German lesson

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Popular school literature in German lessons: Faust , scene in front of Auerbach's cellar in Leipzig , sculpture by Mathieu Molitor

The German lessons serve to develop reading , writing , speaking and listening skills in the German language . At a higher level, he traditionally intends to develop the ability to understand German-language literature as well as world literature translated into German (literary education or literary competence), as well as the ability to independently write coherent and argumentatively coherent texts (writing skills).

"German lessons convey competencies related to the German language, literature and other media at educational institutions in which German is an official or at least the common and common language of instruction." However, a large number of forms of teaching are summarized under the designation "German lessons", which can differ significantly in terms of their learning objectives and their didactic concepts. What is meant by "German lessons" depends, among other things, on the target group the lessons are aimed at. Traditionally, the distinction between mother tongue and foreign language German lessons is fundamental to goals and methods . With regard to learners of non-German mother tongues, the distinction between the first and second language German is currently very important.

Native-speaking German lessons

The preschool, mother tongue German lessons

Simple exercises for learning the German language are carried out with the children even before they start school. This includes, for example, phonological awareness .

This includes the following educational games and exercises:

These and other important aspects are trained both in pre-school and in the first grade.

School-based mother tongue German lessons in German-speaking countries


Elementary writing lessons have been taking place in Germany since the 1980s in accordance with Hans Brügelmann's work Children on the Path to Writing (1983).

In addition to basic knowledge ( grammar ) and basic skills such as reading, writing and speaking in German, many schools in the higher grades also provide an insight into German literature , rhetorical skills, knowledge of different types of text or text types , text analysis and text interpretation . The ability to deal with other topics and problems in conversation and discussion is also conveyed, as well as the ability to convey content and relationships to the audience in a target-oriented manner (giving presentations ). Emphasizing media aspects of this ability, one speaks in this context of “presentation skills”.

Work with literary texts

In the higher grades, especially in the upper grades , the focus of German lessons is traditionally on working with literary texts, in particular their interpretation in terms of hermeneutics . In the German lessons at school, as well as in corresponding university courses, many different literary schools and directions can be presented, such as New Criticism , Deconstructivism , Structuralism , Poststructuralism , Reception aesthetics , work-immanent interpretation , literary sociology and Marxist literary theory .

Criticism of traditional German lessons

The strongest criticism of the practice of placing text interpretation at the center of school (as well as university) literature studies was made by the literary theorist Siegfried J. Schmidt . Schmidt particularly objects to the eclectic use of literary methods, which in his opinion form a plurality without a theoretically founded system. Literary scholars and teachers can only arbitrarily pick out what seems appropriate from this “method review”. Since none of the common methods is oriented towards intersubjectivity and rational argumentation, power and knowledge - for example in exams - come dangerously close. The expert claim with which literary scholars make statements about "literary texts" and their relationship to aspects of society means that such statements occasionally gain considerable social relevance (cf., for example, the role of German studies in National Socialism). Schmidt suspects that the literary interpretation (as the determination of the correct meaning of the text), as it is cultivated in schools and universities, should primarily be classified as a trace of academic qualifications and self-assertion attitudes. In particular, it does not support the acquisition of knowledge that can be useful beyond literary studies, nor does it train any other ability than that of interpreting literary texts.

Realignment of German classes since 2001


Particularly as a result of the pressure of the results of the first PISA study published in 2001, the goals and priorities of the framework curricula were realigned in German: The weaknesses in reading proficiency revealed by PISA, IGLU (PIRLS) and comparable studies lead to a devaluation of formal education and an emphasis functional education. The curriculum / education plans of all federal states today provide for the promotion of “competencies” as a central element of German teaching and German didactics, supported by the national educational standards of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education (KMK). This sets completely different accents than the previous idea that formal skills such as grammar and spelling as well as specialist knowledge (e.g. about the history of literature) must be important subjects of the lesson - these are not removed from the lessons, but embedded in competence areas and in to convey a lesson that promotes the ability to solve problems independently and that follows a new "task culture" (Juliane Köster). In literature lessons this goes hand in hand with a variety of action, production and project-oriented procedures (rewriting, staging, adapting texts etc.), in writing lessons with the increasingly important development of topics and problems through "material-based tasks". The media are of great importance today - from new developments in the “old” print media (e.g. graphic novels) to audiovisual and digital media.


Competencies are therefore:

  • developed by the learner himself and usable constructively,
  • In contrast to declarative knowledge, it cannot be developed or acquired in the short term, but only in longer-lasting learning processes,
  • transferable so that the competencies are shown in activities that students carry out on new texts or problems,
  • Area-specific distributed to the domains of reading, writing, communication and reflection on language (in didactics these areas of competence are referred to as "the 4 pillars of German lessons", according to Heiner Willenberg and others),
  • provided with content aspects of the respective domain; competence therefore includes a canon of knowledge that includes knowledge of facts, rules, laws and definitions.

So that students can develop skills , they have to act more independently in the learning process. So-called learning strategies are taught and practiced (especially in spelling and reading lessons), and student activity is gaining in importance overall.

Native-speaking German lessons in non-German-speaking areas

In non-German-speaking areas, German native speakers, e.g. B. Migrant children, mostly no German lessons in public schools. That is why there are German schools abroad in many countries . The network of German schools abroad is particularly dense. a. in Spain, where a total of 6,383 children are educated at 11 locations.

Since most of the German native speakers growing up in non-German-speaking countries do not have a German school at their place of residence, many of these children learn German reading and writing through home or distance learning . Fee-based distance learning courses in German may a. offered by the German Distance Learning School in Wetzlar and the ILS in Hamburg.

Foreign language German lessons

Foreign language German lessons at school and lessons in “German as a second language” in German-speaking countries

German as a Foreign Language (DaF) is taught in and outside of the German-speaking countries. DaF lessons take place not only in public and general schools, but also in private schools or universities. This is to be distinguished from teaching in German as a second language (DaZ), an increasingly important area of ​​general education: children and young people with a migration history who were socialized in one (in their often non-monolingual countries of origin, often also with two) other language (s), are initially trained with little knowledge of German, which often results in classes with learners of very heterogeneous linguistic origins and skills. DaZ lessons need didactic concepts that take this fact into account and cannot (like DaF lessons) require a certain level of competence or classify the learners according to language level.

Foreign language German lessons in non-German-speaking areas

United States

In the United States , German is usually not taught as a foreign language until high school . H. in grades 9–12, taught. 38% of all public high schools offer this subject. After Spanish and French , German is the third most widely taught foreign language at US high schools.

German is also one of the most popular foreign languages ​​at US universities. The number of students attending such a course is currently around 94,260.


Teaching practice
  • Florian Bär: Values ​​education in German lessons. Didactic basics and concepts. (= Pedagogical and Didactic Writings. Volume 16). Edition Ruprecht, Göttingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-8469-0328-5 .
  • Jürgen Baurmann, Tilman von Brand, Wolfgang Menzel, Kaspar H. Spinner: Methods in German Classes. Exemplary learning paths for secondary level I and II. Klett Kallmeyer, Velber 2016, ISBN 978-3-7800-4832-5 .
  • Klaus-Michael Bogdal , Kai Kauffmann, Georg Mein (with the assistance of Meinolf Schumacher and Johannes Volmert): BA in German studies. A textbook . (= Rowohlt's Encyclopedia. 55682). Rowohlt, Reinbek 2008, ISBN 978-3-499-55682-1 .
  • Christa Bürger : German Lessons - Ideology or Enlightenment. Diesterweg, Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-425-01614-8 .
  • Christa Bürger: Text analysis as a critique of ideology. For the reception of contemporary entertainment literature. Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-7610-0350-1 .
  • Felmuth Feilke, Kathrin Lehnen, Sara Rezat, Michael Steinmetz: Learning material-based writing: Basics - Tasks - Materials: Secondary levels I and II. Schroedel, Hannover 2016, ISBN 978-3-507-41750-2 .
  • Volker Frederking , Axel Krommer, Klaus Maiwald: Mediendidaktik German: An introduction. 2nd updated edition. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-503-13722-0 .
  • Charis Goer, Katharina Köller (Ed.): Fachdidaktik Deutsch. Basics of language and literature didactics. (= UTB. Volume 4171). Fink, Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3-8252-4171-1 .
  • Christiane Hochstadt, Andreas Krafft, Ralph Olsen: German Didactics. Concepts for practice. A. Francke Verlag, Tübingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-4023-3 .
  • Matthis Kepser, Ulf Abraham : Literature didactics German. An introduction. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-503-16787-6 .
  • Ralph Köhnen (ed.): Paths to culture. Perspectives for an integrative German lesson. German Studies Day for German teachers in Bochum from September 29 to October 2, 1996. Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-631-32675-0 .
  • Juliane Köster: Tasks in German lessons: effective learning opportunities and success checks. Klett / Kallmeyer, Velber 2015.
  • Günter Lange, Swantje Weinhold (Ed.): Basics of German Didactics: Language Didactics - Media Didactics - Literature Didactics. Schneider Verlag Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2010, ISBN 978-3-8340-0693-6 .
  • Bodo Lecke: Literature of the German Classic. Reception and effect. (= Medium literature. 13). Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1981, ISBN 3-494-01051-X .
  • Wolfgang Steinig, Hans-Werner Huneke: Language Didactics German: An Introduction. 5th updated edition. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-503-15587-3 .
History of German Lessons
  • Horst Joachim Frank : History of German Lessons. From the beginning to 1945. dtv, Munich 1976/77, ISBN 3-446-11736-9 (2 volumes).
  • Carl Kehr : History of Reading Lessons. In: ders .: History of German teaching in elementary schools. (= History of the methodology of German teaching. Volume 1). Thienemann, Gotha 1889.
  • Martina G. Lüke: Between tradition and new beginnings. German lessons and reading books in the German Empire. (= Contributions to the history of German lessons. 60). Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-631-56408-0 .
  • Adolf Matthias: History of German Lessons. (= Handbook of German Teaching in Higher Schools. 1.1 ). Beck Verlag, Munich 1907.

Web links

Wiktionary: German lessons  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Matthis Kepser, Ulf Abraham : Literaturdidaktik Deutsch. An introduction. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-503-16787-6 , p. 12.
  2. For an overview of the methodological possibilities of German teaching in general schools cf. z. B. Baurmann, von Brand, Menzel, Spinner 2015.
  3. Oliver Hollenstein: Spell blockade. In: The time . October 17, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017 .
  4. Helmut Hauptmeier, Siegfried J. Schmidt: Introduction to Empirical Literary Studies. Vieweg, 1985, ISBN 3-528-08597-5 , pp. 1-5, 124-126.
  5. ^ Siegfried J. Schmidt: Outline of empirical literary studies. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1991, ISBN 978-3-518-28515-2 , p. 25.
  6. cf. a. Köster 2015.
  7. See e.g. B. Feilke / Lehnen / Rezat / Steinmetz 2016.
  8. cf. a. Frederking / Krommer / Maiwald 2012.
  9. ^ Katja Ridderbusch: The Big Slump. ( Memento from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: The Atlantic Times . December 2007.
  10. 10 Most Popular Foreign Languages ​​in the US ( Memento from February 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive )