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The role of mobility

Mobility plays an important role in cross-border vocational (language) education.

Example: Cross-border mobility in the Greater Region

click here

Let’s take the Greater Region as an example: There are approximately 258.000 cross-border commuters – that’s the highest number of cross-border commuters in the European Union and numbers are growing! Cross-border commuter mobility affects all flows of incoming and outgoing commuters in the sub-regions of the Greater Region. In the following graph, you can see from which countries and regions the commuters go to work.

Click to enlarge

Source: https://www.granderegion.net/en/The-Greater-Region-at-a-Glance with addition of region and country designation

Within such regions like the Greater Region, ambitions and initiatives for fostering mobility exist as it is stated on the website of the Greater Region:

Read more

(1) What about your border region? Find out how many cross-border commuters there are.

(2) If you also live and work in different regions/countries: Think about the role of mobility. Is it easy? Which transportation do you use? Do you need a car or can you commute with public transportation? And what about the costs?

(3) Take a look at each border region of the FRONTEM-project. Does your border region and one of the represented ones have similarities? If yes, which ones? If no, how would you characterize your border region and its mobility possibilities?

Task (3) can also be done in group work in class: Divide your class in 5 groups, each group takes a look at one of the FRONTEM-border regions and makes notes of the most important facts. In a next step, each group shares their findings in class. A final discussion leads to your border region characteristics and the role of mobility.

(4) Check the interactive mental maps of the FRONTEM-project. Make focus groups by your own and create a mental map of your border region. What can you learn from it? Are there differences in perception? What does this mean for your vocational context?

  • Learn more about cross-border mobility and its importance for living and working in a border region/
  • Reflect on the role of cross-border mobility before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. What can we learn from it?
  • Get to know exemplary projects that support cross-border mobility.

Let’s look back: Cross-border commuting during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic affected cross-border mobility tremendously. Border closures did not allow people to cross borders to get to work or they had long waiting times at the borders to get their work proof checked to be allowed to enter. Even small roads were affected as shown in this photo, which was taken in the Greater Region:

Source: https://www.europa-union.de/ueber-uns/meldungen/aktuelles/grenzen-auf-zum-departement-moselle-und-zu-luxemburg 

In these times, a new appreciation of ‘open borders’ developed and the otherwise taken for granted easy and fast cross-border commuting was valued more. This also refers to neighbour contact: Just saying hello to the neighbour next door, but in another country or region, was not possible anymore. This feeling of neighbour connection, courage and solidarity increased the appreciation and esteem of living and working in some border regions. 

If you want to read more about this topic, we suggest the following references for the Greater Region. The findings can be transferred to other border regions, that’s your turn.

(1) How was the situation in your border regions? How did border closures affect your (professional) life? How did you handle the situation?

(2) Did you also take a photo as the one above that captures a situation that you connect with the Covid-19 pandemic?

(3) Think of one positive example of cross-border solidarity and describe it in a few sentences. It may be a situation at work, with neighbours, in a neighbouring city. How do you feel when you think about this situation? Did your relation to the neighbour country/region and cross-border mobility change?

Some examples for projects that support cross-border mobility

(1) The ‘Grenzgänger’-Project

One example for a successful initiative within this field is the ‘Grenzgänger-Projekt’, which was initiated and implemented by the Goethe Institute Nancy in 2015, also with the support of the German Foreign Office. It is directed to German teachers and their learners in France and aims at promoting cross-border mobility of young people from all educational sectors, with particular emphasis on vocational training.

The ‘Grenzgänger-Projekt’ pursues the following objectives:

  • Supporting German teachers in their tasks
  • Motivating young people to consider and implement transnational mobility
  • Contributing to the networking process of various players in the domain of vocational education and training
  • Increasing the visibility of the vocational education and training system

The following outputs, among others, are part of the project: They offer and support intercultural internships for young people in the Franco-German border region. Educational resources are developed, such as "Deutsch im Beruf – Praktikum in Deutschland" (equivalent to: "German at the workplace - internship in Germany"). Teachers can attend workshops – live and online.

As you can see, the ‘Grenzgänger-Projekt’ offers many possibilities to make cross-border mobility easier – for teachers and learners.

For more information check: (in the website section about the Greater Region, we also have a sheet about the Grenzgänger-Projekt, please hyperlink this here) or https://www.goethe.de/ins/fr/de/spr/eng/grg.html (available in German and French)

(2) ProTandem 

Another initiative in the German-French border region is ‘ProTandem – Deutsch-Französische Agentur für den Austausch in der beruflichen Bildung’ (German-French agency for exchange in vocational training; website available in German and French). Since 1980, ProTandem promotes exchanges for young people and adolescents in vocational training in the German-French border region with about 3000 participants in over 50 professional groups every year. ProTandem fosters group exchanges within trainees of all ages, adolescents and teachers and offers tandem language courses. Further, mobility plays an important role and financing it. In this context, ProTandem provides – besides organizational support – also financial support to make internships and exchanges possible.

Do similar or equivalent projects for young adults and teachers in cross-border vocational training exist in your border region? Can you and your students profit from the outcomes? Which kind of mobility support is offered? Take some notes.

Take away

  • Mobility is an essential factor in cross-border working environments and cross-border vocational (language) education.
  • Cross-border commuting is normal in many border regions. The Covid-19 pandemic has influenced cross-border mobility and the perspective on it.
  • Different initiatives and programs to (financially) support exchange and internships exist – search them and profit from them!