It is quite astounding to actually see how far these students come with regards to their English in only five years; much much further than English students come with most of their foreign languages (from my own experience), but from what I can see, most of the Year 11s (16-17 year-olds) in this school speak English almost fluently and can talk about and understand a range of topical subjects, whereas in England you can pretty much guarantee that unless you are extremely naturally talented at learning languages, or your parents come from another country, a language learned in school will be forgotten soon after leaving. And the reason for this: WE ARE ALWAYS TAUGHT IN ENGLISH. Even the 10-year-olds in Germany are immersed in English throughout their English lessons. They are constantly being spoken to by the teacher in the target language, and consequently pick it up much faster. My German lessons up until A-Level mostly consisted of being spoken to by my teacher in English, having German grammar explained in English, doing written exercises, and occasionally listening to a cassette tape of someone saying, "Hallo. Ich heisse Juergen". And I was not even exposed to a foreign language at school until I was 12. Terrible, some might say. Well, I would. Languages are essential, and our education system needs to start recognising that, before the whole of England succumbs to this terrible affliction that is monolingualism.
Aside from my school-life, I have been having a busy 'getting sorted' week; getting ready to move into my new Studentenwohnheim next week, opening a German bank account, and registering myself as a Bautzen resident. A word of warning to anybody wanting to live in Germany for over a month: make sure you go to the local Einwohnermeldeamt and REGISTER (abmelden). I never realised that in Germany every single person who moves to a new town has to register at the local office. Consequently got a serious ticking off from the (very grumpy) woman at the office because I made the mistake of telling her I lived in Bremen for three months in 2010. "Where are your papers", she asks. "Oh, I didn't know then that I had to register", I reply. Cue a stern talk and then half an hour of waiting around while she phones various people trying to find out what she should do. My advice would have been to accept that I have no papers for something I never did three years ago and move on, but I guess that's classic German bureaucracy for you.
So now, I must pack. It's the big move on Monday.