Foreign language teaching

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Types of second language acquisition

Foreign language teaching describes the teaching and learning of a language that does not belong to the mother tongue (s) in educational institutions or in private lessons.

Teaching methods

In the course of its history, foreign language teaching has produced the following central methodological concepts (chronological order) (see also the history of methods of foreign language teaching and foreign language didactics ):

Grammar translation method

The grammar translation method (GÜM) comes from ancient language teaching, in which it is the predominant teaching method. Until the end of the 19th century, it was the method used in grammar schools, secondary schools and universities - no foreign languages ​​were taught in other types of schools. In addition to the mere learning of the foreign language according to the neo-humanist educational ideal of the time, it aimed to provide general mental training for learners.

The texts of the lessons made use of the high-cultural repertoire of the target language. In addition to literary texts, this also includes narrative texts about important personalities in art, literature and politics.

The primary and exclusive language of instruction at GÜM is the mother tongue. The spoken target language does not matter. Instead, only the written language is practiced. It starts with learning the entire grammar according to a set curriculum . This is done through translations and especially with the help of exercise sentences (gap sentences) that are tailored to the respective grammatical lesson. After learning the grammar, target-language (literary) texts are read and translated.

The learning theory background is a strong cognitive orientation. The main advantage of the GÜM is the good cognitive penetration of the material and the good teaching of grammar and written language skills. On the other hand, the ability to speak is not practiced because of the neglect of communication with people. Historically, in a debate about the orientation of foreign language teaching since the beginning of the 1880s, this led to the replacement of the GÜM by other methods ( Viëtors "Direct Method" and successively its successor), since the increasingly outward-oriented German Empire in the imperialist age urgently needed competent people Speakers of new languages ​​developed and GÜM showed itself inferior in this.

Behavioral Methods

Example of a language learning method based on everyday situations: LAMP method .

Among the behavioral methods include Audiolinguale method and the audio-visual method. The content mostly consists of dialogues about everyday situations. The language level is the spoken, the dialogue language, whereby monolingualism always prevails. The exercises include sentence pattern exercises (pattern drills) and situation games.

  • Advantages: The language structures are automated. The audio-lingual method is extremely efficient when learning foreign languages ​​with demanding pronunciation (e.g. standard Chinese ).
  • Disadvantages: learning can be perceived as boring; this is especially true if the student cannot control the learning pace individually. If the written language is also to be acquired, the audio-lingual method must be supplemented by other methods.

Communicative methods

In Germany, it was initiated by the foreign language didactic specialist Hans-Eberhard Piepho (see communicative turnaround ). The textual content of this method is intended to reveal conflicts that stimulate the language students to make personal statements. Language production takes precedence over language correctness, errors are accepted. During the exercises, the learner is asked to express his or her opinion.

  • Advantage: The learners gain speaking skills and the fear of making mistakes is reduced.
  • Disadvantage: the quality of the language is neglected; communicative competence quickly reaches its limits.

Constructivist principles

Here the self-active “learning” of the pupils is in the foreground, not the teacher's “instruction”. That means, the task of the teacher is not to “teach” but to enable and facilitate “learning”. (See more detailed learning orientation (foreign language teaching ) .) The teaching is action-oriented and the content is close to the student's reality. They should stimulate the student to teach themselves knowledge (for example in the context of projects). The language level is as broad as possible. Variations are accepted. Speech production is the focus of the exercises.

  • Advantage: preparation for the real world.
  • Disadvantage: There have not yet been any disadvantages.

Learning by teaching

Use of LdL in language lessons: Pupil introduces new vocabulary
  • Learning through teaching (LdL) is a teaching method that is particularly widespread in Germany ( Jean-Pol Martin , Joachim Grzega ), which can be practiced in all subjects, but is particularly suitable for foreign languageteaching. Here the students teach each other the subject matter. In addition, the learner group is metaphorically transformed into a neural network that conveys information in the context of intensive interactions. For Nieweler, the editor of the Handbook on French Didactics (2006), LdL is “a radical form of student and action orientation”. In this respect, LdL realizes the paradigm shift widely demanded in societyfrom instruction to common action orientation. This paradigm shift is characterized by the following structures and features:
Intensive interactions between the learners create a network with corresponding network effects ( reaction threshold , resonance , redundancy ). As part of these interactions, information is refined into knowledge by permanently selecting relevant information from irrelevant information and forwarding it to the next higher level for processing. Emergences emerge from these interactions and work is action-oriented. While one has to do with linearity a priori in the instructionist model , with LdL linearity arises a posteriori . The main principle is resource orientation . Important in this context is that the classroom discourse that takes place in great concentration thus recognized all information and processed ( attention economy, reaction threshold ).

Current developments

The newer curricula and teaching materials show an emphasis on the following aspects:

  • Reinforcement of the importance of oral performance (in Bavaria, one school task per year of study must be designed as an oral examination)
  • Learner autonomy : The teaching materials should give the learner the opportunity to deepen and expand their knowledge without the support of the teacher. The learners are addressed directly in the textbooks and they receive advice on pronunciation training, vocabulary acquisition (word cards, memory exercises), reading and listening comprehension.
  • Self-evaluation and lifelong learning: The textbooks contain self-evaluation sheets in order to get the learners used to managing their learning process more and more independently. Furthermore portfolio introduced that encourage the learner to keep records of their learning achievements and objectives book.
  • Further changes in the conception of foreign language teaching at school, which are being pursued particularly in the wake of the two PISA studies ( Program for International Student Assessment ) from 2001 and 2003, can be identified in the terms educational standards and standard orientation.

Further lesson arrangements

Bilingual teaching

In some countries, classes are held entirely in the language being learned. Since the 1960s and 1970s, bilingual schools for particularly good students have been established in Central and Eastern Europe (including Germany). Apart from languages, every subject was taught in the foreign language. From the 1990s this system was opened to everyone, although in some countries students still have to pass entrance tests. At the same time, Belgium (French part), France, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland also set up bilingual schools.


  • CALL : Computer Assisted Language Learning - Computer Assisted Language Learning
  • DAF : German as a foreign language
  • DAZ : German as a second language
  • DALF : Diplôme approfondi de langue française - French language diploma (level II)
  • DELE : Diploma de español como lengua extranjera - Diploma for learning Spanish as a second language []
  • DELF : Diplôme d'études en langue française - French language diploma (level I)
  • DSH : German language test for university entrance - language test for foreign language applicants in Germany
  • EAL : English as Additional Language - English as an additional language. Applies if someone wants to learn English in an English-speaking area.
  • EFL : English as Foreign Language - English as a Foreign Language
  • ELT : English Language Teaching - English language teaching
  • ESL : English as a Second Language - English as a Second Language
  • LDL : Learning by Teaching - Constructivist Teaching Method
  • ÖSD : Austrian Language Diploma for German - International Language Exams for DaF
  • SLA : Second Language Acquisition - acquiring a second language
  • TEFL : Teaching English as Foreign Language - teaching English as a foreign language
  • TELL : Technology-Enhanced Language Learning - technology-supported language learning
  • TOEFL : Test of English as a Foreign Language - Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • TOEIC : Test of English in International Communication - Test of English in International Communication.
  • HSK : Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi - Chinese for foreigners.
  • TOPIK : Test of Proficiency in Korean .

Situation in individual countries

European Union

In 1995 the European Commission published in the White Paper Teaching and Learning - Towards a Cognitive Society the recommendation that every student should be trained in two languages ​​of the Union. At the Lisbon Summit in 2000 , command of (foreign) languages ​​was seen as one of five key skills.

In fact, foreign language teaching has been compulsory in all member states of the European Community (apart from Ireland and the United Kingdom , apart from Scotland) since 1974 . Since 1998 almost all children in the member states have been learning at least one foreign language. In Ireland, in addition to English , Irish (Irish Gaelic) is also taught in lessons, which is also a foreign language for the vast majority of students, as it is only spoken by a small, regional minority in the country in everyday life. Outside of Ireland, Irish is hardly spoken at all. At least two foreign languages ​​are compulsory taught in Belgium (Flemish part), Denmark , Estonia , Finland , Latvia , Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Sweden , Slovenia , Slovakia and the Republic of Cyprus .

On average in Europe, European children learn foreign languages ​​three to four hours a week. Normally, schools start language training at the end of elementary or primary school, but in Malta , Luxembourg and Norway and in some German federal states it is already from the first grade.

English is the most common foreign language in the EU. 93% of all children learn it, mostly at the beginning of secondary schools; This number is even higher in upper secondary level .

French is taught to 33% of all children in the EU from lower secondary level, with the exception of Slovenia. At upper secondary level this number falls to 28%.

German is also taught in almost all EU countries. Around 13% of all pupils in the EU learn German as a foreign language in secondary level I, around 20% in secondary level II.

Despite the large number of courses on offer in schools, fewer adults generally speak a foreign language than would be expected. This is particularly true of residents of the UK: a 2004 survey showed that only 1 in 10 British workers could speak a foreign language, and only about 5% of all respondents could count to 20 in any foreign language. However, 80% said that they could work abroad, since everyone spoke English. An older survey by the European Commission ( 2001 ) showed that 65.9% of UK residents were only able to communicate in their mother tongue.


After the grammar school in Germany had emerged from the Latin school by 1834 , the foreign language sequence Latin , ancient Greek and, as a third foreign language, French emerged in its curriculum . In seminary schools , which were supposed to prepare their students for the priestly career, Hebrew replaced French. In the decades up to 1900, in which the Realgymnasium and the Oberrealschule emerged as types of schools leading to the Abitur, these types of schools turned to spoken languages. Latin, English and French were taught in the Realgymnasium. The upper secondary schools taught the students English and French. The missing third foreign language was compensated for by a higher mathematical and scientific focus. From 1964 onwards, as a result of the Hamburg Agreement, English was taught in the newly formed secondary schools from the 5th grade. In some German states, a foreign language was already part of the curriculum at elementary schools. In Hamburg z. For example, English has been compulsory for all primary school students since 1870.

Until the 1990s, the first foreign language (mainly English) was taught in German schools from the fifth grade. Only the Saarland offered French lessons from the third grade onwards. In Saxony there has been a one-hour foreign language course from the third grade onwards since 1995. In the school year 1998/99 the introduction of English lessons from the third grade onwards began in Hamburg . Since the 2004/05 school year, English lessons have been offered nationwide in primary schools in all federal states.

French and Italian are offered in nine out of 16 federal states . In Baden-Württemberg , French lessons are compulsory along the border with France; in the rest of the country, English lessons are compulsory from the first grade. There is a new trend towards learning Spanish as a second foreign language : while the number of learners in French is falling, the number of students studying Spanish is increasing. In Hamburg, for example, 34% of students learned Spanish and 42% French in 2010. In 2018, the tide turned in Hamburg in favor of Spanish. While the demand for student exchanges with the neighboring country is falling, there is a shortage of Spanish teachers.

In Schleswig-Holstein there are partly Danish lessons , in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia Dutch lessons , in Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Polish lessons take place near the border . Berlin also has some offers in this language. In Thuringia, Russian is offered as the first foreign language in some schools .


During the monarchy , a living foreign language was taught for the first time in the secondary schools established in 1805 ; this was a language of a common trading partner. It was often the case that secondary schools in the crown lands were run as German schools, which meant that the language of instruction was already a foreign language for pupils whose mother tongue was not German. Occasionally there were also secondary schools with the respective national language as the language of instruction, where German lessons were always given within the framework of the living foreign language. The secondary school system was expanded in 1849 and foreign language teaching consolidated. In the grammar school, on the other hand, Latin and Greek were taught, but no living foreign language. With the collapse of the monarchy, one of the languages ​​of a trading partner continued to be taught in secondary schools, mostly Italian or Czech, but also Latin or later French and occasionally also English. It was not until the National Socialist era that English was introduced as a compulsory subject. English was also taught in the upper level of the grammar school, while Latin and Greek continued to predominate in the lower level.

After the Second World War, English and / or the language of the occupying power was taught as a foreign language, and after 1955, English became a compulsory subject from the 5th grade of the Hauptschule (A-Zug), the Realgymnasien and the Gymnasien. The second language was Latin.

Today in Austria, teaching the living foreign language begins in elementary school , where a mandatory exercise (without grading) is compulsory from the first grade. 98% of the teaching is English, but it can also be French, Italian, Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian, Czech, or Hungarian. In the secondary level ( New Middle School or Gymnasium), English as the “first living foreign language” becomes a school subject. Depending on the focus, another language can be chosen in the 7th grade (3rd grade) or compulsory in the 9th grade (5th grade ). In Austria, Latin was traditionally chosen, but it is increasingly being displaced by French or, more recently, by Spanish or Italian, although various combinations are possible depending on the school. In only a few schools you can choose Latin from grade 7 and Ancient Greek from grade 9.

United States

In the United States, foreign languages ​​are used in schools (especially middle schools and high schools ), colleges and other institutions such as B. Taught cultural centers. While foreign language programs are still the exception in public primary schools, they are increasingly part of the offer in private day care centers (especially Spanish ).

Commercial language learning programs for home use are also very popular in the USA, such as the Pimsleur system based on audio CDs or the learning software from Rosetta Stone and Rocket Languages .


In Poland, a foreign language is compulsory from the 4th grade, usually English. In the 2008/2009 school year, 83% of Polish primary school students and 79% of Polish secondary school students learned English. In secondary schools (e.g. Liceum), 95% of students choose English as their first foreign language. German follows in second place, although interest has declined since 2005. In 2010, over 60% of the students learned German. While German is being learned more and more in the west, Russian is more likely to find interested parties in the east of Poland. The importance of Russian has declined sharply since it was abolished as a compulsory first language in 1991. About 10.1% of schools offer Russian as a foreign language. French is offered by 6.2% of schools.


In France, English is mostly taught as a first foreign language. In border regions, the language of the neighboring country can also be the first foreign language. Foreign language lessons begin in the college . The basics of the second foreign language are also taught there before they are deepened in the Lycée . The second foreign language is mostly Spanish (44.2 percent), followed by German (15.3 percent), Latin and Italian. Third foreign languages ​​can also be learned at the Lycée. There is also the opportunity to study the first or second foreign language in more depth. For this purpose, intensive courses with an oral focus are offered ( e.g. so-called Anglais Renforcé ). It should be noted, however, that in France Latin is not seen as a foreign language, but (because French is derived from Latin and Latin is dead) as a special form and is therefore not included.


In China, English is the first foreign language in elementary school. Other languages ​​such as German and Japanese will follow later. Students have to take many exams:

abbreviation Chinese translation
TOEFL Tuofu 托福
IELTS Yasi 雅思
TestDaf Defu 德福

Presentation of the exams in Chinese: 中国 国内 主要 英语 考试 分类

See also


  • Rüdiger Ahrens , Wolf-Dietrich Bald, Werner Hüllen : Handbuch Englisch als Fremdsprache (HEF) , Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-503-03067-0 .
  • Gerhard Bach , Johannes-Peter Timm (Ed.): English lessons. Basics and methods of action-oriented teaching practice . 5th updated edition. Francke (UTB), Tübingen and Basel 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-4037-0 .
  • Karl-Richard Bausch, Herbert Christ, Hans-Jürgen Krumm (eds.): Handbook of foreign language teaching . 5th, unchanged. Edition. Francke (UTB), Tübingen and Basel 2007, ISBN 3-8252-8043-8 .
  • Barbara Buchholz: Facts & Figures in Primary School English: an investigation of the compulsory foreign language teaching from the first grade at Austrian elementary schools , Vienna: Lit-Verl., 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0344-5 .
  • Wolfgang Butzkamm : Psycholinguistics of foreign language teaching. From mother tongue to foreign language . 3. Edition. Francke (UTB), Tübingen and Basel 2002, ISBN 3-8252-1505-9 (Germany), ISBN 978-3-7000-0654-1 (Austria).
  • Inez De Florio-Hansen : Teaching and Learning English in the Digital Age , Waxmann (UTB.), Münster / New York 2018, ISBN 978-3-8252-4954-0 .
  • Inez De Florio-Hansen: French lessons for practice , Narr (narr practice books), Tübingen 2017, ISBN 978-3-8233-8008-5 .
  • Inez De Florio-Hansen: Teaching units English for practice , Narr (narr praxis books), Tübingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-8233-9007-7 .
  • Inez De Florio-Hansen: Making foreign language teaching effective. With examples for English, French and Spanish , Narr (narr study books), Tübingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-8233-6870-0 .
  • Udo OH Jung (Ed.): Practical guide for foreign language teachers . (= Bayreuth Contributions to Glottodidactics; Vol. 2). 4th edition. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2006, ISBN 978-3-631-54251-4 .
  • Reiner Lehberger : "Collect all the English inscriptions you can find in our city". English lessons at primary schools in Hamburg 1870–1945 . (= Augsburger I & I-Schriften; Vol. 54 / Hamburg series of publications on school and teaching history; Vol. 3). Curio, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-923549-36-9 .
  • Jean-Pol Martin : Proposal of an anthropologically based curriculum for foreign language teaching. Gunter Narr, Tübingen 1994, ISBN 3-8233-4373-4 .
  • Heiner Pürschel, Thomas Tinnefeld (Hrsg.): Modern foreign language teaching between interculturality and multimedia. Reflections from science and practice . (= Foreign languages ​​in teaching and research [FLF]; 38). AKS, Bochum 2005, ISBN 3-925453-46-6 .
  • Johannes-Peter Timm (Ed.): Learning and teaching English. Didactics of English Lessons . Cornelsen, Berlin 1998 (8th printing 2011), ISBN 978-3-464-00619-1 .
  • Military regulation H.Dv. 27 Regulations for language teaching in the Army 1938, ISBN 978-3750480896

Web links

Wiktionary: Foreign language teaching  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Andreas Nieweler (Ed.): French Didactics - Tradition | Innovation | Practice . Klett, Stuttgart 2006, p. 318
  2. COM (95) 590 final (PDF)
  3. Law on Education of November 11, 1870, § 32: The subjects of instruction in public elementary schools are: Religion, German language, reading, writing, arithmetic, geometry and algebra, geography, history, natural history, physics, chemistry, English, Drawing, singing and gymnastics ( online in Google Book Search)
  4. ^ Andreas Dey and Marc Hasse: Foreign languages ​​at school: Spanish overtakes French. July 16, 2018, accessed April 30, 2020 (German).
  5. Jan Friedmann: Shakira beats Jacques Brel. , DER SPIEGEL, September 12, 2011 , accessed September 15, 2011
  6. Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 19, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Sonja Steier, A Balance Sheet of Polish School Policy since 1989 in Poland Analyzes, No. 76, October 5, 2010, p. 6 (PDF; 499 kB)
  8. Jan Friedmann: The Intello Idiom. , DER SPIEGEL of August 13, 2012, p. 55
  9. Colorful Life ( Chinese ) 51CTO.COM. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2019.