Sprachen-Hauptschule Birkfeld

Our exchange day

On Monday, 8.5.2006, we had an exchange day with pupils from the Sprachen-Hauptschule Birkfeld in Austria. Our task was to do an interview with them and the analysis of the interview. The interview was about their past, everyday life (their private life, home life, nightlife), their plans and prospects on the future. As they were quite young, we did not get the answers we expected - their answers were rather »stingy«. On the other hand some answers were really interesting and surprising.

We also had a class on the Slovene language. Pupils did not have specific problems with pronunciation of words like smrt, cmrlj, etc., but they had some problems with the recognition of some Slovene dialectal words derived from German (flaša à die Flasche).

After the Slovene class we went for a snack and afterwards on some afternoon activities (summer slide, windmill and a solar house).

We had a great time in Birkfeld, but pupils must be older - if they were older, we would get more information about their way of life.

Slovenian students interviewing their Austrian counterparts

Knowing Slovenia

1. QUESTION: Do you know any Slovene celebrities?
The majority of pupils do not know any Slovene celebrities, some know Tina Maze and a few have heard about Melania Trump, as she is married to a millionaire Donald Trump.

2. QUESTION: Are you familiar with the problems of Slovene minorities?
90% answered that they know nothing about this problem, one of them even said that he/she does not know what Slovene minority is. A few heard something on the television, but they do not know exactly what it was about.

3. QUESTION: Have you ever been to Slovenia?
Half of the questioned have never been to Slovenia, and one fourth only drove through it. The others who came visited Ljubljana and Maribor only. They do not know any other towns or tourist attractions.

4. QUESTION: Do you learn about Slovenia in school?
25% do not know anything about us, because they have never learnt anything. The others know something about Yugoslavia or geography basics and that we are their neighbours. One student knew that Slovenia became independent in 1991.

To summarize: Students from Birkfeld know very little or nothing about Slovenes or Slovenia, despite the fact that we are their neighbours. They do not learn about the history or geography of Slovenia and are not familiar with problems between the two countries. We are disappointed with their knowledge and think that they should get more information about Slovenia in school.

1. Do you know any Slovene celebrities?

2. Are you familiar with the problems of Slovene minorities?

Lifestyle of Austrian pupils

We wanted to find out some things about where the Austrian pupils lived, how important the place of living was for them f and if the number of children per family was the same as around the Europe.

Concerning the place of living, we expected, as Birkfeld is quite small town that people will live in houses or on small farms. Our expectations were true, because all of them live in a house and they said that all their friends and relatives live in a house, too. 11 people have added how far/near the school they live and only 1 of them lives far from school, the others live in Birkfeld or in a village Haslau, which is 4 km from Birkfeld. We expected that more people will live outside the city, because the headmaster said to us that some students, who visit this school, have to wake up around 5 o"clock so that they can arrive to school on time.

We wanted to find out if material status is important for them. We assumed that the more the material status is important to them, the more details they will tell and give us about their house. At first three speakers gave us detailed information about their houses. The first speaker said that he lived in a very big house with big windows and big doors and that their house was divided into two parts. We assume that for this person material things are quite important. The other speaker told us less, but it seemed, that for him a homely and comfortable house is of great importance, even if it is smaller. The third speaker likes his house, even though he thinks that it is nothing special, but it is near the road. The rest of the questioned did not tell much about their houses, some of them just said that they were big (all speakers said that) and what colours they were (yellow, white). Because of this information we think that the size of the house is quite important for people in Birkfeld and that the appearance is very important. Almost half of them added that they have some land around the house; they have plants, grass, gardens or even forests around their houses. Therefore we assume that that the appearance plays an important role and we got the impression that nature is quite important for them, eventually we expected that, because they live in a quite small settlement which is surrounded by nature and hills.

As to the size of their families we wanted to find out if they have big families or not and how big an average family in Birkfeld was. All of them have at least one sibling; more of them have a brother. There are quite a lot of families with 3 children (80 % of them), in one family there were 5 children and one speaker told us that the only people she knows with more than 3 children are her neighbours, who have 5 children. From the declining birth rates in Austria we expected that there will be no big families. And because of that, we can say that we were a bit surprised when we heard that there were families with 3 children and sometimes with more than 3 children, too.

To sum up we think that the way of living of Austrians is very similar to ours and that there are no such big differences between the two countries.

Pocket money

Austrian pupils all get pocket money, and they feel happy about it. The amount is from 7 - 40€ per month. The average is 16 €. With the exception of one they all think it is enough.
Most of them spend it on sweets, CDs, drinks, clothes, food, etc. Some (3) are saving it for a motorbike and has a bank deposit.


The results about the pupils" nightlife were predictable because of their age. In Austria it is illegal for teenagers under 16 to get alcohol, so our prediction was that they do not get anything to drink in pubs.

Half of the students do not go out because they consider themselves too young or their parents do not allow them. The other half said that they are allowed to stay out and hang out with friends. If they go out, they usually go to the cinema, disco or to a local pub. But they do not drink any alcohol because they are under 16. Almost all pupils can stay out until 11 o'clock. But we can find some exceptions, some can stay out until 2 a.m.

These results tell us that people in Austria obey the law (especially law concerning alcohol) more that people in Slovenia (in Slovenia teenagers under 18 can get alcohol quite easily). We can also see that they do not do illegal things when they are out or they just do not want to admit it. Now we can say a word about places they go to. They go out like we do, usually to the cinema, pubs or they just hang around in the city centre. Most of them said that they really like to go in their »famous« disco, which they praised so much and said that party starts after 11 o'clock (Please note their staying out time). Here we can see some big contrasts. In the end of our analyse we have to stress that answers from pupils were not so honest as we thought they were. Maybe because they do not want to talk about illegal things or they were just trying to look cool in front of us elders. But we still believe that they are just nice, hardworking, obedient and communicative Austrian teenagers.

Smoking and taking drugs

The questions about alcohol, cigarettes and drug problems in the area also met our expectations. As the interviewees were of age 14, we assumed that they do not drink nor smoke. On their school smoking is not aloud, so some pupils smoke only at weekends when they go out. Most of them do not smoke at all. In Austria alcohol is illegal for young people under 16 years, so we assumed pupils do not drink. Most of the pupils told us that they do not drink. Although there were some exceptions, some pupils do drink but only at weekends when they go out.

The next thing we were interested in were drug related problems. Most of the pupils were sure that there were no drug related problems in their area. Some of them, however, believed that marihuana represents a problem. We were satisfied when we realised that some pupils do know that alcohol and cigarettes are drugs and they said that this is a drug related problem in their area.

Regarding the situation in Slovenia we believe that they are more tolerant towards drugs, as we know alcohol and cigarettes are also a drug. If we made a research in Slovenia, we would find out a higher percentage of pupils who smoke and drink. But in this statement we have to look at the age and also the law, which is different in both countries. Our country has stricter laws that nobody obeys, but in Austria pupils can buy alcohol earlier so they do not hide at in a park at the age of 16. We think that this is a good solution to the problem, because there are less pupils who drink alcohol and those who can are more tolerant because they do not do anything illegal.

Future plans

We wanted to find out something about the future plans of the Austrian pupils, how they see life and which things are valuable to them. The most important things for the students are their family, friends and school. We could say that this is not surprising, as they are of great importance for almost every adolescent. As to the future plans, the most of them were speaking about a job and education, so we can conclude that in the future they want to get financial security or good education, which is characteristic of the modern European society.

Therefore most of them will continue with education; only some of them want to get a job and be a mechanic or a builder etc. We can conclude that the Austrian pupils share our expectations and plans for the future.

Tandem A-SLO (Project description)
Report about the exchange
Slovenia meets Austria
Austria meets Slovenia
Society and Culture (project description)
The Maltese contributions
The Spanish contributions
The Romanian contributions
The Croatian contribution
Malta meets Spain