Teaching English offers great opportunities to include active participation, real interactions and relevant activities.

Making a Difference

One person can make a difference? Really? My students didn't think that sounded right. They thought only big organizations with rich and influential people could make a difference or maybe no one could make a difference. So we looked at several people who did. And then we created our own projects and made a difference ...

Hachemer, Mareike. Making a Difference. Unterrichtsreihe zur Förderung von ehrenamtlichem Engagement im Englischunterricht einer gymnasialen Einführungsphase. München: Grin, 2014.


Jury of the German Teacher Prize (Deutscher Lehrerpreis):

MAKING A DIFFERENCE is an excellent teaching unit and was considered a strong candidate for the German Teacher Prize for innovative teaching. Our criteria for the award are student encouragement and involvement, interdisciplinary approaches, sustainability and transferability, compatibility with curricula, relevance for students' lives, different approaches to assessment and personal gain for students. 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE was marked "excellent" in almost all criteria. It is particularly outstanding with regards to transferability. 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE is also one of the projects featured in a publication, which features concepts which support active citizenship and promotion of democratic values:

Förderprogramm Demokratisch Handeln (Hrsg.): Gesagt. Getan. Ergebnisse der Ausschreibung 2014. Redaktion: Wolfgang Beutel, Arila Feurich, Susanne Haldrich. Jena: Verlag Förderverein Demokratisch Handeln, 2015.

The local newspaper: Connecting theory and deeds is a principle in the two classes who connected active participation and language learning. 14 to 16 year old students focused on discrimination, isolation and poverty. They helped the elderly, volunteered as football coaches for the young, offered free babysitting, or gave food to homeless people. 

Essay writing

Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five is an outstanding piece of literature which deals with a young soldier's life in the second world war and his perception of war. Therefore, it offers a great reason to analyze depictions of war in the novel and other media. With an approach that is based on collaborative and individual teaching methods and includes individual research, positive interdependence, individual assessment, equal participation and simultaneous activity as well as written instruction and personal support, students are guided to write their first university-style thesis. All of them exceeded the minimum amount of six pages (which they first thought was impossibly long) by far.

Hachemer, Mareike. Our First Scientific Essay - Analyzing Slaughterhouse-Five. Das Schreiben eines literaturwissenschaftlichen Essays. Analyse von Kurt Vonneguts Slaughterhouse-Five im Englisch-Unterricht der gymnasialen Oberstufe. UNICUM-Wissensreihe. Band 64. München: Grin, 2014.


Jury of German Teacher Prize (Deutscher Lehrerpreis): The students' essays show that they worked individually and approached the topic on various levels. They have learned how to research, structure, present, re-write and connect aspects and are therefore prepared for university. They are enabled to unmask war propaganda."


The best essay written in class was published and is available via amazon.

Learning Platforms

I like offering opportunities for students to study individually and at their own pace. A lot of students love audiovisual material but the abundance that is available on the internet often discourages or misleads them. Therefore, I collect appropriate material and provide it for them with instructions and ideas.


This is my website for my advanced English students in year 12 and 13: Advanced English

I was fortunate enough to teach bilingual geography in year 6. While there is a lot of material online it is sometimes difficult to sort through the masses and find the best suitable videos, quizes, texts and songs. For my students I collected media on weather reports, continents and oceans, nations of the world and the solar system. Using different methods of feedback I researched in how far my students and colleagues found it useful to work with the platform and published an article in PÄDAGOGIK 6/2016.

Dealing with authentic articles

In year 11 and 12 students who learn English as a Foreign Language should be able to read and understand a lot of authentic material like articles from actual online and print media. Still, they often don't dare to research topics they might find interesting in English.


To teach them strategies of how to approach an unknown article in an online newspaper I have collected 30 articles from online media from a variety of topics like science, culture, politics, health, sports and entertainment in a wiki. Every student was encouraged to choose an article and then work on it following several strategies like skimming, scanning, creating new headlines, looking up words, rephrasing or adding comments and questions. The aim was to understand and discover the content of the article for their personal gain but also preparing it so that it would be easier for others to comprehend.


As a final task they were supposed to invent possible exam tasks. In Germany, we work with a list of key words that indicate particular task types (like "summarize", "analyze" or "comment"). It is important for our students to understand the differences of these tasks to give them security about expected outcomes and a good way for them to understand these key words is encouraging them to create exam tasks themselves. Best case, students experience that they now have the ability to read almost any English publication they want. Through the course of the unit they should be enabled and inspired to frequently research topics of their own interest.


Hachemer, Mareike. Selbständig Informationen über Großbritannien erschließen. Unterricht in der Q-Phase mit einer interaktiven Wiki-Plattform. München: Grin, 2011.

Oscar wilde for 11-year-olds?

Second language learning for young students is often connected to texts that have been primarily chosen for didactic reasons: They include a particular grammar pattern that is supposed to be introduced and overstress it. While this can be helpful and logical, it is often boring and completely uninteresting. Authentic texts or real literature are rarely chosen for students under 16 years of age. It is possible though. Even 11-year-olds who have only really started learning English one or two years ago can be confronted with Oscar Wilde's story "The Selfish Giant" when using a few little helps and techniques. I have separated the audiobook into six very small units and given them to small groups of students to listen to, find out about the verbs and their meaning and then perform their part of the story for the rest of the class.


Hachemer, Mareike. Weltliteratur in der 6. Klasse. Hörverstehen fördern mit Oscar Wildes "The Selfish Giant". München: Grin, 2011. ISBN 978-3-656-33507-8

Vocabulary Training

Didactics for extending learners' vocabulary have changed enormously during the last decades. While learning from unconnected lists of vocabulary was still the only method for vocabulary training a few years ago the pool of methods for vocabulary training has extended enormously and offers a great variety for learners and teachers.


Make sure to ask students which strategies they have already used or what they find helpful. That is a great way to extend your repertoire. You can use word grids, vocabulary games, communicative approaches of all kinds. I have written a few texts about vocabulary trainings which will also be available in English soon.


Vokabeltraining mit Flashcards und Kommunikationsanlässen

Wortschatzerweiterung: What's in Your Lunch Box?