Building bridges with German at the 2018 ACTFL conference

German language education and New Orleans? Wunderbar together!
The German Embassy and German language education community in North America was well represented at the 2018 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Annual Convention and World Languages Expo in Louisiana.

Of the 8,000 ACTFL convention attendees, around 400 are members of the German language education community. These include members of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), as well as representatives of the Mexican and Canadian partner organizations; representatives of the Goethe-Institut in the U.S. and Germany; international scholars of German language pedagogy; and German government representatives, among others. Such a large-scale gathering of DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache—German as a foreign language) devotees ensures a lively discussion of the pressing issues in the field.

The question of how to attract impassioned educators of German was addressed in the international symposium “Best Practices für die Anwerbung von neuen Deutschlehrenden“. With around 80 participants from DaF associations from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany and Austria, the symposium aimed to develop constructive transatlantic approaches for ameliorating the shortage of German language educators in North America.

Vera Beutin of the German Embassy Washington’s Cultural Section opened the symposium by thanking the AATG and symposium participants for their committed engagement of behalf of the German language. Promotion of German is a major aim of the German government’s Cultural Relations and Education Policy, and significant investments are being made in this area, she said.

Promoting German in the U.S. is not only important for the sake of the language itself—fascinating as its study may be. Rather, the German language is seen as a means for building bridges with other cultures, expanding perspectives, and leading to strengthened relations between Germany and the United States.

This is also the idea behind the German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award, which was again presented to three outstanding German teachers from across the U.S. during the ACTFL conference. In addition to attending the conference, awardees receive a professional development trip to Germany to network with other educators and gain new inspiration for their teaching practice at home.

The current “Wunderbar Together” initiative is creating a great number of special opportunities to engage with German throughout the United States. The symposium, under the heading “Mit Deutsch in die Zukunft (MiDeZu)” (“With German into the Future“) is itself part of the campaign. Other projects include an online German film offering; Career Booster events across the U.S.; and a “wanderbUS” which will visit high schools and universities in every state within the continental U.S., generating enthusiasm for German.

Follow @wunderbartogether to learn more!

By Jacob Comenetz, German Embassy

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