I have been thinking a lot about German lately. That’s no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I have been thinking a lot about teaching German. I am currently studying German at BYU in their German Teaching program, which will not only give me a degree in German when i graduate, but a teaching license in the State of Utah as well. I am honestly a little scared to death when I realize that I will need to have several lesson plans each day for 180 days of the school year, and that there are a lot of things that I cannot plan for. But one thing I know very well is the German language, and I have studied language and second language acquisition for a while now, so I’m confident I could do at least an adequate job. But I keep thinking about how to make teaching German better, how to help students learn it better.
To learn German one needs to be as immersed in the language as native speakers are. One should read books, watch movies, hear music, speak and converse with others. I have heard it said that the best way to learn a language is to read in that language. When I look at my own English skills I see that this is true. I read a lot when I was kid, I read large novels, a large variety of novels and through reading I was exposed to many different ways of using the English language. I learned different writing styles, sentence structures and syntax. When I think about how well I speak and write in English, I realize that it is because I read a lot.
I want to foster that same language learning skill in my German classroom. And one way I have thought about is by writing simple novels in German. I want to write short little novellas, using German that is simple enough for students to understand while still introducing them to new vocabulary and grammar constructions. I would also like to expose them to German culture through the novellas. Something like a mixture of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and Angels and Demons is what I had in mind. I loved playing those Carmen Sandiego computer games as a kid, they were fun and entertaining, while still teaching you a lot about geography and history. I also recently watched the movie Angels and Demons again with my wife, and was fascinated with how it taught both history (if at times somewhat inaccurately) and the geography of Rome. I would love to write some kind of simple German novella that takes place in a German city, where the hero, in order to solve some great mystery, or maybe catch a thief, has to travel all across the city looking at landmarks and using the history of the city and Germany to get one step ahead. That could be a fun way of helping students learn the language and culture at the same time.
I think this could be a lot of fun to write, and could be a lot of fun to use in a classroom. But as of right now, this is just a great idea. I should be writing more, and maybe I’ll post what I’ve written here. What do you think?