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Auslandspraktika in der beruflichen Bildung
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

As a certified Hessian Europe School the MESA is among others active in the areas of the inclusion of the European Dimension in teaching and learning as well as intercultural learning. In this overall context we organize work experience placements abroad. Thus they are one of the building blocks of our profile as a Europe School. Furthermore, work placements abroad are part of the curriculum provided by the Hessian Ministry of Education. They also meet the requirements of the job profiles of the learners involved in this project: Foreign language assistants and bespoke tailors work in internationally operating companies, social care assistants and students also need intercultural competencies as they will be working with an increasing number of clients with a migrant background. Finally, the shop assistants work in Alsfeld, a European Model Town, with lots of tourists from all over the world. The overall aim of this project is based in the development of personal competencies of the learners. Flexibility, initiative, resilience, cultural open-mindedness and a tolerance for ambiguity are being promoted. Also, promoting the foreign language competencies, especially listening and speaking skills, is essential. Foreign language assistants need skills in reading and writing as well. With regard to the vocational competencies, the placement functions as a link, i.e. a connecting activity between the first and the second course year. The learners apply what they have learned in school and thereby expand their skills and competencies through practical work in the placement companies. The political dimension of the project can be found in its close connection to the European labour market. It is an opportunity to experience European mobility. All in all 13 students are involved in this project. The average age is between 18-20 years. Most participants have left secondary school with a GCSE-school leaving certificate. All students complete their placements in companies, however, in each country we cooperate with local vocational colleges. It is their task to provide placement companies and host families, to organize induction courses (UK only) and, eventually, to act as contact persons for our students. A team of teachers who bear responsibility for the respective target groups supervise the project. The project management follows a proven and documented routine. Essential stepping stones are as follows: information, application and election of participants, foreign language, intercultural and organizational preparation, monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of results. The results are then used by second-year students for their own preparation. According to the overall aims of the project, its outcome and effect are expected in the promotion of intercultural capacity, self-confidence and resilience of the participants. Regarding the vocational competencies the full-time students will have applied their acquired theoretical knowledge in a practical environment. They learn to immerse quickly into a foreign business and social context and they will be able to make use of this experience in their professional career. Finally, with regard to foreign language learning we note that most students develop better listening skills. They are also able to improve their fluency. The certificate the students receive at the end of their placements (Europass Mobility, reference letter) is the immediate benefit the students gain from the project. It will certainly enhance their opportunities on the labour market. Furthermore, placements at an early age are formative for their later lives. The students may develop a positive attitude towards Europe in general and their host country in particular.

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