DLL uses methods from action-oriented classroom-based research and teacher-observation studies to provide teachers with the best possible, practical training. This means that in addition to gaining new pedagogical knowledge during training and continuing education programs, teachers are also continuously encouraged to observe their own and other teachers’ lessons and to identify and try out new methods in the classroom. This allows for research-based and reflective experiential learning to complement the acquisition of theoretical knowledge.
Practical Exploration Projects (PEPs)
During each DLL unit, the teachers in training will explore their own lessons. Practical Exploration Projects (Praxiserkundungsprojekte – PEPs) make it possible for teachers to observe, evaluate, and possibly make changes to their lessons while taking their specific context and limited time and energy resources into account.
In a group of two to three people and under professional guidance, the teachers are given the opportunity to share their experiences in person, broaden their possibilities for taking action, and gain new and interesting insight into various situations in the classroom.
Video recordings from real German language classrooms on three continents with different target groups are an important part of DLL. These classroom documentaries are not meant to be considered best practice models, but instead are intended to facilitate reflection about lessons in a general context.
The video recordings of lessons can be easily accessed while working on the various topics. They are included on the DVD with the print editions of the DLL units and can also be accessed on mobile end devices via QR codes. In the online version they can be directly accessed via a corresponding link.
Lesson with school children in New Delhi (Grade 7)
Lesson with adults at Goethe-Institut München
During DLL continuing education and training programs, teachers become familiar with the following classroom guidelines (i.e., didactic and methodological principals):
Every lesson aims to develop skills. A lesson that aims to develop skills should be planned based on the skills to be gained and the performance expectations should be formulated as explicit “knowledge” and “can-do” descriptions.
Skill orientation also means checking whether and to what extent the learners have acquired the target skills by the end of a specific period of time. Of course it is not possible to check all of the target skill areas. In other words, not all learning objectives are also testing objectives. For example, foreign language classes generally do not check personality-related skills, but rather procedural skills such as listening comprehension, speaking, etc.
Learner orientation takes the individuality, interests, and language learning needs of the learner into account. This also means that diverse learning materials and types of work are used for the specific group of learners and that the learners, for example, are offered a selection of different assignments and approaches. It is assumed that this positively affects the learners’ motivation.
Learner activation assumes that learners who actively engage in what they are learning in the classroom gain a deeper understanding of the material and thus achieve better learning results. Active learners participate in lessons by asking questions and drawing conclusions. They discover linguistic structures on their own or attempt to describe regularities. They take over organizational tasks, assignments that influence learning, and even teaching activities. Active learners are more motivated and focused when working on tasks. They develop a greater awareness of their abilities and how they learn language.
Interaction orientation requires learners to be given tasks that encourage them to work together. This means, for example, that they can express their own views, respond to the views of others, and much more. The tasks must be designed in such a way that the learners have to interact with one another, for example in role-playing games, by using various social forms, or through assignments that require them to negotiate something, convince someone of something, or inform someone about something they don’t know yet.
In the interest of promoting autonomous learning, learners should be encouraged to take a conscious and reflective approach to their learning. From the very beginning, decisions and processes used in lessons should focus on using existing languages and language learning experiences as effectively as possible, while at the same time preparing learners to learn additional (foreign) languages.
Communicating in a foreign language is always tied to culturally-influenced social contexts. For this reason, it is important that lessons create learning situations that allow learners to experience the cultural context of communicating in the foreign language. This allows learners to notice similarities and differences in how they communicate in their own culture. The best-case scenario is that learners will acquire skills and communicative strategies so that they can navigate their way through everyday life in a German-speaking country.
Task orientation is closely related to action orientation. According to this principle, learners should primarily be confronted with tasks that are either related to their everyday lives or tie into future linguistic actions. They should have the opportunity to discover “real” questions and answer them in the foreign language. New vocabulary and grammatical rules can play a role, but are not the primary focus, as they are, for example, in isolated grammar exercises.
Many people who learn German have already learned another foreign language, which can be helpful, for example, in quickly recognizing certain structures in the target languages and figuring out the meaning of words. For this reason, lessons should tie into the learners’ language learning and communication experiences to reflect this multilingual orientation.