Diverbo – Laubach, Germany

Diverbo – Laubach, Germany

Diverbo is an English Language Immersion Program that operates in Spain and Germany that offers volunteer experiences for native English speakers.

We came across Diverbo when searching for volunteering projects for Spain and when we saw that they offered the program in Germany thought it would make for a great expansion of our European adventure. They offer the courses out of Munich and Frankfurt. We applied for the April course and were accepted.

The first evening of the program we met our MC and Coordinator and the other volunteers and began to get to know each other over a meal and on the Sunday morning we boarded the bus to Laubach, and were joined by two students (the rest were making their own way to the hotel) thus beginning the week of immersion English.

The hotel is located around an hour and a half from Frankfurt, nestled in some beautiful countryside. The first afternoon was to get settled in and familiarise ourselves with the hotel before the program officially started. The day was sunny and pleasant so many of us spent time sitting in the courtyard and getting to know each other. The initial conversations were the standard who we are, where are you from, but also provided a little reassurance to the more nervous of the students. Our group consisted of 16 Anglos & 16 students. The Anglos came from Canada, USA, UK, and Australia, and were from a variety of ages, backgrounds, and accents. The students also presented a variety of accents from across Germany (reinforcing that there is no homogenous accent for any language) ages and backgrounds.

Diverbo – Laubach, GermanyDiverbo – Laubach, Germany

The thing with programs like this is that few actually understand the intensity of learning that is coming, or how much they will improve their English and confidence in speaking. It is a perfectly natural fear of the unknown that must be embraced and exploited to gain the best of the experience.

The program consists of a series of 1-to-1 conversations including a telephone call, a conference call, group activities, theatre performances, 2-to-2 conversations, as well as shared meals. Each 50 minute session is also provided a phrasal verb and an idiom for discussion, some of which prove to be very humorous. It also included a short tour of Laubach in English, providing some local sights and history.

The 1-to-1 conversations provide an excellent opportunity for the students to engage an individual in dialogue where they have a good amount of control, being able to influence the conversation to keep it in boundaries they are comfortable with as well as allowing for the gradual expansion of those boundaries.

The telephone call is another technique that expands the boundaries further by removing the visual language of conversation, increasing the difficulty (especially with some of the harder accents). We were provided booklets that contained a variety of discussion topics and suggested discussion points, or we could come up with our own.

The 2-to-2 conversations were an interesting aside and presented a different challenge to the 1-to-1’s. We were divided into groups and given a list of topics we could discuss. Initially we spoke of the topics trying to find a mutually desirable one before diving into the conversation itself. In my group, we ended up choosing a topic regarding the colonisation of Mars and I ended up playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ by taking the alternate view from the group and it became a 2.5-to-1.5. This conversation became very heated quickly as it tapped into the each individuals passion for social justice (our mutual belief) and involved questions of economy, technology, and appropriate investment of resources to solve the issues of the human race.

The conference call were from booklets provided to us that contained a variety of discussion topics and suggested discussion points. I chose a topic regarding providing a grant of 1 million Euros to a town council for the purposes of promoting tourism, allowing the students to use their knowledge of their home towns to engage them in a game of one-upmanship which made for a great conference call. Throughout the call, I made notes regarding the information provided to give feedback at the end. Another Anglo was also in the room with the students doing the same to allow for two sets of constructive criticism and opinion.

The group activities, meals and theatre performances were a fun way of allowing us to mix and frequently change social dynamics, ensuring we kept to the edges of our comfort zones (which were always shifting) as well as keeping us from forming cliques. One of my favourite of these was when we were divided into groups and asked to prepare a song about the program and learning English. Our group came up with a variation of ‘Singing in the Rain’ called ‘English on the Brain’. It was fun to prepare and perform to the group, our lyrics went like this:

No English in my brain
I’m going insane
Surrounded by Anglos
Who don’t sound the same.
They’re speaking to fast
I don’t think I’ll last.
I’m thinking of throwing in the towel.
Some English in my brain
A 1-to-1 again
Learning phrasal verbs and idioms
It makes my head pain.
Kill two birds with one stone
Conference call on the phone
And this theatre thing, is not my cup of tea.
Only English in my brain
This language is my main
But I have a small problem
I’m leaving today
So many new friends
Don’t want this to end
We’ll keep in touch with English in our brains.

Over the course of the week I made some very good friends, a couple of whom I have seen since, and had a rich and rewarding experience. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to experience language learning, challenge themselves, or make friends in a new country.


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