German Immersion Weekend


Every two years, a select group of Niles North German students participate in a one-month exchange program with a partner school in Germany. In an effort to make such a learning experience available to a broader spectrum of students, the German program at North teamed up this year with the Waldsee Concordia Language Village to create a “German Immersion Weekend,” now slated to become a new annual event.

Although the Waldsee German language camp staff typically operates out of a camp in Minnesota, several instructors, in cooperation with German teachers from local suburban schools, hosted a weekend in early October for about 60 students at Covenant Harbor in Lake Geneva, Wisc. Upon entering the camp, students were instructed to leave their English belongings (books, music, movies) behind, assigned German names, and informed of the main unyielding rule: Students may only speak German. The scholars received three German meals for each day they spent in the village, consisting of traditional dishes such as hard rolls with various types of deli meat and cheeses for breakfast and Bratwurst with German potato salad or Schnitzel (a thin breaded pork dish) for dinner.

As senior Dan Chung explained, “The food was great and there were a lot of fun activities. The biggest advantage is that the language acquisition happens very quickly when you’re fully immersed in the language and culture.” Aside from the natural language acquisition from socialization with other students, the camp encouraged learning through singing, dancing, group games, and activities where students could choose to play various sports, learn games, or try out one of the more specialized activities, such as the nature tour led by Niles North German teacher Josef Neumayer. With regards to the programming of the event, Neuymayer commented, “It helps them see that learning and using German is useful and provides a real experience outside the walls of the classroom.”

The German program is planning similar events for out-of-class learning for the next school year, and as usual, the Concordia Language Village in Minnesota will be offering various camp sessions throughout the summer. As Neumayer explained, “Next year’s event will most likely take place in early October. We’re hoping to keep the bonfires, dances, sports and food from last year. The food was out of this world.”

German Immersion Weekend