Whether you’ve always worked with your students via a virtual platform or you’re embarking on a new e-learning adventure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to connect to students when they aren’t sitting in your classroom.
Teachers across the nation can’t deny that coronavirus has changed the way they teach and interact with their students. Google and other tech giants are expanding their offerings to help teachers create valuable learning experiences for their students, but it’s still a struggle to find teaching tools that are useful, practical and affordable.
When it comes to teaching a foreign language, so much in-person instruction is vital to the success of your students’ grasp of the language. So as a German teacher, how can you reach out to your students when you’re stuck teaching virtually?
Find Creative Ways to Use Existing Technology
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Even if you can’t meet as a class, there are still plenty of ways to immerse your class in German culture and architecture. With Google Tour Creator, you can compile a series of locations and pair them with valuable information about each spot on your virtual tour.
While there aren’t currently any preexisting tour templates based in Germany, you can custom-make your own tour to align with your lesson plan objectives. Check out a few existing templates here to get some ideas to get started, and then dive into creating your very own virtual field trip—for free!
Flipgrid is a free tool that teachers can use to engage with students in new and exciting ways and is a great resource for German language teachers. Create a topic and have students record their thoughts on your lesson or answer to your prompt in video form.
Your students can discover each other’s answers, comment their thoughts on their classmates’ videos, and practice their spoken and written German language skills as they engage with each other and with you.
Flipgrid is also a fantastic way for your students to get to know a little bit about one another in a virtual classroom setting.
World language teachers are making great use of Flipgrid for their students of all ages and speaking levels. Have students incorporate visuals for new vocabulary words or demonstrate German verbs, compare cultural traditions and oral histories, or share passages from their favorite German-language books.
There’s no limit to how you can engage with your students using Flipgrid, and even if there was, there are 25,000 ideas and lesson plans available through Flipgrid to help you come up with new ideas!
Establish German Pen Pals to Develop Writing Skills
There’s no better way to learn German than from someone who is German. Why not get your students excited about their studies by connecting with a student their age who speaks German and lives thousands of miles away?
There are so many benefits to communicating with a German-speaking pen pal:
Your students can talk about their interests in German and develop their language confidence.
They’ll learn the language in context from native speakers.
Your students can get corrections for bigger errors from a native German speaker.
They’ll pick up colloquialisms, nuanced phrases and modern slang from German students their own age.
Textbooks and formal classes sometimes leave out informal language. A German pen pal can share some of this language with your students, and they’ll be excited to learn the most current slang used by German kids their own age.
There are several sources to get your students connected to a German pen pal, but to ensure everyone’s safety, it’s a good idea to go through an educational pen-pal resource. You can try websites like PenPal Schools, which connects more than 150 million students around the globe, or check out this list of the best pen-pal websites to test out for yourself.
Tune Into the News
Older students can get to know more about the world around them by listening to the news in German—at a speaking pace at which they can keep up.
Build lesson plans around the News in Slow German podcast. Each week, there’s a new recording in which the two hosts review stories from Germany and around the world, with transcripts of each episode. It’s a fantastic way to immerse your students in German current events and brush up their listening skills at the same time.
You even can use existing News in Slow German podcasts to enhance your current lesson plans. There are podcast series on everything from the Brothers Grimm to Albert Einstein and German arts and culture. The best part? It’s all free!
Share a German Cartoon Series
Some German children’s cartoon series are available to stream for free online. This is a great way to immerse even beginning German speakers in the language and culture and get them excited about learning.
Sharing these series with your students isn’t just providing them with entertainment. Because many animated series are meant for young children, the sentences have simple structures that are easy for German learners to understand, and they get an opportunity to hear dialects and conversational German. Many educational cartoons are designed with children’s developmental stages in mind, making them perfect to share with your class.
Kinderbooks has compiled a list of stellar online cartoon streaming resources to share some entertainment (and education) with your German students. Many are available at no cost on YouTube, and some are available to share if you have an existing Amazon Prime account. Have your students respond to the show, share their thoughts or create their own episode after your viewing to boost the educational experience.
Another option? Encourage the parents of your students to share German-language books with their kids. Kinderbooks has a teacher affiliate program that makes it easy to share quality German language reading resources with students and parents while earning a commission too.
At Kinderbooks, we care about the success of your German students as much as you do. Check out our large selection of books, DVDs and educational materials to get the perfect idea for your next unit, and foster a love of German in your students with fun, interesting resources.