Mr. Stutzman, tell us about your background: Where, when, and why did you learn German?
I started learning German in Hegins, Pennsylvania. My father took German in high school and could speak Pennsylvania Dutch. He spoke both at home sometimes and I found it to be cool. When I was able to pick a language, I took German. I started learning German in 9th grade in 2003.
Where, when, and why did you decide to become a German teacher?
I decided to become a German teacher during my final year of high school. I was asked by my German teacher at the time to tutor a lower-level German learner. I said yes and I really enjoyed seeing him understand things after I had gone over it. I was then accepted to college and the rest is history!
What is the most challenging part in teaching German? What is the most rewarding?
Challenging – I would say the most challenging part is finding multiple ways to make grammar more enjoyable or fun for the learners. I can make learning vocabulary fun, and have a few tricks up my sleeve in regards to making grammar enjoyable, but this is what I find the most challenging.
Rewarding – Definitely the progress the level 1 learners make throughout their first year. They come in knowing next to no German and by the end of the year they can do so much more!
Is there anything like a “special profile” to those students who take/learn German?
Not at all. My classes always have a wide variety of language learners. They come from all walks of life. This makes my classes very varied and all the more interesting.
Where did/do you get support, guidance as a yet relatively inexperienced German teacher?
Every first year language teacher in my county gets a mentor. This mentor is an experienced language teacher in the county. I had the privilege of having Hal Boland as my mentor.
In your opinion: What are the prospects for German as a foreign language in the US?
1. Both English and German share a common language ancestor so many of the words are very similar!
2. I believe German is on the rise. My very first year at my school I had 30 level 1 learners. This year I have 60. The number has gone up every year. More and more students, in my opinion, want to learn German.
The interview was conducted by Christoph Veldhues and Olga Liamkina.