When universities and schools were forced to close during the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, Maeva Coffin reacted fast. She has developed a simple, yet efficient format that allows students and pupils to continue practicing their foreign language skills.
The young Frenchwoman is 23 years old and a member of the student council of Eucor – The European Campus representing the Université de Haute-Alsace. She lives in Mulhouse and is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Education. “When I observed the level of enthusiasm for cross-border solidarity during the crisis, I thought to myself ‘With the resources and contacts the Eucor Student Council has, we can do something too’.”
With the intention of helping quickly and unbureaucratically, she suggested that the Eucor student council offer language tutoring. The council immediately provided a positive response. The idea was to put French and German/Swiss students in contact with pupils so that they could form tandem pairs and help each other improve their language skills. An online form with various indicators, such as language level, was quickly created. Maeva Coffin’s role is to check who could form a tandem while bringing the people together. She suggests methods and platforms for exchange, but leaves those interested to freely choose how they would like to proceed in order to help each other.
The project didn’t require much advertising. Maeva Coffin announced the language tutoring on social media and got a positive response. “But after a while we saw that there were many more French-speaking than German-speaking people interested. It became difficult to form tandems.” To promote the initiative again in Germany and Switzerland, she wrote to the Instituts français in Germany and contacted various people from Eucor – The European Campus directly.
Most of the participants use WhatsApp to chat, make phone calls or conduct video calls. Ceylane Idiri, a student from Mulhouse, used the language tutoring and got along really well with her tandem partner. “I liked the concept because I could help my partner in French and she could help me in German. If you have difficulties with the foreign language, the format can really help as a supplement.”
230 students and pupils are currently using the language tutoring program. Along with participants from Metz and Saarbrücken, the project has already moved beyond the Upper Rhine region. “Even if the crisis is no longer at its most critical point, the language tutoring provided by the Student Council of Eucor – The European Campus will continue. Perhaps further ideas will arise thanks to the mutual language tutoring program,” says Maeva Coffin hopefully.