The German language: Getting Fit for Abitur Classes in Upper School
by Dr. Sabine Jasny, Lehrerin für Deutsch als Fremdsprache sowie IB German A –Language and Literature und German B
During Salem’s first Autumn Academy (Herbstakademie) three international students trained reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in their foreign language of German.

During the coronavirus pandemic many events have been cancelled, but some new ones also created. In the 2020 autumn holiday, for instance, the first Autumn Academy for German as a Foreign Language was conducted in Salem College. Its goal was to prepare international students for the challenges facing them when making the transition to the Abitur programme’s Oberstufe. The typical courses taught at language schools are often too general and rarely offer the opportunity to practice language skills at the very high level required for exams, especially in the school subject of German.

The Autumn Academy set about to address that need: From 27 October to 4 November 2020 Taiyang Li, Yiqing Chen and Tianyong Hu spent 40 classroom hours honing their skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening in the manner required in their regular German classes. They read literary texts, examined vocabulary, analysed content and linguistic means, and wrote three timed examinations. These were then marked and returned so that the students could improve their work themselves. In the afternoons they discussed a variety of topics and learned to apply the appropriate rhetorical tools, while also learning how to take a critical stance in discussions. Yiqing Chen was quite happy to get this opportunity: “Deeping my knowledge of grammatical structures enabled me to recognize what the German idiom ‚Übung macht den Meister‘ means. I am very glad to have gotten this chance to improve my German skills in the autumn holiday. Autumn is a time of harvest, but I prefer ploughing and sowing to harvesting. I am very grateful that there were three friendly and patient teachers ready to help us.“

Along with the three course participants, the three teachers agree that the Autumn Academy should become firmly established for international students of Year 11, and perhaps even expanded to include Year 10. The academy indeed offers an excellent opportunity to work on essential topics in peace and in sufficient detail.