A day in the life of Julian Morgan

Commuting through forests, over rivers and across borders is a daily undertaking for this British teacher at a German school, who delights in languages and gets his ideas from a `tree of inspiration'

I can leave home a bit later than usual today as my Year 12 philosophy students are away on a school trip. I wonder, "Do they actually exist anyway?", as I drive to work through the forests of Alsace and over the Rhine.

This morning I am lucky for a second time because there is no queue on the bridge. Living in France and working in Germany is a constant reminder of why Europe's heartbeat matters so much - the region has been torn apart more than once in recent decades. And it is rarely traffic-free.

I arrive at the European School in Karlsruhe - where I am head of the English section and coordinator of classical languages - and go straight to the staffroom. There I meet a Dutch music teacher who is struggling to negotiate some extra rehearsal time for a violinist. Then I make my way upstairs to see my Latin beginners. They are very bright but a little eccentric; some of them claim to be able to see my so-called "tree of inspiration" from which, I have told them, I harvest the fruit of my lesson plans. It worries me because until now nobody has seen the tree except me.

They learn the endings of the first and second conjugation and we hold a competition to see who can recite them the fastest. I tell them that Latin is the most European of all their school subjects, as it underpins the majority of the languages they speak and the cultural heritage that they share. If such a thing as a typical student existed in this school, he or she would speak at least three languages fluently and come from a mixed-nationality background, so the relevance of learning Latin is not lost on them.

I wander back downstairs and along the corridor, past pupils speaking French, German, Dutch and Italian, along with English in a multitude of accents. This Babel-like situation extends to the staffroom and I engage in a short, multilingual conversation about harmonising the ICT syllabus across the three main languages.

Back upstairs, my European Baccalaureate (EB) students are struggling with an unseen translation in ancient Greek. Xenophon might have found it memorable but I don't think they will. As they work, I carry out a line-by-line analysis of An Inspector Calls, before going to meet the theatre studies students who will be performing the play later in the term. It is important for me to get the casting right, as the mark that they are given will count towards their final EB grade.

As a seconded teacher from England's Department for Education, I am very aware that the English section serves the European school by bringing British culture (and the language of Shakespeare) to Karlsruhe. We are highly regarded in the community - by students and parents alike - and we know just how lucky we are to enjoy this.

I drive home again through the woods, thinking how, not so many years ago, this part of France was not French and my neighbours at home had their lives torn apart by a lack of unity in Europe. That is what we are here to change.

Your day

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