Mrs. O'Bryan, tell us about your background: Where, when, and why did you learn German?
I was a student at Nolan Catholic High School. We participated in the AOE contest and I won a trip to Schlitz, Germany. The trip helped spark my interest in continuing to learn German. I majored in German and History at the University of Oklahoma.
Where, when, and why did you decide to become a German teacher?
I had always thought about becoming a teacher. Although I prepared to teach German and World History, I knew I would rather teach German because it’s a lot more fun – there’s so many different topics and activities we can do in the classroom! Teaching German also helps me to improve my own knowledge of the language.
What is the most challenging part in teaching German? What is the most rewarding?
Improving my oral competence is the most challenging part. I applied for a Goethe-Institut stipend for a language course in the summer of 2015. Seeing my students grow in their ability and confidence is the most rewarding part. Once I got my German 4 students speaking in the target language, they don’t like to speak in English anymore.
Where did/do you get support, guidance as a yet relatively inexperienced German teacher?
Online and through the AATG North Texas chapter. I also get a lot of support and ideas from the Facebook Group “Wir unterrichten Deutsch”.
Is there anything like a “special profile” to those students who take learn German?
Most of my students took Spanish throughout elementary school and junior high, but they chose to switch to German when they reached high school. I think they’re more adventurous and more motivated than many of their peers. In addition, they tend to be interested in German for its own sake, rather than for its immediate application or practicality.
In your opinion: What are the prospects for German as a foreign language in the US?
German will continue to be small but strong especially with the Goethe-Institut and AATG pushing for advocacy. The quality of our teaching and the fun we have in the classroom will help keep our programs strong.
The interview was conducted by Christoph Veldhues and Olga Liamkina.