lesson it is a new adventure to match the biological terms with the corresponding parts. With the help of our biology book, which is complex but very well structured, we learn to understand more about blood circulation inside and outside the heart. A video animation, spoken in clear and slow American helps us memorise the terms. After this short input, we work together in pairs to discuss the tasks on the handout. Ms Bandi takes part in some of the conversations answering questions and helping out with additional information. Shortly afterwards the bell rings and we hurry out heading for lunch with a growling stomach. The biology lesson was really interesting, and we came across some quite unknown vocabulary; biology has its distinct terminology, which one sometimes has to look up to understand. Nevertheless we soon realized the connection to Latin and its great influence on English terminology. Anyway, the way to a person’s heart is still through the stomach.

After lunch the day proceeds with maths. The bell rings and our teacher, Ms Kowalska (commonly called Miss K), is waiting for everyone to get settled. She starts the lesson with a quick absence control and is positively surprised no one is missing today. Our current subjects are vectors and proofs and a test is to be written in two weeks. Miss K quickly summarizes the learning objectives and then goes on to exercises. While we are solving them, Ms Kowalska stops by and helps us when we are stuck. „Telephone George“, a small piggy bank which gets fed every time one of us forgets about our English class rule (namely to speak English and English only in her lessons) and starts talking German, accompanies us through all our maths lessons. We have to admit that “Telephone George“ does get fed from time to time.

After our immersion lessons, we are often in a kind of „English flow“ and we keep on speaking English even after school, sometimes without even noticing. This is one of several very beneficial results: English has become natural to us, we are just used to it. This happened step by step after we had started our immersion courses. The history lessons, which do not take place on Wednesdays, include a lot of reading of original texts and sources and probably improve our English reading skills most.

Learning for an exam in an immersion subject on the train or the tram may often cause confusion among other travellers. Our constant switching between German and English words makes other people obviously curious: They strain their ears and sometimes even smile. Watching videos and TV shows or reading books in English has become a more natural thing than ever. We have always been very fond of English as a language therefore our choice to register for the immersion class was a logical consequence. Still, in the beginning everybody was afraid that it would be very difficult and challenging to have lessons in English and especially to write tests and papers in English. Nevertheless looking back we are very happy and feel confirmed that we were right to have the courage to try it. Without great effort we are improving our English day by day. So we really do recommend the immersion programme of the Gymnasium Muttenz and are grateful to have the chance to participate in it.