- Mr A.J. Dowsett (Head of Department)
- Dr M. Luiselli
- Mrs U. Mynette
The German Department
We are extremely proud that German has a strong presence in the school, and it is a very popular language option. Maybe it’s learning incredibly long words or quirky sounds that sparks a fondness to the language amongst our pupils? Maybe they are attracted to its ‘learnability’, since German is easy to pronounce, spelled phonetically, and it’s not spoken at breakneck speed? Or maybe our community quite rightly realises that German is an important business language, irrespective of Brexit? Not least because if you master the German language, it opens the doors to live and work in countries with a higher standard of living and working conditions that we enjoy here in the UK. Solihull pupils have the opportunity to make real inroads into the German language, especially as they are stretched well beyond the basic syllabus from the outset by an experienced, dedicated and passionate team. If they continue to A Level, they will leave school with sufficient fluency to put German onto their CVs with confidence and pride.
Pupils can opt to take German from the beginning of the Shells (Year 8), after having started with Spanish in the Thirds (Year 7). We follow a curriculum based upon Stimmt 1 and Stimmt 2, although materials from other sources are also used to supplement the course. Each class has the opportunity to use the Sanako language laboratory once a week, to boost those crucial listening and speaking skills.
Throughout the Lower School course, there are regular screenings of German language films, and as the opportunity arises, we take time to incorporate relevant cultural content, such as history, festivals and traditions, and food. In the Fourths (Year 9), pupils also work through an adapted version of Schiller’s Die Räuber in the target language!
We follow the AQA Specification and use the dedicated OUP textbook together with other suitable material to support the curriculum. All pupils are entered at Higher Tier.
Traditional classroom teaching is blended with digital learning, through subscriptions to ‘This Is Language’ and ‘Vocab Express’. Pupils therefore foster key independent learning skills and really take ownership of their German language development.
Help and support is always at hand with a weekly lunchtime clinic in the language laboratory, and GCSE pupils also benefit from one-to-one short sessions with our German language assistant.
We follow the AQA A Level syllabus, guided by the dedicated OUP textbook. However, the course is supplemented by material from other sources, such as the Goethe Institute, Deutsche Welle TV, the German language learners’ newspaper Presse und Sprache, and of course, articles taken directly from core German media sources.
Topics covered are: the changing state of the family; festivals and traditions; modern technology; music, fashion and TV; Berlin culture; art and architecture; politics and the EU; the reunification; and immigration and racism.
Furthermore, the students undertake an independent research project (which they chose), and the study of a literary work and a film. These are currently Andorra (Max Frisch), and Goodbye Lenin.
Sixth Form German is quite a unique learning experience. Classes are small, which means that students get plenty of personalised support, and they have two periods a week of one-to-one speaking practice with the language assistant. The Sixth Form students also constitute the editorial panel of our German magazine Das Alles ist Deutschland.
The Sixth Form edit and produce the biennial German magazine Das Alles ist Deutschland, which consists of contributions from all years on a range of topics. All pupils from the Shells (Year 8) onwards are encouraged to produce work of a high quality for possible publication in the magazine. This editorial opportunity provides the Sixth Form with a unique experience that can be drawn on in their UCAS statements. It also leads them to explore elements of culture in the German speaking world that go beyond the syllabus requirements and this stands them in good stead for Russel group and Oxbridge applications.
Solihull’s German department is a member of the Oxford German Network. This provides us with university links, guest speakers and access to national competitions for those extra keen linguists. We also enter Fourths (Year 9) pupils into the Routes into Languages Translation Bee competition.
The Fourth Form (Year 9) enjoy a trip each year to the Goethe Institute in London. We participate in a language learning workshop and finish the day with an authentic German meal in a themed London restaurant.
Each year, the majority of our Lower Fifth (Year 10) pupils participate in the long established exchange programme with the Elisabethen Schule in Hofheim near Frankfurt. Staying for a week in a host family really boosts their language skills and most importantly, they form international friendships that can last for a lifetime. A full report of the exchange and the latest photos can be found in our German magazine.
We have also launched an overnight trip for our Shell pupils (Year 8), starting with a four night stay in Berlin.. This is a regular feature in the department’s calendar, as it provides pupils with an early experience of German life, language and culture.
The Sixth Form are invited to participate in a bi-annual Berlin trip. Berlin history and culture is now a core element of the A Level course, and this trip includes educational tours (in German) of key buildings, monuments and museums. Since we fly out as a small group of Germanists, and the trip takes place during the run-up to Christmas when the streets of Berlin are filled with festive spirit, this is a real highlight of the A Level course.