Friday, September 21, 2007

Sprachentag! (und die anderen Tage meiner Woche...)

A quick review of my week:

was absolutely gorgeous. I laid outside in the sun, read my book, went for a bike ride, met a teacher for Kuchen at her house and got ready to start a new school week.

afternoon I went to a seminar held by Dr. Wittenbrock, who worked on the French-German textbook Histoire/Geschichte. This was the first time I got to meet him, but he knew who I was right away and was excited that I came, and even introduced me to the group saying how thrilled he had been to hear that "an American was interested in our project!" It was a two-hour seminar for history teachers to learn more about the book and give feedback. It was so fascinating. I was really excited to be there. He and his French collaborator talked about working together on this project, and the seminar was also held in French and German. We got sample pages of the book to discuss, and talked about possible improvements for future revisions. The publisher was there and gave everyone present free copies of the book! They are still trying to promote its use, as each school decides individually whether or not they will use it.

Tuesday was Sprachentag, foreign language day, at the Gymnasium am Rothenbühl. I worked together with a former language assistant, Katie, with a sixth grade class. This is an elite sports school, and they are divided into classes by whether or not they're a sports class. This one was all athletes, with some of them doing over 20 hours of sports a week including their free time! So we decided to teach them sports vocabulary. We started out just doing "What do you play?" "I play..." The most popular sports being, of course, Fußball and then maybe track. Then we talked about words to describe sports and then last they had to make posters to try to get other kids to do sports. Some groups were really creative. My favorite was a drawing of a fat stick man, who morphed into a slim stick man! Or one group's slogan was "Throw away the bacon!" haha, you can see some of the examples above, and here was the winning (they voted) poster below (she's trying not to laugh):
I'm not being sexist...but the girls' posters were just so much cuter. We shouldn't have let them make their own groups, but on the other hand they're at the age where the boys don't want to work with the girls anyways. One group didn't have any pictures, just "PLAY SPORTS, Go, Go, Go". I asked them if they maybe wanted to draw a soccer ball..."We're boys. We don't do that." But in general the class was pretty well-behaved and excited about learning some English phrases. It's cute to see how excited they are, that kinda wears off with the years...

Wednesday I went back to the DFG, where I sat in on some classes and talked during one class hour. It was a more advanced English class and I told them about the differences between American high schools and German Gymnasien. They asked me if we really have cheerleaders, and I had to even admit that they sometimes wear their outfits to school (but only on game days!). They asked how long American kids are allowed to stay out on the weekend (depends on the parents and the kids, right?) and about prom. I told them we have lockers, the teachers have classrooms and they have the same schedule every day, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 or so (few American schools have block scheduling, all German schools do, they feel bad for the teachers who always have the last period when kids can't concentrate!). I told them about my schedule in high school (school, swim practice, trumpet lessons, homework starting at maybe 8:00 p.m.) and tried to explain "school spirit," which does not exist here. They don't really have school clubs and don't have school sports teams, only regional club teams. They don't volunteer like we do and aren't involved in their school any more than putting in their hours to graduate. I'm sure that I will have at least 6 more discussions like this, so we'll see what other questions come up. Above is a picture of the DFG from the back, looking across the Sportplatz where they go for recess.

Thursday I got to school and both the teachers I work with were sick, so I walked back home and finished my book, Tortilla Curtain, by T.C. Boyle. Great book, by the way. Then I went grocery shopping in preparation for my dinner party. The group of Americans in Saarbrücken is trying to get together weekly, and I hosted last night. So we had the four Americans, a young German teacher and my two roommates Nabiha and Johannes. I made Flammkuchen, a regional specialty from Alsace, France. To the left is a picture of one I ate in Koblenz. Mine looked similar: a thin dough smeared with crème fraiche, sprinkled with thinly-sliced onions and bacon. yummm... I also made pizza dough and then we all "decorated" our own half-pizza with various toppings. For dessert I made apple-quark muffins (we don't have quark in the US, which is really too bad). And we went through a lot of good wine. :) It was a really fun night and it's always fun to hear about the other students' experiences.


  1. When the teachers are sick, is there a substitute?

  2. No, no substitutes. If a teacher is sick they post it on a board. The older students will just have the hour off, to do homework or whatever. And for the younger students another teacher just fills in and gives them work to do or something. Good question!