On November 23, 2019, the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Goethe Institute in Washington DC solidified their cooperation via a Memorandum of Understanding.
The Goethe-Institut (GI) and AATG are two institutions connected by a common goal: To promote the German language and culture in the USA and globally. With around 3,500 members, the AATG, founded in 1926, is the largest international association of German teachers worldwide. The AATG was most recently honored for their engagement by the International Federation of Language Teacher Associations / Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes (FIPLV) with the FIPLV International Award Certificate of Honor 2018.
What happens, now that the GI and AATG will be working together more closely in the future? This next step is a catalyst for new, internationally connected projects that may well leave an impact far beyond the boundaries of the American continent. On November 23, 2019, the long-term cooperation between the AATG and the GI was officially sealed through a memorandum of understanding to promote German as a foreign language in the USA.
MOU Signing in Washington DC
The cooperation was made official in a worthy framework: the memorandum was signed during the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Convention 2019 in the newly opened regional institute of the Goethe Institute in Washington. The cooperation between the partners had recently proven itself successful in several projects, including, for example, the virtual German teachers' conference GETVICO, the current data collection on the status of German as a foreign language and the music tour with Eddi Hüneke, a former member of the "Wise Guys". In addition, AATG and GI have been jointly inviting German teachers to the well-established Saturday evening of the annual ACTFL convention for many years.
At the ceremony, Susanne Rinner, the President of the AATG, presented words of thanks to all those who have contributed to taking this first step to consolidate the cooperation between GI and AATG: “We need people like you who have helped to make this collaboration possible in the first place. Because cooperation doesn't come to life on its own. Time and time again people have to come together with a common goal of eradicating barriers with creativity, commitment and conviction while jointly standing behind what really matters. This here is a wonderful example of such a successful endeavor”.
Contents and Objectives of the MOU
Both institutions hold a commitment to the teaching and learning of the German language and culture and higher education - a common working basis is thus in place. Common goals are also not difficult to find: Given the declining number of German learners in the entirety of the educational landscape in the USA, but particularly in higher education, the support of German teachers is urgently needed.
One of the core objectives of the new collaboration is that both parties will now annually coordinate their strategies and plans. Through new joint advertising strategies and campaigns, both AATG and GI hope to contribute to the attractiveness of German as a Foreign Language in the USA.
German remains the third most commonly learned language in the United States, though this year's data collection on the status of German as a Foreign Language in the United States shows that the number of German learners has decreased significantly since 2015.
New Projects: "SPARK"
A first important project in the new cooperation is the introduction of a structured program designed to build resources and competencies in the field of German as a foreign language ("SPARK for German").
"The aim of" SPARK" is to spark joy and interest of early language learning through extracurricular after-school programs for elementary school students," explains Dr. Anne Schönhagen, Head of the Language Department North America at the Goethe-Institut, when asked about the thoughts behind the idea for this new joint project. "And note that this applies to both sides - for learners as well as teachers".
SPARK is a promising project for both partners, since youth development is a particular focus in the work of the Goethe-Institut and AATG in North America.
Angelika Rockel, 2019
Translated by Eileen Sellman