German lessons for native speakers offer great opportunities for relevant tasks and meaningful activities. Teaching can include various methods like discussions, role playing, creative writing and much more. Since usually - apart from communication and reading - writing is one of the most important skills to acquire, text types need to be chosen which can also be used in the real world. This also puts an emphasis on re-writing and feedback culture since it makes it the aim of all participants to produce publishable material.
If you read and teach German, you might be interested in the website I have prepared for my students in year 12 and 13. It includes German poetry, newspaper articles, videos about literature research or performances. It is a work in progress, since I keep changing it as we proceed in the curriculum. Right now it is the era of romanticism and its lyric and novels. Later this year it will be education and humanitarianism in the German classic. Feel free to visit and use materials at www.oberstufedeutschschaffen.jimdo.com
Nathan der Weise is a play published by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 1779. Being a plea for religious tolerance its topic is particularly relevant today. The teaching unit I created for students in year 11 helps students approach this challenging piece of literature with theater methods, but also takes into consideration that not everyone feels comfortable being an actor. This is why students choose whether they want to be actors, hosts or writers and together they prepare an afternoon with rewritten scenes from the play, introductory speeches and boards with background information.
Hachemer, Mareike. Nathan am Nachmittag. Didaktische Reihe zum szenischen Erschließen von Lessings "Nathan der Weise". München: Grin, 2011.
The way we see ourselves is usually different from the way others see us. This is one of the main reasons for misunderstandings, conflicts and personal crises. The story of blogger Mollwitz in Daniel Kehlmann's bestselling novel Ruhm is a perfect example of a big difference between the way the blogger sees himself and how his boss perceives his actions. Analyzing the story the students find out about this difference in perception and use it to research psychological backgrounds. They start asking: How can I find out how others perceive me?
Hachemer, Mareike. Selbst- und Fremdwahrnehmung erkennen. Unterrichtsstunde in einer 11. Klasse zur Selbstwahrnehmung des Bloggers Mollwitz in Daniel Kehlmanns "Ruhm". München: Grin, 2011.
In some countries students and teachers are faced with a strict literature curriculum, in some places they can choose depending on their interest and needs. Whether you are in the first group or not, you can gain a little bit of choice by allowing students to choose key parts of a novel. And this can be a great start for a teaching unit. Get your students to read the novel and exchange ideas about the content. Then collect suggestions for the most important scenes. When students create freeze frames about the scene they need to understand the scenes first and transform them into visual images. Other students then associate topics from those freeze frames: A great way to develop study questions that lead to close reading and analysis.
Hachemer, Mareike. Mit Standbildern Unterrichtsschwerpunkte mitbestimmen. Themenauswahl in einer 11. Klasse zu Bernhard Schlinks "Der Vorleser". München: Grin, 2011. ISBN: 978-3-656-33437-8
Fortunately, the German curriculum considers reflection on language an important aspect of learning. In year 9 most students - whether they admit it or not - are particularly interested in communication with potential flirt partners. They often get their more or less helpful advice from copying flirting techniques they see in TV shows, in web tutorials or articles they read in girls' or boys' magazines. The song "Willst du mit mir gehn?" by the German band The Wise Guys offers a great conversation starter to encourage the dialog between students so that they can find out which ways to approach a potential flirt partner are appropriate and appreciated.
Hachemer, Mareike. Reflexion über Sprache. Anmachfloskeln mit Schülern der 9. Klasse anhand des Liedes "Willst Du mit gehn?" von den Wise Guys entlarven. München: Grin, 2011.
In our literature lessons one of the typical aspects to examine are the protagonists. What kinds of people are they? What do we learn about them? And how is our judgement influenced by the narrator's point of view?
Why do we do this? For students it is important to learn how to filter information about people (in fiction and in real life). There is information about a person's looks, their backgrounds,
attitudes and behavior. And from all of this we draw a conclusion towards their character traits. This also helps overcome and discover prejudice: Just because we have a first impression about a
person because of their looks, we still need to check other aspects to find out who they really are. And we learn that even though it might be said that someone is unreliable or dishonest we
might find a lot of proof in a text or in real life that they actually are loyal and trustworthy people.
Reading a novella like "Kleider machen Leute" - which is about a tailor who comes to a village as a poor person in rich clothes who is treated like a count - students need to work like detectives to find all the clues given in the text. The fact that his appearance suggests a high status, while really he is very poor supports the fact that students can use his example to overcome prejudice. Since students might find it more or less difficult to distinguish between the different aspects of a characterization and might have other topics they would like to focus on, I have prepared several tasks which can be worked on at individual pace and with or without help from classmates and teachers. Students are encouraged to check their competences before choosing suitable tasks, then work on tasks and check their progress. In the end they should be able to write a full characterization with a suitable introduction, several paragraphs on the different aspects of a character with significant quotations and a conclusion which shows how they perceive the character.
Hachemer, Mareike. Figuren charakterisieren. Lernzirkel in einer 8. Klasse zur Charaktersierung Wenzel Strapinskis in "Kleider machen Leute". München: Grin, 2011.
In year seven students work on their ability to describe actions. They will need to do this in almost every profession that deals with craft, in medical professions, teaching, sports or management and also in their private lives, e.g. when setting up furniture with a friend or spouse. In some situations like driving or working with heavy machinery it can be absolutely life threatening not to be clear on instructions of how someone should proceed. Wording an instruction for a movement is actually much more challenging than you'd think. We tried explaining movements in a chain of people from one person to the next and the last movement in the line usually looked completely different to the first.
Nevertheless, students often think it is unnecessary to learn this. In a school setting they could also just as easily show a movement rather than explain it. An additional motivation needed to be found to explain movement. So we took photos and created a calender for an exercise programme for our school yard. The students enjoyed taking pictures and imagining exercises and also writing about it. They tried their instructions on students who had worked in other groups to see whether their words are clear. We handed our manual in at a teaching and learning competition and were awarded a prize for our idea and product. Our school was given a climbing wall for all students and teachers to be used.
Hachemer, Mareike. Bewegungen beschreiben. Schreibkonferenz zu einem eigenen Sportparcours in der 7. Klasse. München: Grin, 2011. ISBN 978-3-656-34980-8
German students who currently go to school are lucky in some regard. They haven't experienced war first hand. Therefore, they find it difficult to imagine what life is like for a child that
experiences death, destruction, fear and loss or might have to escape to another country. The novel "Krieg - stell dir vor, er wäre hier" by Janne Teller makes students imagine that it was them
who lived in a war situation. It inspired my students to express their feelings in poems, essays and short stories. Their works were published by Hanser Verlag.