In December 2017, we took 38 students to Cologne overnight so they could experience Germany and practise their speaking skills in real life conversations.
On our way, we stopped in Belgium and were delighted by the snow. When we arrived in Cologne, we dropped off our things and started our tour of the city. We went to three Christmas markets; all of them had a range of food and drink that are traditional Christmas fare and included German sausages, Pfannkuchen and gingerbread.
In the first market, there was also a large ice-skating rink where we could watch people try their best. The second was called Markt der Engel (Market of Angels), where there were stars hanging from the trees and a merry-go-round, which the students enjoyed much more than we expected!
The last market was in the shadow of the great gothic Cathedral of Cologne, Germany’s most visited landmark. Construction began in 1248, but was not finally completed until 1880. The cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is enormous, with the largest façade of any church in the world, and made some of the largest Christmas trees we had ever seen look small.
Not only was the whole experience very festive, but our students had to find the courage to talk to German speakers in context and they acquitted themselves marvellously.