Welcome to our e-textbook Willkommen: Deutsch für alle. We have collected some information here that you might find useful to understanding the approach we took with our e-textbook. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Willkommen: Deutsch für alle is an innovative beginning German language e-textbook which follows a blended-learning model. It is designed for two semesters of course work at the college/ university level with three 50-minute classes per week, and students completing online lessons at their own pace between the in-class lessons.
A typical week could look like this:
|Unit 1.1 in-class||Unit 1.3 in-class||Unit 1.5 in-class|
|Unit 1.2 online||Unit 1.4 online||Unit 1.6 online|
It features a total of 12 units which range from 8-16 lessons (in-class and online). Units 1-5 should be covered in the first semester and are an equivalent to the A1 level of the Common European Framework of References. Units 6-12 should be covered in the second semester and are an equivalent to the A2 level of the CEFR.
Each lesson is clearly laid out in a vertical manner, you scroll from the top of the page to the bottom. In-class lessons start out with a warm-up activity, intended to review materials from the previous lesson (and the online lesson that students completed at home) and to get students back into “German mode”. The warm-up activities are often done with the entire class where students are supposed to quickly and spontaneously respond in order to get as many students as possible involved.
Following the warm-up activity, each in-class lesson features a variety of activities practicing listening, speaking, or reading skills. Grammatical structures are introduced implicitly in an oral or written contexts. Students will use the new grammatical structures in a guided activity first before they are asked to hypothesize about any potential rules for the new structure.
Online lessons are to be completed by the students at their own pace at home in between the in-class lessons. They feature listening, viewing, and reading activities as well as easy-to-understand grammatical explanations and practice exercises. It is important to emphasize to students repeatedly (especially at the beginning of the semester) to complete these online lessons before they come to the next class meeting as they will not only review at home what had been covered in the previous class, but will also learn new materials on their own at home which they need for the next in-class lesson. If they don’t complete the online lessons before they come to class, they will not be prepared to participate in the next in-class lesson.
Each online lesson has a link to a quiz to encourage students to work through the materials. These quizzes are housed on a different platform and are only accessible to students at the University of Alberta who are registered in our classes.
At the end of each unit, there is a list of the new vocabulary as a pdf for students to print out if they like. We recommend that students study the new vocabulary after each sub-topic in each unit, using the Quizlet vocabulary stacks that we provide. Students need to sign up for a free Quizlet account to access these stacks. Our username is germanuofa.
Most of the vocabulary teaching takes place in class. We follow the 5-step-technique explained below.
Presenting new vocabulary with the 5-step
Vocabulary at the beginning level is mostly taught in class with the presentation of slides with pictures and new words using the 5-step-technique (Tschirner, E., & Nikolai, B. 2017. Kontakte: A Communicative Approach, 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill). Each presentation features the same new vocabulary items on two slides: the first slide with the new words and the second slide with numbers replacing the words. You would continue projecting the e-textbook on the large screen in the classroom and the students would focus on that screen (not on their individual computer screens).
Step 1: Presentation
In the first step, you present the new words in context. You use very short connected sentences and emphasize each target word in that sentence while pointing to each item on the screen. Use clear pronunciation, pause after each sentence and use lots of repetition. Make sure you present all items. This step is intended to provide comprehensible input to the students.
For example, Unit 2.1 introduces the items in a classroom. For the presentation, you could start by saying something like: “Heute lernen wir die Gegenstände im Seminarraum. Das ist ein Bleistift. Der Bleistift ist gelb. Und das hier ist ein Radiergummi. Der Radiergummi ist rosa…”
To contextualize your sentences more, add things that students know already, such as colours. Students only listen and look at the images, but do not repeat in this step.
Step 2: Receptive Recall
In the second step, students are only asked to recognize the new vocabulary, but not yet to produce it. Students concentrate on recognizing a new word in the question you ask, using the number of the item to indicate that they know the meaning of the new word. We usually use numbers, but sometimes also names or categories in the question. You could ask either: “Welche Nummer ist der Beistift?” or “Ist der Bleistift Nummer 1 oder Nummer 4?” (giving students a choice) and students would respond with “1”. Again, it is important to go through all the items. This step strengthens the binding of the sound of the new word to its meaning.
Step 3: Choral Repetition
In the third step, students pronounce the new words for the first time. You point to each item and clearly pronounce the word; all students (as a class) then repeat after you. We model and focus on the correct pronunciation with all students together so that nobody gets singled out. This will prepare them to use the words productively in the next step. You would say: “der Bleistift” and the entire class would repeat: “der Bleistift”. Go through all items.
Step 4: Productive Recall
In the fourth step, you switch to the second slide which only has numbers next to the images, but no words. Now we elicit the new vocabulary and students have to produce them for the first time by saying the word when you point to each image. You would ask: “was ist das?” and students would say: “der Bleistift”. Go through all the items on the slide, but change up the order of the items so that students don’t memorize the items in order, but rather connect the image with a new word.
Step 5: Personalization
In the fifth step, we apply the new words to the students’ own situation. There are different ways of accomplishing this: list items, write down certain items, or answer questions. In our example from unit 2.1, you could ask: “wer hat einen Bleistift?” and students could respond by just holding up their pencils, thereby showing that they understand the question and know the new word. Or you could ask: “Was ist in diesem Seminarraum? Schreiben Sie alle Gegenstände auf, die Sie sehen.” Students would then write a list of all the things in the classroom that they learned new words for. Or you could take a more individualized approach and ask specific students which items they own or have in their backpack.
Willkommen: Deutsch für alle follows a task-based and communicative approach. Each unit features a task (oral or written) which provides students with the opportunity to use the language skills in a meaningful context and show what they have learned in the unit. These tasks are intended to replace more traditional assessments like unit exams or midterms and to prepare students for real-life language use so that they can function in a German-speaking context.
Assessment takes various forms in a beginning language class taught with this e-textbook. The suggested grade distribution in the first semester language course is as follows:
- Participation 10%
- Quizzes (after each online lesson) 20%
- Tasks 40%
- Oral Assessment 10%
- Written Final Assessment 20%
Participation assesses students’ preparation for class and active engagement during in-class lessons.
In a blended-learning model, it is paramount that students complete the online lessons on their own, reviewing previously taught materials as well as preparing for the next in-class lesson. By asking them to take a short quiz after each online class (for a total of 20% of the course grade), we want to encourage and motivate them to work through the online materials on their own so that they are well prepared for the next class.
Following a task-based approach, our assessments are designed to measure how well students perform a task by demonstrating their language skills and knowledge. We moved away from unit exams and midterms, and instead designed more comprehensive tasks in each unit that require students to make use of all the skills and knowledge they acquired to accomplish the task successfully. For each task, we also provide rubrics so that students know exactly what is expected of them and to help instructors to assess their students’ performance.
At the end of the term, university regulations require us to do a final assessment. We split it into an oral assessment (assessing speaking, listening, and interactive communicative skills) and a written assessment (assessing reading and writing skills) in a more holistic manner.
We hope that you will enjoy your teaching experience with Willkommen: Deutsch für alle!
Please note: Some instructors might teach with this e-textbook via remote delivery due to COVID-19. Therefore, they might change the instructions for activities for the in-class lessons to fit the remote environment.