In our modern language classes, we foster a communicative approach and encourage our students to speak in the target language as much as possible. There are multiple ways of doing this, ranging from dialogues and skits to voice recording, podcasts, videos, classroom discussions, and more. While speaking assignments in the beginner classes often involve memorization and practicing phrases and words relevant to specific situations—asking for directions, ordering food, meeting friends etc.—our intermediate and advanced classes move towards a more spontaneous use of language. Topics evolve from the more personal to those more closely related to a country’s literature and culture, as well as topics of more global significance.
Recently, one of the topics in German IV was technology. Our students, who are currently contemplating future careers, possible study programs and colleges, were tasked with taking on the role of architect, a potential career option. The aspiring architects developed concepts and models for the 'house of the future' and submitted them to an 'architectural competition.' They presented their ideas to their classmates in German, using vocabulary related to technology and smart living. For their presentations, they were required to speak freely in front of their peers with just a few prompts that were embedded in their projects. It was also essential that they comment on their classmates’ concepts, and then decide which among them were the strongest concepts in order to choose the winners of the competition.
All of the contestants earned praise for succeeding so well at this demanding challenge, and the top three deservedly received a Gummi Bear award.
-Jana Becker, German teacher