Ziher - that certainly is Zagotovo

Exploring another language is usually a very interesting task, even more so when the language contains so many words derived from your mother tongue!

Pupils from the Sprachenhauptschule Birkfeld I - a secondary lower school in the Austrian province of Styria - were very surprised to find so many familiar expressions in a text that their Slovenian colleagues had prepared when they visited the school in Maribor. What now is the republic of Slovenia used to be Austrian territory until the end of World War I. Therefore quite a number of Germanisms can still be found in the everyday language. Even the Slovenes were surprised that some expressions were of German origin.

It was not only this that made the visit to Maribor such a success. Besides a taster lesson in Slovene - designed as peer-learning in small groups - the intercultural aspect, the European dimension and multilingualism were the main issues of the project called "Tandem A-SLO".

Before the actual visit, teachers and pupils had exchanged letters to plan their day out. On arrival all visitors were provided with a very useful name tag not only to identify the person but also to keep track of the programme.

The welcome session took place in the theatre where 2 students introduced their school, as well as their hometown, in a very special way - a perfect mix of video and live sketches. After the speeches from the two head teachers and the exchanging of presents, traditional Austrian folk songs and dances were presented. The Austrian girls even decided to wear the traditional "Dirndl", quite brave for 14 year olds who would normally never wear that stuff to impress 15 year old boys. A final folk dance by the Slovenes broke the ice, when girls "made" all the teachers join in their dance.

In that very relaxed atmosphere language learning in tandems - hence the title of the project - was good fun although not always easy. In no time at all new friendships elapsed and liaisons were formed.  With the help of a handout providing expressions in German and Slovene the pupils managed to fill in a gapped text.

Meanwhile the head teachers met to reflect about the project, to discuss educational issues and future collaboration.

After lunch, at a pizzeria, the Slovenian partners arranged guided tours of Maribor in either English or German. In small groups the Austrians and their hosts went on that sightseeing tour before they were allowed to spend some time on their own within the pedestrian area. As intended the pupils stayed together and got to know each other more closely while the teachers enjoyed a nice cup of coffee in one of the inner city cafeterias.

When it was time to say good bye, lots of pupils on both sides had tears in their eyes.  The overwhelming hospitality of our hosts must be mentioned. They did their best to make that day unforgettable with the understanding that contacts will be prolonged, not only those assisted by the schools.
Wolfgang Pojer

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