Midlands German Network launched at Aston

The Midlands German Network was officially launched on January 21, 2015, at Aston University. Aston is one of six universities in the Midlands who joined up in the Network to build and deepen links between local schools, universities and employers. MGN also works with a range of partners from industry and academia in order to promote interest in German language learning and culture.

The launch event was attended by around 120 visitors representing local schools, the Network universities and other stakeholders. They were welcomed by Prof Simon Green, Executive Dean of Aston’s School of Languages and Social Sciences, and Network Director Dr Stefan Manz who officially launched the MGN website. At the following panel discussion with representatives from Network partners such as the German Embassy, UK German Connection, the Goethe Institute, DAAD, UK Trade&Investment, Routes into Languages and the German Honorary Consul for the Midlands, each partner briefly presented explained how they are promoting German and afterwards, the panel members answered questions prepared by students from local schools. The event finished with an interactive introduction to the activities of the Arsenal Double Club, a joint project by UK German Connection and the Goethe Institute.

The launch event also provided the perfect opportunity to thank the sponsors of the Midlands German Network for their support. The website was created with seed funding from the German Embassy, and our corporate partner E.ON, as well as the Institute for German Studies (IGS) at the University of Birmingham and Routes into Languages provided funding for the launch and the Network in general.

For more information about the Midlands German Network, please go to the website at: www.midlandsgermannetwork.org.uk.

Aston visits Wolverhampton Grammar

Last week, our Head of German Studies, Dr Stefan Manz, paid a visit to Wolverhampton Grammar School to talk to their Year 10 students taking GCSE German about the many advantages of studying a foreign language, especially with regard to career prospects.

This was the first in a series of school visits the German group is planning to various schools in the region to inspire MFL students to take their language study to A-level and – hopefully! – beyond.

Successful Visit to Solihull School

Dr Uwe Schütte, Head of German at Aston, recently paid a visit to Solihull School.

He taught a revision class to the Upper Sixth German Class on the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which students and staff found “excellent” and “highly stimulating“. Due to the success of the event, which was very inspiring for everybody who attended, further visits to Solihull School are planned. Outreach activities like cultural days, taster sessions, master classes and school visits are part of the German section’s ongoing commitment to introduce the benefits of language learning and of enrolling for a degree at Aston to pupils in and around Birmingham.

Aston Students Run Language & Culture Twilight Sessions at Local College

The project

From January 2012 Aston students have offered extra-curricular language and culture sessions to the students of Joseph Chamberlain College in Balsall Heath.

The project is run by Routes into Languages, a publicly funded initiative to promote and encourage language learning. Aston is proud to say that we have been leading the West Midlands Consortium of Routes since the programme was launched in 2006.

Preparations for the project started in 2011 and weekly Wednesday afternoon sessions are now taught until June this year.

Joseph Chamberlain College (JCC)

Situated in close proximity of Birmingham city centre, JCC teaches many students who are high-performing, and a significant number go on to undergraduate study. However, the student population at JCC largely comes from disadvantaged ethnic minority backgrounds and have normally not previously been able to engage in language learning, either at school or at JCC, where French A level was recently introduced and is the only language on offer at this level.

JCC staff are keen for their students to broaden their horizons through these extra-curricular language and culture activities and they welcome the initiative and the enthusiasm shown by Aston students involved in the project.

Benefits of the project

The project allows Aston to engage successfully with the local community. At the same time it helps to raise the profile of language learning and it offers our students the valuable opportunity to gain work experience and enhance their employability. This is particularly relevant for future teachers.


Reactions have been extremely positive on both sides. JCC’s principal Elly Tobyn hugely appreciates the time and effort that Aston students are putting into this and the students-cum-teachers are thrilled to have been given a very warm welcome by pupils who are eager to learn – even outside of normal classroom hours.

Student testimonials

The main reason I decided to get involved in the project was because I want to go into teaching – I’ve since received an offer for my teacher training. Having mainly taught at primary level, I was really intrigued to get some experience with an older age group. We were all quite apprehensive at first, but as soon as we arrived at JCC we were welcomed warmly and the students are fantastic. They’re really enthusiastic, not just about the language but about the German culture so it’s nice to be able to answer their questions using first-hand experience from the year abroad. The students are also really interested in University life and it’s lovely to give them an insight into studying at Aston – particularly languages.

Philippa, final year Translation Studies French/German

I saw this programme as a great opportunity to try and encourage young people to get involved in languages. The students at JCC have been incredibly enthusiastic and really want to learn more about Germany and its culture, as well as picking up a bit of vocab. This has been extremely helpful in confirming my plans to become a teacher and it’s been great to tell the students more about life at Aston, which I think they’ve also enjoyed. Anyone would benefit from taking part in this programme, not just those of us who want to go into teaching!

Adrienne, final year German & Psychology