Presentation College was delighted to welcome Mr. Robert Henneberg from the German Embassy to our school on Monday 13th September. Robert was welcomed by the Senior Management Team and Ms. Byrne, President of the GDI, who had organised the visit to Carlow. He presented Ms. Byrne with some wonderful resources for the school library and then met a group of Second Year students. They all introduced themselves in German and despite the masks, were able to understand Robert, who introduced himself, speaking in German. They showed him their dream house/room posters, which they had done as homework. Robert answered the varied questions they had in particular about language learning, and he explained that all languages have challenges –even English with its strange spellings and pronunciations - two/too/to through/rough/bough! All very confusing for a German. Why do we have a ‘W’ in the middle of the number two?
Following a quick photo Robert then met a group of Sixth Years. They were interested in how one gets fluent and job opportunities and discovered that there are many opportunities both in Germany and in Ireland for people with or without degrees who have German. They were encouraged to use their German at every opportunity and to keep practicing. It is better to speak and make mistakes than to not speak at all. The students were fascinated that Robert spoke Irish and that there is a network of Irish speakers in Berlin. There is also a very strong GAA club in Berlin as well as a German GAA team. Robert plays on both teams.
This was not news for the four classes of Transition Years who met Mr. Henneberg after he enjoyed lunch and a chat with German teachers Ms. Malone and Ms. Byrne. The Transition Years had all already watched a TG4 documentary in their Irish classes about the GAA and Irish speakers in Berlin. The two German classes and the two French classes were all very interested to hear that languages are indeed very valuable in life. Even where the language itself is not used, the transferrable skills are of value to employers. There are 100 million in Europe for whom German is their primary language, making it the most common native language in Europe. In the post Brexit Europe, English is no longer the main language in the European Parliament. Having only English while surrounded by groups speaking other languages is not ideal. Whether for travel, education, pleasure or employment, Mr. Henneberg assured all students that it will always be of value to work on one's language skills.
As the German National Holiday will be celebrated on October 3rd and the European Day of Languages is held at the end of this month (26th September), this was a wonderful opportunity for students to be reminded of the importance of language learning and the increased opportunities in life for those who speak several languages. We would like to thank the German Embassy for valuing the importance of the young learners of German and French by supporting them with the interesting and educational visit and the gift of books. We wish them all the very best as they prepare for the German Unity Day on October 3rd and the upcoming visit of the German President to Ireland.