German as a foreign language
The Deutsch-Café as a new language offering for teachers and learners of German

Logo Deutsch-Café
The Deutsch-Café offers learners and teachers of German an opportunity for exchange. | Illustration: © Goethe-Institut Thailand

We kill many birds with one stone: the Deutsch Café offers Thai school students to apply the German language in practical situations, while students of German as a foreign language can practice teaching – promotion of German and networking inclusively.

With the Deutsch-Café, the Goethe-Institut Thailand has offered a new pedagogical format since August aiming to bring teachers and learners of German together.

The concept: Once a week, Thai school students, Thai students of German studies and students of German as a foreign language from Germany virtually meet one another to speak German together. Students from an online course look at a table Photo (detail): © Goethe-Institut Thailand This offer is targeted at school students with language competency at level A1/A2. For the students, it is a great opportunity to practice teaching. They pair off and work in tandem in preparing the weekly conversation classes on certain topics.

They are supervised by experienced teachers, who assist in the preparation of their classes and provide valuable feedback during and after each lesson.
Moreover, the Thai students additionally receive an introduction in German as a foreign language teaching at the beginning of the project since the field of study is oriented very differently in both countries.

“German studies abroad in Thailand does not aim at the teaching of the German language,” said Jörg Klinner, head of the language department of the Goethe-Institut Bangkok, “but rather deals with the German language as a medium”

An initial interim conclusion

Thanarat Dithwatcharapaisarn, the Deutsch Café tutor has been very positive about the teamwork at a distance:
“Although they come from different universities, and did not know one another before, all the participants manage to work very well with one another without having to meet in person.” Students from an online course look at a map of Germany. Photo (detail): © Goethe-Institut Thailand What learning achievements are evident among the students? “I am convinced that the preparation of the classes, including the preparatory talks and debriefing sessions in the big group enormously help foster tolerance and openness,” said  lecturer Wanwisa Sukmak. “The students can practice expressing their opinions constructively, and looking at their teaching from a different angle.”

Apart from problem-solving skills, what they primarily learn to manage is the relation between preparation and improvisation as one of the student has affirmed: “Above all, I have become aware of the fact that precise lesson planning is important but in the class it does not always go according to the plan especially when it comes to time management and cooperation of the learners.” Fortunately, the biggest surprise is positive:
 “It surprised me the most that the receptive competence – reading comprehension in particular – of the students is better than assumed. Many times, they are more capable than we thought.” Students from an online course working on an exercise. Photo (detail): © Goethe-Institut Thailand “The more we concern ourselves with the project,” said Jörg Klinner, “the more we realize, how versatile it is and what potential it has: “experience of German as a foreign language teaching, promotion for the profession as German as a foreign language teachers, teaching of the German language at school and university levels, language contact through the teamwork with native speakers, and – not to be forgotten – the intercultural exchange.”

A lot of birds can be killed with one stone. As things are now, it is a matter of the extension and further development of the Deutsch-Café.


The learning objectives of the Deutsch-Café at a glance

For school students:

  • conversation at level A1 or A2
  • contact with native speakers of German (or speakers at one of the very high CEFR levels living in Germany)
  • contact with Thai students of German studies abroad

For students of German as a foreign language in Thailand:

  • the use of the German language
  • to discover the teaching of German as a foreign language through conversation
  • networking with German as a foreign language students in Germany

For students of German as a foreign language in Germany:

  • networking with Thai students of German studies abroad
  • to become familiar with Thai school students learning German
  • to develop competencies important for teaching and to gain teaching experience (according to the principles of Goethe-Instituts)