Caister Academy German Day @ UEA

On 26 April 43 pupils and three staff from Caister Academy visited the University of East Anglia for an exclusive German Day and UEA Campus Experience.  

The group of Year 9 and 10 German students were greeted in the Thomas Paine Lecture Theatre by UEA Think German Network coordinator Bettina Pfeiffer, who congratulated the students on their German language skills as these would set them apart from many other applicants in the future world of work.

The first talk on ‘Why Study Languages’ was held by UEA’s Dr Kim Ridealgh, lecturer in Sociolinguistics with a special research interest in Ancient Egyptian. The speaker focused particularly on the role of languages as an inter-cultural skill in a world that predominantly communicates in digital ways, alerting the audience to the threat of minor languages disappearing. A further focus was on the relevance of translation skills in the wider sense: The process of translating as an everyday activity was illustrated by an example of a short text-dialogue based solely on emojis that was then spontaneously and expertly translated by a Caister student. The intricacies of language and cultural translation was further explored when the audience was challenged to translate a Haiku poem from English into German.

For the next part of their German Day the group moved to a seminar room in the Elizabeth Fry building. They were greeted by Dr Fraser Macmillan from the School of Chemistry. In a very engaging presentation, the speaker told the young audience how being able to speak German and being exposed to German culture and history has been a constant motor in his chemistry career. More importantly though, Dr MacMillan emphasised the growing need for language skills in the context of scientific collaboration, making reference to a European research project he is currently overseeing entitled ‘Understanding Movement and Mechanism in Molecular Machines’, and involving almost 300 scientists from 28 countries in Europe (

Next on the programme was an interactive workshop on German pop music. UEA Think German Network coordinator Bettina Pfeiffer introduced the students to five very different artists from Germany and their music videos. Using their language skills, the students were encouraged to listen for specific words, match up sentences with sequences in a music video and give their opinion on individual tracks. When asked for their favourite artist of the day, the student’s voted overwhelmingly for German singer and rapper Namika and her song ‘Lieblingsmensch’ (

After a lunch break in the Julian Study Centre café, the visitors from Caister Academy were taken on a tour of the campus by Language Ambassadors Josh and Ines, stopping by at the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts and continuing along the walkway to give the young visitors a flavour of student life in the square.

The afternoon sessions were based in the UEA’s Enterprise Centre, the regional business hub and currently the UK’s greenest building. Alex Pickering from the Goethe Institut spoke passionately about the career benefits that German language and cultural skills bring to job seekers today, making frequent reference to the demands by business and industry in a post-Brext world.      

The second and final workshop of the day gave an introduction to the latest film by acclaimed German director Fatih Akin. ‘Tschick’ (2016) tells the story of two outsiders who experience a life-changing road trip together that catapults them into adulthood ( The students were given an insight into the worlds of the two main characters, teenagers Maik and Tschick, both from Berlin but from the opposite spectrum of society: Tschick from a poor district and born to Russian immigrants and Maik an emotionally neglected teenager from an upper middle-class background. The film is based on Wolfgang Herrndorf’s succeccful novel ‘Tschick’.

Thank you to all Caister Academy pupils and staff for their enthusiasm and willingness to engage on the day. It has been a pleasure to work with you!

A particular thank you also to all the speakers and our language ambassadors as well as the kind support of the Goethe Institut.

Should your school be interested in a similar German Day, please let us know. We will try and create tailor-made day events like the above one here at UEA and look forward to working with you.