We started last year by establishing a pen pal programme in year 8. Students were exchanging letters but they also quickly communicated via email and facebook. Students in year 9 who had chosen to carry on with German were offered a place on the trip. In May, we finally went.
Every student was given an exchange partner, whose family became his/her guest family for the time of our stay. As the students had known each other for a while, they had an idea what to expect and apprehension was kept (fairly) low.In Germany, we were met with fantastic hospitality from the school as well as the guest families.
A welcoming party was held for us and the headteacher had prepared a speech in English. The students had a chance to have a chat and many felt at ease straight away. Over the course of the following week, we did a lot of excursions
together and the English students spent some time in school with their German partners, experiencing the daily routine of a German school.