Department of European Languages and Cultures

Karneval! German students share carnival culture with local primary school

Students Annabel, Jasmine and Lia tell us about their virtual Karneval workshop with Craigentinny Primary School.

Photo of a carnival parade
Karneval parade in Düsseldorf. Photo by Mohammed Alorabi on Unsplash.

Through an ambassador programme, language students at the University of Edinburgh are encouraged and supported to share their experiences with younger learners in local schools.

When the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person activity, three students of German took their Karneval workshop online, working together remotely to plan and run an interactive session that introduced a class of Primary 6 students (aged 9-11) from Craigentinny in Edinburgh to carnival culture.

While working on the project, Jasmine was a third year German and Linguistics student on her Year Abroad in Tübingen, Lia - who studies Law and German - was in Vienna, and Annabel, who is studying German as a single honours degree, was in Edinburgh.

The workshop started with a little German language learning, after which the students demonstrated how to make Berliner Ballen doughnuts and plaited Stritzel bread. They then talked about carnival mask traditions and provided a template and creative ideas for mask making.

Experiencing German in a new way

Photo of a student at Lichtenstein Castle
Jasmine worked on the project while on her Year Abroad in Germany

Asked why they got involved and what they gained from the project, which is added to their student record, the students spoke of being able to “experience German in a new way” and, in doing so, of sharing the younger learners’ sense of discovery.

Lia said “Often, we get caught up in our day-to-day studies and submitting assignments, so much so that we forget to recognise how lucky we are to have this opportunity, and how excited we felt when first starting to learn the language. In seeing the enthusiasm radiating from the students, I was able to regain this feeling.”

For Jasmine, “the project gave me an opportunity to give back to others and share my enthusiasm for German. It meant that I could be involved in an activity that was different to theory-based learning or my Year Abroad and brought me closer to home to help inspire others to learn languages.”

“It took me back to the moments that first motivated me to learn German and made me realise that I could make a difference and now be the one to spark this interest in others. I also met my professor and peers in a different context, gaining advice on how to lead activities.”

A big confidence builder

Photo of homemade Berliner Ballen doughnuts
Berliner Ballen doughnuts baked by Lia's grandmother

While the students were guided by Annette Gotzkes, outgoing Director of Outreach and Widening Participation in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), it was their responsibility to devise and deliver the workshop, choosing what activities might work best to engage younger learners.

Talking about skills she’s gained for the future, Annabel said “The experience gave me an insight into the world of teaching, not only how teachers go about planning and delivering lessons in languages, but also how important a positive, encouraging and motivating school environment is for students at a young age.”

“The workshop was a big confidence builder. I could see students uplifted by the reassurance they were given about their potential to reach university and realise now how important it is to not only teach students testable knowledge, but also to care pastorally in every class and prepare them for their future.”

Reflecting on what she enjoyed most about the experience, Lia similarly spoke of “connecting with the students and being able to praise them. They were extremely quick to catch on, and had many interesting questions! I also enjoyed the coordinator of the lesson as well. His enthusiasm and reassurances towards the students were really inspiring, and it made it even easier to be enthusiastic.”


Are you a language teacher seeking a student ambassador?

We work with primary and high schools to share our passion for languages with younger learners and spark their interest in higher education.

Email us about finding a language ambassador

Read our feature on inspiring high school learners

Are you interested in studying languages at LLC?

We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university, including all six official languages of the United Nations, and eight of the languages of the European Union. We also offer an extensive range of joint degrees, for example, two languages, or a language with Law, Linguistics and more. Opportunities to build professional skills include the ambassador programme which involves outreach with schools and communities.

Find out more about undergraduate study at LLC

Related links

Alumni and futures - what previous students are doing with their degrees

Edinburgh Local - find out more about the University's work with schools and communities