Business in German lessons In practice: “Unternehmen Deutsch”

Student attending an internship at a German company in France.
Student attending an internship at a German company in France. | © Goethe-Institut/Dietmar Wäsche

How can teachers introduce the subject of business in foreign language teaching to make it exciting? How can you get young students of German interested in Germany as a business centre? The Unternehmen Deutsch project brings both business and German tuition together.
 

Unternehmen Deutsch is aimed at upper secondary level students (sixth form) or young students about to embark on a degree course or career. In six lesson modules they are given a glimpse of the working environment in German companies, and use the German language in a professional context. Students draw up profiles of German companies and develop an appropriate product for them. They work in project groups to conduct research using the German-language websites of those companies, as well as sending emails to contact persons there. They collect information and present “their” company to the class. In a second phase they develop a new product and an advertising campaign for that company in a sort of simulation game. Students need to have a minimum of level A2/B1 in their German skills.

Teaching materials and handouts

The Goethe-Institut has been offering Unternehmen Deutsch as a school project in France, Italy and Belgium for some years. The Goethe-Institut Paris has created teaching materials with exercises and answer sheets, as well as teacher handouts, to make these ideas and content accessible anywhere in the world. The materials are divided into six modules, each dedicated to a particular theme.
 
Module 1 – Germany as a business centre
Socio-cultural information on Germany as an export nation and the history of the German economy

Module 2 – The working environment
Introduction to the hierarchy and organisation of companies, the apprenticeship system and career profiles

Module 3 – Profile of a company
Project 1: create and present a company profile

Module 4 – Advertisement
Learning circle dealing with the theme of advertising

Module 5 – A new product
Project 2: develop a product for a company

Module 6 – A work placement in Germany
Job application training and intercultural preparation for a work placement in a German company
 
The structure and content of the modules, as well as the methodological and didactic explanatory notes on the teacher handouts, are geared at providing tuition that offers variety and takes a hands-on approach. You can download all lesson material free of charge here.

Partnerships with German companies

In France the focus is on direct cooperation between the Goethe-Institut Paris and companies in Germany that are significant on the global market, such as Bayer Pharma AG or Volkswagen AG. Students from France have the opportunity to apply for a mini work placement in a company in Germany.
 
In Italy, school classes identify a German or Italian company in their region that maintains economic relations with Germany. After visiting the company together, the class presents the partner company through a blog and develops an innovative idea for a product or service for them. In future, career orientation will become even more important for Unternehmen Deutsch. The project will be implemented from Autumn 2014 as a joint venture with the Bundesministerium für Bildung (Federal Ministry for Education and Research) and the Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (Federal Institute for Vocational Training).
 
If you would like to contact a German company, you can ask the German Chamber of Foreign Trade in your country. You can also contact German companies locally, or companies that maintain economic relations with Germany. You are likely to be successful if you write to the Communications / HR Department (training area).

“Unternehmen Deutsch” as a blended-learning project

Lesson planning should allow for online phases in which to research the project, because Unternehmen Deutsch also aims to improve the students’ media skills. In France, Unternehmen Deutsch is run as a blended-learning project. The information is gathered in working areas on the Moodle learning platform and a glossary is created. The student groups can develop their presentations as Wikis, and make their documents and images accessible to all. In Belgium the project was run as a tandem project at a German, Flemish and Walloon school. The students can also use the learning platform to work together on their project from a remote location.
 
Perhaps you have a learning platform at your school, which you can adapt to suit the particular requirements of the project. Otherwise you can create a course area free of charge on Moodle. The Goethe-Institut Paris will be able to provide a free course template on MeinGoethe.de from the end of 2014.
 
Unternehmen Deutsch is an attractive complement to German lessons, offering students an initial orientation for their career perspectives involving German language. More than 1400 students have participated in the programme so far in France, Italy and Belgium.
 

Background

Logo © Goethe-Institut e. V. Unternehmen Deutsch came into being in 2010 in France as part of the “Schools: Partners for the Future” (PASCH) initiative. As it was received so positively, it was extended to schools that were not members of the PASCH network, and it was also offered in Italy and Belgium. Hilla Franken is responsible for this project in France. Unternehmen Deutsch is now part of the Mit Deutsch in den Beruf initiative, which the Goethe-Institut offices across South-Western Europe started up in 2012.