My goal is to help students mobilize their existing interests in German language and culture, and, through that process, to expand their skills and develop their critical awareness of the world.
To do that, I try to turn language learning on its head. Language courses become culture courses, only taught in another language. We take up serious themes of real interest, then learn the linguistic structures necessary to read, write, and talk about those themes.
In the General Studies courses, I seek above all to let students pursue their own disciplinary interests within the framework of the course. Semester-long research projects, in which students relate course themes to studies in their major or minor, are the centerpiece of these courses.
In both instances, I operate on the conviction that students will willingly pursue fascinating questions, and will work hard on something they truly care about. Demanding assignments involving significant amounts of reading, writing, and thinking provide students the opportunity to confront these fascinating questions head-on, and class discussions expand that confrontation.
Above all, the course must be perceived by students as a worthwhile endeavor that commands their attention and justifies its demands on their time. Learning must be satisfying, else it won't be pursued.
Siebzig Minuten, drei Mal in der Woche. So wenig Zeit haben Studenten und Lehrer zusammen, um eine klare, messbare Verbesserung der Sprachfähigkeiten und Kulturkenntnisse zu erzielen. Aus dieser Einschränkung ergeben sich drei Prinzipien:
Die Studenten müssen gut vorbereitet sein.
Der Lehrer muss gut vorbereitet sein.
Die Stunde muss anspruchsvoll und engagierend sein.