National Teach German Day
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Wednesday, October 4th is the first annual National Teach German Day. It is designed to recognize the important role that German teachers play in our schools and communities and encourage the next generation of German teachers. For that reason, I am going to talk today about the German teacher who inspired me to do what I do.
This may seem a bit strange to you if you have watched my video about how and why I learned German, but I only had 2 German teachers ever. In high school I had the same teacher for three years of German classes. When I graduated high school, my German teacher took a position at the same university where I was going for my teaching degree. So when I started taking more German classes, I had the same teacher I had in high school.
As you might imagine, having the same teacher for seven years will allow you to get to know them really well, but I didn’t just have this teacher for classes. My first trip to Germany was in 2004 after my junior year of high school. She gave me this opportunity. She is the one who introduced me to the German language, culture, and people. If I hadn’t taken that trip, I definitely wouldn’t have taken more German classes in college, let alone get a full degree in it.
Ironically, I don’t think it is the things that I learned from classes that had the biggest impact on the kind of teacher I have become. My German teacher offered several other opportunities to learn about the German language and culture outside of the classroom. We would have holiday parties in which we would speak only German while hanging out with some of the other German majors. About once a semester German films were shown in one of the classrooms in the evening. I went to every one of these films that I could. I think I missed two in my four years at the university.
The greatest out-of-class experience I had, though, was our weekly Stammtisch. Every Friday the German professors, some philosophy professors who spoke German and a variety of other German speaking faculty from the university along with German students would get together in a local coffee shop and talk for an hour, two or even more about whatever came up. We would speak in only German. The conversations ranged from what was going on with campus activities to local and national politics and, of course, our previous or planned travels to Germany.
In my second to last semester at the university I took a class called “Methods of Teaching Foreign Language”. During one of our “peer teaching” exercises, I made a video to go with the lyrics of “Was soll ich ihr schenken?” by die Prinzen. This was the first video I ever made. It was just a bunch of still pictures with text over them set to the music, but it was an experience that changed how I viewed education. From then on I knew that there was so much more that a video could teach someone than some lessons could offer. If it weren’t for this class, I wouldn’t even be making this video right now.