Exchange programs without having to travel.


Students from Klasse 8 have video calls with students from German schools on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The new advancements in ICTs -information and communication and technologies -have shortened distances. At Deutsche Schule Medellín, for example, we have used them to foster cultural integration between Colombia and Germany. That is how our School becomes a bridge between two cultures and develops creative ways to teach German to our students. Thanks to our German department teachers and their five-year-long work, and thanks to their leader Lukas Franz, a German teacher at Deutsche Schule Medellín, it is possible to have an exchange program without having to travel. Students from Klasse 8 have the possibility to become members of this video call initiative as part of their ATL (free time activity, acronym in Spanish). Mister Franz explains that each participant gets assigned a partner in Germany to generate a conversation. “German students are learning Spanish, and Colombian students are learning German. For that reason, they speak German half of the time, and Spanish the other half”, Lukas explains.

During this exchange, they do not only practice German and Spanish, they also get to know the other culture: “we want them to talk about everyday life topics, we want them to know how their partners live in Germany, what they have in common and what makes them different”, Mister Franz says. This is also a possibility to connect with the language in a real environment. “One of the biggest motivations someone has when learning a language is to be in contact with the culture”. Using technology for this purpose is a great opportunity. In the past, this was done with physical letters that took too long to arrive, and then with emails that weren’t always very consistent. Now, with video calls, everything is easier and more immediate. With time, they can move on to communicating through written means.

The dynamic

According to teacher Franz, the students meet every week. Having a partner allows for a more fluent dialogue. “Talking to someone your age is very different from talking to a teacher”. The point is that they feel more comfortable with the language. “They are both in the same situation: learning a new language, German or Spanish. If I speak Spanish quickly, the other person will not understand and vice versa”. At the end, this is about empathy, and about understanding the needs of the other person. They introduce each other in the first class. They find out the other person’s interests, and things they have in common. Even though this was intended for two people at first, a lot of people signed up for this voluntary activity, so Deutsche Schule Medellín created groups. For example, sometimes two Colombian students and one German student participate in the same conversation. They can talk about different topics such as books, sports, gastronomy, and others. “The important thing is, they get to choose what they want to talk about”. The German participants are from Eisenhüttenstadt, a corporation that cooperates with Deutsche Schule Medellín since 2017 in initiatives like academic trips for Klasse 6 and 10. Other students are from a school in Düsseldorf.