What do you most enjoy teaching?
Mrs Wilson. I love teaching about festivals! They tell us so much about the way of life in German speaking countries and we also learn about the historical and economical importance of these celebrations on society.
Mrs Andrews. My favourite topic is teaching 20th century German history, the fall of the Berlin Wall and how Germany works to acknowledge its fascinating past. And I love introducing the wonders of German grammar! It’s such an intriguingly logical language and I’m a grammar freak!
Mr Kirk. I particularly enjoy exploring the social and historical context of immigration to the German-speaking countries, from the 19th century right up to present day events. Germany wouldn’t be the country it is today without its long history of migration, and issues surrounding immigration continue to lead political and social discourse in both Austria and Switzerland.
What are the differences between German at GCSE and A Level?
There are some new topics and some familiar ones. Grammar goes from the very basics to degree level. The A Level exam has 3 papers, an oral, a reading, listening and translation paper and an essay paper. In the reading listening and writing exam you have control of the listening so you can play the recording as many time as you like. The essay paper is based on a film, ‘die Welle’ and a book called ‘der Vorleser. Both deal with Germany’s legacy of dictatorship. You will also have a weekly lesson on top of your teacher lessons with our language assistant to practise speaking.
Can you give us a quick summary of each of the units of work you do?
Mrs Wilson: With Mrs Wilson you will learn about festivals and celebrations, art and architecture in German speaking countries and also education and the world of work.
Mrs Andrews: With Mrs Andrews you will have weekly grammar lessons. In Year 12 you will also cover the German family life topic and in Year 13 the theme which makes up 25% of the A Level content: understanding modern Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Mr Kirk: With Mr Kirk you will be introduced to the social issues and trends relating to young people in German-speaking society. In Year 12 we look at family and citizenship, and youth trends and personal identity. In Year 13 we look at the issues of immigration, integration and racism in German-speaking society.
I’m sure your subject will suit lots of different ‘types’ of student, but are there any characteristics that you think can be useful?
We like resilient people who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. We like brave people who are willing to speak their minds, to open themselves up to new experiences. People who value communication skills thrive learning a foreign language.
Do you have examples of what previous students have gone on to do in your subject?
Many of our students continue their language study at University. You can study a language on its own, with another language (universities also offer beginner language courses) and also often with a wide range of other subjects (German and English, German and Sociology, German and Business and even German and Maths!)
Fran studied French and German at Highfields, eventually going to St Andrews to study French, German and Russian. On graduation she became interested in Spanish and took herself off to Columbia to learn the language. Apart from languages Fran’s other passion was motorsport. She now uses her languages to interview riders and team bosses in World Superbike for the official World SBK website and lives in Spain.
Barney studied A Level German. “Doing German A Level was really useful for my gap year. I spent 2 months in Germany volunteering and 5 months in Austria doing a ski season. My German had improved so much since GCSE and made it much easier to immerse myself into local culture and meet new people. At 16 in my summer job in a German restaurant I got demoted from Flammkuchen chef to pot washer on my first day because I didn’t have the language skills! After A Level I was able to communicate with local authorities about ski chalet management.”
Comments from some current students:
Millie: I really like that we get to learn German grammar in more depth as it really helps improve our fluency and we understand the language so much better!
Alex: I find that German really helps me understand my other subjects; they all link together really well. My favourite part of German has been studying the book ‘Der Vorleser’ (studied in Year 13). It is an amazing novel that is so interesting!
Josie: The A-Level topics are much more interesting than GCSE. They’re not just about teaching you how to talk about the topics, you also learn a lot about Germany’s culture, past and traditions.
Some links to click on:
This link leads to the EDUQAS page with the specification, past papers and an overview of the qualification.
In class, we encourage independent learning. There are a wealth of free websites to support you with your wider reading/listening and grammar!
https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097 – a fantastic news site with ‘slow news’ and videos with worksheets on current topics.
https://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar.html – a brilliant free website which provides support with the intricacies of German grammar
https://www.deutsch-perfekt.com/ – Check out the library for ‘Deutsch Perfekt.’ A magazine subscription for advanced learners of German.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tebT3lKmyQ – Should you wish to find out more about studying languages beyond A-Level, check out some of the virtual open days available. This is a link to a video for studying languages at Cambridge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgf6WlBgZAQ – A short video by The University of Sheffield about the value of studying abroad.