Language skill earns Chilliwack student trip to Germany

Jordan Sheffield among top winners in prestigious contest open to German-speaking students

Sardis secondary student Jordan Sheffield has won a four-week trip to Germany for excellent proficiency in German.

Sardis secondary student Jordan Sheffield has won a four-week trip to Germany for excellent proficiency in German.

If you see Jordan Sheffield in the next few weeks, make sure to tell him herzlichen Glueckwuensch!

That would be congratulations in German, and the Grade 11 Sardis secondary student has earned it.

He is one of a select few students from around the world who have been invited to enjoy and explore Germany, based on their mastery of that country’s language. The German government’s ministry of education and cultural affairs runs a prestigious contest, which asks students to write an essay in German. Everyone around the world who chooses to write the test, does so on the same day. The competition is fierce and the prize of an educational trip to Germany is priceless. While the contest is open to all students from non-German speaking families, it’s not often that B.C. public school students win.

That trend could be changing. One of last year’s winners was from a Prince George public high school, and this year, Sheffield will join another student from Abbotsford. A recent change to the timing of the test has made it more possible for semestered schools to take part, opening the pool for all German-speaking students.

While the trip does include travel and sightseeing, it also includes class time and plenty of time for cultural exchange. All of the winners are divided into groups that consist of people from other participating countries. In Sheffield’s group of students, there are three Brazillians, two Columbians, two Swiss, two Russians and two Poles, along with him and another Canadian from Manitoba.

And one of the only things they’ll have in common is their shared knowledge of German. While they’re grouped together for much of the trip, the nine Canadians taking part will need to put together a cultural presentation for the others. And that presentation will be entirely in German.

Sheffield has learned the language relatively quickly, under the guidance of languages teacher John Warkentin-Scott. He only started learning German this school year, but he’s also tried his hand at Swedish and Turkish.

“I just really love languages,” Sheffield says. “And German is very set in its rules, and very good at making efficient words.”

His teacher said Sheffield is perfect for the trip, because he’s used to travel and eager to learn.

“He’s doing a good job and four weeks in Germany will be an amazing boost,” Warkentin-Scott said. “There’s nothing like it.”

Being fluent in a language can only come with chances for conversation, and there is plenty of chance for that in Warkentin-Scott’s classroom. The kids play German versions of board games, including Monopoly and Settlers of Cattan (which is originally from Germany.) Speaking English in those gaming sessions will cost you, but speaking another language such as French is more acceptable.

“We speak about 90 per cent German,” Sheffield said.

His conversation skills are likely to improve both speaking, and while reading and writing, thanks to technology. Many of the student winners in Sheffield’s group have already connected online.

“We’ve connected on Facebook, and that’s forced me to use my language skills more,” he said. “It’s the one common language between all the languages that we speak.”

Getting to know someone in a different country is a great way to keep up language skills, Warkentin-Scott added. Because even if you master a language, it takes work to keep the knowledge.

“If you stop using it, it’s like a muscle and it will atrophy,” he said. That’s not likely to happen to Sheffield this summer. As part of the trip, the students will attend classes there for three hours every day for the two of the weeks,

Beyond the fun and learning Sheffield will experience in Germany it could also turn into a fact-finding trip for when he eventually graduates from Sardis. He’s considering studying at university there, for “something in the sciences.”


Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read