Languages Connect How-to-Manual-for-School-Exchanges - Flipbook - Page 6
When you have found a partner teacher and their management has agreed to a school
exchange, you can plan for the first year. You and your partner teacher will need to decide
on a time frame for the exchange, what year group is going to be involved, and to design
a programme in Ireland as well as a programme in the TL country. Once you know
which students are involved, they will have to be appropriately matched with exchange
partners, and then flights can be booked. As with any event, planning is essential.
It is useful to keep the following topics in mind while planning:
Ideally an exchange needs to be as affordable as possible. An effort should always be made
to keep costs to a minimum. It is important not to forget that if it takes place during TY, there
will be a lot of other outings, etc. and budgeting can be particularly challenging for parents.
Overall a school exchange should be far more cost effective than a school trip, as there is no
cost involved for accommodation and board. Some teachers suggest that students should
have a savings account devoted to the exchange. Others suggest plenty of advance notice
so that students can start saving up to a year beforehand, and that students should be
advised to get a weekend/summer job to pay for it themselves.
Some schools run school exchanges in 2nd year, some run them in 5th year, but a
considerable number run them in TY. Students have typically had a good three years of
learning the language, and should be mature enough to cope with being away from home.
TY is generally more flexible than other years, so an exchange fits in well. It is important to
match students with age appropriate exchange partners.
Exchanges work well where there is continuity because valuable contacts and experience
are gradually amassed.
Some teachers find Irish students are more confident if they have already met their
exchange partners. It is worth considering inviting your exchange partners over to Ireland
first, and then carry out the second half of the exchange a few months later.
Committed, hardworking teachers who can share the workload are essential. It takes time
and effort to run a successful school exchange, in general it is not a one year project, it is
something that is built up over time. Patience and persistence is needed, particularly in the
first few years. Teachers need to be willing to spend time abroad, but ideally the workload
should be shared by both the languages department, and nonlanguage teachers. A
wholeschool approach makes an exchange more manageable, and more likely to be
sustainable in to the future.
Good communication on an ongoing basis with your exchange partner is absolutely
essential, you need to find not just a suitable school, but an exchange partner that you
are comfortable working with. It is important to be as open, honest and committed as
possible. This applies to communication between the Irish school and the partner school,
as well as communication between the team members in the Irish school, and with school
management, students and parents.
How-to Manual for School Exchanges