How to teach effectively the german language


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How to teach effectively the german language

  1. 1. “You have to teach German in Sterna (a small village in Argos). Based on the principles and theories of Educational Psychology, how you would organize your course and what issues would you take into consideration in order to achieve the most effective learning environment for your students (your students are adolescents , High School,3th grade and in an advanced level of German)<br />Student: Euridiki Damoulianou<br />Instructor: Professor Tina Stathopoulou<br />PSY 210: Educational Psychology<br />Hellenic America University<br />Spring 2011<br />Teaching is a complex procedure which requires a set of different skills, adequate knowledge of the material, varied teaching methods, communication between professors and students, implementation of the principles established in the educational research and the active participation of the learners(Gurvey,2007).<br />Thus, if i had the opportunity to teach German in a High school in my mother’s village (Sterna), i would take into account all the multiply factors which contribute to effective teaching.<br />Initially, before starting teaching German in this particular class, (which consists of 15 students who have been learning German since elementary school), i would form a teaching-plan where the specific teaching outcomes would be defined. My purpose would be to make my students capable of implementing German in real life situations such as in workplaces where German are required.<br />In addition, other purposes of teaching German in this High-school would be to make my learners capable of understanding long- complicated texts in German and analyzing different concepts, issues and facts with critical analysis. Finally, my aim would be to provide them with knowledge about the German Culture, German History and German society. <br />In my first day as an educator in this particular school, i would try to get know my new students, to communicate with them my objectives and to ask their personal evaluation about how they view them. Afterwards, they would be supplied with some tests, in order their level to be assed. <br />In general, my teaching approach would be focused mainly on the active participation of the learners. According to Piaget (1972) theories students should be encouraged to learn (German in this case) through spontaneous interaction with the environment. Thus, teachers should provide them a rich variety of activities that permit them to act directly on the physical world (Piaget, 1972). Moreover, through the active learning, students gather evidence through observing, analyzing and evaluating learning and teaching (Piaget, 1972).<br />Firstly, a classroom’s check is needed, in order to figure out whether it is designed to such a way that stimulates the student’s learning. Thus, i would adjust the room to the appropriate temperature and lighting .These factors influence student’s performance -for example, according to studies high quality lighting improves student’s moods, behavior and concentration-(Texas, 2002). <br />Secondly, the teaching methods would be based on the developmental stage that the students are. According to Piaget, adolescents (the students are 17 years old) are in the formal operational level, according to which they are able to use their logic in order to solve complicated tasks, make critical analysis to various issues and to form and answer to hypothetical situations( Psychology Lexicon, 2007). Thus, hypothetical scenarios can enhance student’s imagination and creativity.<br /> For example, i would divide the students into two groups (the one group would pretend that are Greek students and the other group that they are German students who have travelled to Greece). Once a week for one hour students would go outside to school, for example in a café and the two groups would develop various discussions only in German. They would ask personal questions to each other ,such as their age and they would exchange some personal experiences and opinions into various issues and controversial topics. Also, both groups would tell their impressions about German and Greece and the reasons why they have developed them. This technique (scenario) can help students to increase their imagination, to improve their verbal skills and hypothetical deductive reasoning and to learn how to interact with others in German in various places and situations.<br />Thirdly, because one of my aims would be to introduce the students with the German literature and history, i would present in the class once a week documenters about the German history and society (the class would have video-recorder installation). I would, ask them to write a report about these documenters and to express their opinions about them (this technique, would increase their hearing and writing skills and provide them with knowledge about German with a pleasant way). <br />Furthermore, the students would be provided with German magazines, newspapers, literature books and comics. Once every two weeks, they would be divided into groups of three and would be assigned to read two articles from the magazines, comics or newspapers that interest them and talk about them in class. Student’s collaboration in verbal and other tasks, according to vygotsky is essential because kids ,especially the more competent ones, can help others to improve and practice their language skills and solve any deficiencies’ or problems they might have such as poor articulation in German(Wertsch,1985). Also, the group projects help students to learn a subject completely, because working in a team they exchange different point of views, engage in more discussion and learn how to interact harmoniously with others-(Wertsch, 1985).<br /> In addition, students would be assigned to choose a text from the German literature books, from 20 to 40 pages, formulate a question based on the text and answer it (with a deep critical analysis). They would give me this assignment two weeks before the end of the school-year, i would correct and give it back to them again to make any necessary changes and they would return it to me for their final grade. This extra reading and writing material would help them to familiarize with long –complicated texts in German and with German literature, to increase their vocabulary and critical thinking and to improve their writing skills.<br />In addition, my learners would have to present orally via power point - presentation, (in the end of the school year) their assignment based on the literature book. This procedure will help them to practice both on their verbal and public skills.<br />Besides these extra activities, we would use 4 main course books ( one with grammatical rules and exercises, one for listening , one with German texts and vocabulary and one book only with exercises (multi-choices and essays questions). The students are in an advanced level of German and have already been taught the most basic Grammar rules and have acquired a wide range of German words as well. Thus, the main aim of their course books would be Grammar, vocabulary and other material review. <br />Thus, i would show to my students through power-point presentations, photos with various topics in different situations such as images with animals and i would ask them to describe these images and to guess which grammatical phenomenon should be applied in each situation. For example, i would show them a photo with a diagram which depicts the prices of various products during different decades, and they would have to decide which grammatical phenomenon should be used (for example passive or active voice) in order to tell that the price of bread, for example, has been increased during the recent years.<br /> Or i would ask from them to read aloud in class a text that is in their text-book and to figure out which grammatical phenomenon is being applied in this particular text. Finally, i would present directly them the grammatical rules and we would do some exercises together.<br />This technique would help them to learn how to apply the grammatical rules they already know into context and real-life situations ,which means that they would understand deeply these rules and not only memorize or apply them into their text-books or in tests. <br />In addition, i would not enhance their hearing – skills only with the typical hearing-exercises from their hearing-book, but we would hear German songs as well (i would bring a stereo recorder from my home). Afterwards i would ask them to comment briefly the phrases they liked more in these songs. This procedure would help them to practice their hearing- skills in a more playful way and to learn some new words.<br />Moreover, together with their course book which includes German texts and vocabulary, i would ask them once a week to search through the vocabulary book and other resources for one or two new words ,that they do not know and find them interesting and to write them down in a note book. Until the end of the school year, they would have written down to their note books a list of new interesting words. This procedure would help them to acquire new words with an indirect and pleasant way. <br />As far as the essay questions are concerned, every two weeks i would assign them to choose one essay question from their book of their and write them down an essay. Initially, i would underline with red pen their mistakes but i would ask from them to try to correct them alone. Or i would divide them into groups and each group would try to correct the wrong sentences. <br />Also, i would ask from some students (each time different ones) to present their essays orally in class or to give them to their classmates in order to evaluate them and make suggestions on how the essays would become more interesting. This technique enhances the critical thinking of the students, so they do not just learn passively their mistakes, and encourages them to corporate with others ,for example , when they make suggestions on how an essay can become better).<br />Finally, i would often assign them to do the exercises from the book that contains only practical exercises (multi-choices) and i would grade them. With this way each time in addition to the tests, that they would have each month, they would compare their actual performance with their previous one, which means that they would know up to a certain degree, where they stand and how much progress they have achieved so far. <br />Although, grades cannot fully indicate a student’s performance, in some way according to Skinner’s theories, they can motivate them to study, because a good grade can present for a student a kind of reward and therefore reinforcement to study (Tayo, 2001). According to Skinner, all humans behavior can be explained by the principle of reinforcement, which means that behaviors such as doing all the assignments,that are followed by rewards, for example high grades, are likely to be repeated (Tayo, 2001).Skinner also believed that individuals adapt their behaviors according to the environmental consequences that follow them (for example, students study because they do not want to fail an exam)(Tayo, 2001).<br />However, teaching German in a village is not always ideal because there are some limitations. Firstly, as a class we cannot visit a lot of places that exist in big cities, such as theater which presents a German play. It is not always easy the organization of such mini-trips due to financial causes.<br />Moreover, it does not exist a library in Sterna. Although as a teacher i have a collection of German books, a library could provide students with a wider collection of books.<br /> The same issue happens with the absence of stores in Sterna, which sell German magazines, disks and films. If existed stores like them in Sterna, students would be supplied with a variety of German magazines, disks and films.<br />Furthermore, although it exists a video-recorder in the classroom, it is in a bad state and not in a very good quality. In general, the school, like the most schools that exist in small villages, needs renovation because it is very old and with a set of deficiencies, which can distract students from learning. <br />Finally, the majority of students in small villages come from poor families. Thus, the organization of a trip in Germany for German practice would be difficult due to financial reasons.<br />However, teaching German in a small village can provide you with some opportunities. To begin with, although schools in small villages do not provide any luxuries to their students, their environment is warm and loving. All the students and teachers know each other well, there is adequate communication and much less bulling and other anti-social behaviors in comparison to the schools in the big cities.<br />In addition, although there is a limitation of places we can visit as a class in a village, the lesson can frequently be conducted in natural settings, such as the school’s garden and forests. The physical environment, the nature and the fresh air that exists in villages, help the students to concentrate more on the lesson and feel less anxiety. <br />Also, the small size of students in the class (15 students) would give me the opportunity as a teacher to focus on each student’s needs separately and to detect easier learning disabilities and other difficulties. The large student’s size that exist in schools which are in big towns, make it difficult for the teacher to give the equal amount of attention and help to each student.<br />To sum up, an efficient teaching should combine different techniques and materials, encourage student’s corporation and critical thinking and let children to be active learners and to learn mainly through social interaction, observing, analyzing and guessing. <br />Resources<br />Piaget, J. (1972). To Understand Is To Invent. New York: The Viking Press, Inc.<br />Psychology Lexicon, 2007<br />Wertsch, J.V. (1985). Cultural, Communication, and Cognition: Vygotskian Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.<br />Tayo (2001). B.F.Skinner’s Theory and Education: a Christian Critique. Education Department of Seventh-day Adventists.<br />Texas (2002). Classroom lighting: Know How. Northeast Energy Efficiency partnerships.<br />Gurney (2007).Five factors for Effective Teaching .New Zealand Journal of Teacher’s Work, 4(2), 89-98.<br />