There is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in the culture where it is spoken.
Over the years that Westminster has offered an exchange of pupils with schools in France, Spain, Germany, Chile and China we have not only seen new friendships formed and greater cultural awareness gained but also a higher standard of examination results. By visiting the native home of the language they are learning, and by engaging in genuine conversation with peers who speak it as a mother tongue, pupils are able to learn the colloquial and cultural nuances of a language in a very different way than they can in the classroom.
Our European exchanges are open to all pupils from Year 10 onwards, with pupils in Years 10 and 11 spending one week in the exchange country and pupils in the Sixth Form often staying for longer. The same is true of the pupils we receive and host at Westminster who come to us from a variety of schools in Germany, France and Spain. The Chinese exchange is only available to pupils in the Sixth Form; however, it is open to anyone who is interested, whether or not they are studying the Chinese language. These trips are centred around Beijing where our partner school, Beijing No. 1 School, is located, but we always include a visit to another city or province.
Our exchange programme is a huge success across all our language departments, contextualising pupils’ learning and boosting their confidence for upcoming exams. However, we are also pleased to see how these trips and exchanges aid pupils’ cultural and social awareness and contribute to their wider personal development.