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Making Connections in German at the Verkehrshaus
Jo Burn, German Team Leader

Grade 2 students had a fabulous opportunity early in October to learn German in an authentic setting at the Verkehrshaus (Transport Museum) in Luzern.

From horse drawn carriages to space rockets, from hot air balloons to diggers, the slow, the fast and the in between of the transport world were all on display for the children to wonder at, admire, describe and compare. Schnell, schneller, am schnellsten! Ich fahre mit dem Auto! Where best to practise comparatives and the dative case in German than at the Verkehrshaus?

One of the central beliefs upon which the primary German curriculum is built, is that children significantly benefit from authentic opportunities to use and acquire language. This applies both to those who are native speakers, as well as to those who are at the various phases of acquiring the language. The professional collaboration with the homerooms allows students to transfer skills and knowledge, for example the scientific understanding of how a particular form of transport works. This was eloquently demonstrated by one students during the trip who, having asked me for the translation of steam into German, not only accurately explained to me the ins and out of how pistons make steam trains move, he explained it all in German. There were numerous examples throughout the day of students acquiring new vocabulary from signage at the museum, by reading aloud and comparing the languages. Much of this inquiry was on a peer to peer level, some adult led, but wither way, the joy of discovery was clear to see on the students’ faces. The students consistently identified the German words for various of forms of transport with accuracy recalling information from class and from their individual inquiries. The range of language use was highly personal to each student dependent on their interests. The whole day was a wonderful example of how learning a language within an authentic context can encourage deeper understanding and lead to creation of meaning.

The transport museum trip forms a key part of the How We Organise Ourselves unit. In class, the children learning German as an additional language focused on the central idea that “Language can help people travel and describe travel experiences”. The students inquired initially into the vocabulary for types of transport and ways to describe what they do or how they move. This inquiry then developed and students explored the appropriate grammar conventions for purchasing a ticket and sourcing travel information, literature connections and road safety signage amongst other ideas. The native speakers inquired into the idea that  “Language helps people to inquire into how communities make efforts to create transportation systems that meet their needs and inquire into the reasons transport methods exist”. They explored features of transportation systems and the type of language they would need to describe and narrate travel experiences. These units link closely, and are part of a larger collaboration with the whole of the Grade 2 team, who lead and manage the trip to the transport museum. Occurring towards the end of the unit, the trip to the Verkehrshaus offers a fabulous opportunity for students to use and try out this acquired language and for teachers to inspire further challenge.

The trip allows children in language acquisition to work towards many of the language learning outcomes for the unit, for example, they are able to ‘demonstrate understanding of selected, taught vocabulary (Phase 1)’ by identifying the form of transport at the museum. Some children are able to read the signage in German and can show that they are ‘able to understand and respond to longer passages made up of familiar language in simple sentences, within an authentic social context (Phase 2)’. By the end of the unit many students are able to ‘express ideas using simple phrases and sentences with some independence (Phase 1) for example by speaking about the exhibits’. These are just a few examples of how students can demonstrate achievements as part of this unit.

Throughout the unit and the trip itself, students in the language and literature class also had the opportunity to further their inquiries into 'understanding how people communicate using different languages', describing personal travel experiences and by 'learning to ask questions to gain information and respond to inquiries'. 

Excursions, such as this one Grade 2 were able to make to the Verkehrsmuseum, really bring the units to life and the learning is visible well after the event itself. I would like to thank Emma Carr, Grade 2 team leader, for the impeccable organisation of the trip, the extended Grade 2 team, the parent volunteers, and the German team for a successful, collaborative and fun day out for all.

 

 

  • Field Trip
  • German Learning
  • Grade 2
  • Local Connections
  • Primary School
  • Unique Learning Experience

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