LaMa goes school

The group of pupils from GAT with their teacher T. Brede

Dear authors of the LaMa-Blog,

Introducing linguistic topics to 16-18 year old pupils seems to be a very challenging task: Terms and aspects like “Broca’s and Wernicke’s area”, “aphasia”, “prosodic features”, “discourse markers” or “ideological square” do not necessarily catch the attention of teenagers, so I was very curious how this project would work out.

And I must say, it was a sweeping success! Not so much that my pupils now know the specific function of the somatic sensory association area, or that there are four components of the Ideological Square (some might have forgotten these details by now), but that they have seen that there are interesting stories and small worlds behind these terms and concepts that are worthwhile exploring. By explaining these linguistic worlds in a comprehensible way and especially by connecting and linking them to the world of teenagers you succeeded in something that we as teachers are struggling with every day: You made them curious.

They wanted to investigate the subject matter further and learn more about it completely without the pressure of grades or exams. I think this was due to another, archaic, meanwhile obsolete, meaning of the word ‘curious’. This meaning aptly characterises the blog: namely that something is “made or prepared skilfully”, “done with painstaking accuracy and attention to detail” and “marked by intricacy or subtlety” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/curious).  A good selection of information on the manifold topics from the research discipline Applied Linguistics, various easy-to-understand definitions, figures, images, links to YouTube videos, connections to popular culture, to music, films, Hollywood or Instagram, different do-it-yourself-tests and many more useful ties to the world of the pupils made it very easy to become intrigued by linguistics.

The whole setup of the project was very motivating. The fact that the pupils were actively involved in the creation of the blog posts as test readers by providing feedback to earlier drafts of the texts was a very inspiring task, and the pupils were very eager to make their contributions.

Students chat with the pupils from GAT during the blog presentation on 8 February 2017

The invitation to the University of Bonn was a highlight of the school year. The pupils were able to get a real taste of university life. Some actually got interested in the study of linguistics and shared contact information (their Instagram account) with the students. And, having read a post about Internet language they now even know that the app’s name ‘Instagram’ consists of a combination of parts of two words, ‘Instant camera’ and ‘telegram’, and that this is called a ‘blend’ in linguistics.

So thank you again to the students and the creators of the blog, to my pupils, the BAEL-team and Pawel Sickinger and of course to Dr. Stefanie Pohle for her commitment and for inviting us to the university.

Timo Brede

 

Picture credits:
All pictures by BAEL staff.

 


Timo Brede teaches English, Pedagogics and PE at the Gymnasium Zum Altenforst in Troisdorf. He holds a State Examination degree from the University of Cologne and also studied at the University of Sydney.

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