Longdendale's Spanish exchange success

Longdendale High School took part in its fourth Spanish Exchange in May run by Claire Rogers, head of Modern and Foreign Languages. 

The school has a partnership with I.E.S Alhadra, which is a school located in sunny Almería, in the region of Andalucia. 

Before any of the students meet, they are matched with a Spanish partner which allows them to get to know each other over social media. 

A Year 9 student, Jarrod, commented that this part of the process made breaking the ice so much easier as he knew he already had things in common with his partner. 

Students met for the first time at Longdendale where after a quick welcome, students completed workshops in Music with Mr Marsh and Art with Miss Hamilton.

The Spanish teachers asked if this was a private school due to the number of keyboards that the music department has for its students! 

Following the workshop, everyone went for a game of bowling and the students were able to introduce the Spanish to the Great British tradition of a carvery at Ash Tree Farm. 

The students showed excellent hosting skills and ensured their partners had tried gravy and a Yorkshire pudding! 

Whilst the Spanish students were here, they visited the centre of Manchester, Liverpool and Castleton and our students were fantastic ambassadors for the school. 

A highlight of this part of the trip was family day. 

On this day, students and their families hosted their Spanish student for the day and they all planned some wonderful activities which really gave the Spaniards a taste of British culture! Tours of Old Trafford and the Etihad, games of cricket and football, afternoon tea and fish and chips, our families did an amazing job! 

The second part of the Spanish Exchange saw Longdendale board a plane to head to sunny Almería, accompanied by Miss Rogers, Miss Sally Hulston and Mr Daniel Staniforth. For many of the students, this was their first time travelling abroad and all students behaved wonderfully in the airport and enjoyed the excitement of taking off for the very first time!

Upon arrival everyone went straight to their accommodation, then after dropping bags off and a quick change, the group headed into the centre of town for some lunch. 

The students quickly immersed themselves in the Spanish culture and many went to a tapas restaurant to order some ‘mosto’ which is a grape juice, as this would then ensure they would get a free tapas dish. 

No menus were available in English, as the centre of Almería does not get many tourists, so students had no other option but to use the Spanish they had learnt in the classroom! 

The next day came the challenge of using public transport to get to the Spanish school, much to Miss Rogers and Miss Hulston’s delight, as transport is a popular topic for GCSE role plays! 

There was such a warm welcome at Alhadra as students who had previously taken part in the exchange prepared an ‘Andalucian breakfast’. 

This consisted of fresh tomato on toast with juice or milkshake. 

The tomato on toast had mixed reviews from students, however everyone had a piece and enjoyed mixing with their Spanish amigos. 

Students took part in a carousel of 10 activities from within the vocational side of Alhadra. 

This included hair and beauty, special effects make-up, child development, PE and sign language. Students really enjoyed this day and everyone really got involved with all tasks! 

They were rewarded by a huge tapas feast with their Spanish partners in a local restaurant. 

Whilst in Almería, the students visited Cabo de Gata, a region of natural award-winning beaches and Mini Hollywood which is where a number of famous films including Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia and the TV series Game of Thrones were filmed. 

Here students had a guided tour in Spanish of the zoo, watched two western cowboy shows and  were able to escape the desert heat in the pool. 

Family day was a highlight for a number of our students. 

Spanish families took the students to visit the centre of Almería with its beautiful Alcazaba were students learnt about the history of the Moors in Spain, they visited villages around Almería, went to local ‘fiestas’ and many did not stop eating throughout the whole day! 

Students came back at night buzzing with stories from their day with a Spanish family.

This experience provided students with the best opportunity to reinforce their studies in Spanish through the process of emersion learning. 

With the area not being touristic, students are surrounded by Spanish at all times. 

Many now feel that their confidence has improved and they understand much more Spanish and can now see how Spanish can further support their future career ideas and they wish to include travel in their future plans. 

The teachers received many compliments on the behaviour, maturity and quality of Spanish from our students and could not be more proud of all that they achieved during this fantastic experience.  

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