Jay Herringer was looking for an alternative for French wanted to learn about a new culture when he decided to start taking German at school last year.
And the new language lessons are paying off for the Grade 10 Dover Bay Secondary School student. He’s won an all-expenses paid trip to Germany this summer after taking part in an annual competition hosted by the German consulate in Vancouver.
On the trip, Herringer, along with other international students, will spend two weeks visiting major cities and landmarks around Germany and then he will stay with a family for the remaining two weeks.
“I haven’t really done much travelling,” said Herringer. “I just kind of want to go and experience it. It will be a little confusing at first, but I think I’ll pick up on [the language] pretty quickly once I’m there.”
Herringer had never spoken a word of German before his Grade 9 class with teacher Mareile Hardy. But he picked up the basics fast – much faster than French, with which he struggled before switching to German.
“I guess I’m pretty good at it,” said Herringer. “It’s pretty similar to English in a lot of ways.”
Except that there are no exceptions like you find in the English language, he added. A rule is a rule, even if the way sentences are structured is a little different and takes some getting used to.
This will be the first of two trips Herringer will take to Germany over the next year.
Before he won the contest, he had already signed up for an exchange with a German family. In the fall, a German student will come to stay with him and he will reciprocate the visit next spring.
“I think it’s good to know a second language because you get a better understanding of your own language and a better understanding of other cultures,” said Herringer. “It makes you a more worldly person.”
Hardy said Herringer is the second student from Dover Bay to win the trip to Germany. Nathan Stefani won the contest in 2008.
About 150 students wrote the exam, she added.
“I’m really happy that Dover Bay has had two winners because it really is not an easy thing to do,” she said.