Research in schools plays a vital role in the advancement of foreign language teaching and learning. School administrators, however, react reluctantly to such investigations because they fear unwanted disturbance in classrooms. – The following survey provides information collected from all 16 German state ministries on the laws and regulations concerning research in schools. It outlines the restrictions to be observed when applying for permission to investigate or evaluate in schools.
As the vast majority of the applied linguistics literature since the early 1990s supports the idea that some kind of focus on form is useful in the learning process, the question arises as to what is to be understood by focus on form and how it can be related to apparently conflicting concepts such as focus on meaning. These two concepts form the background to the discussion of empirical results concerning 1. negotiation of meaning studies, 2. language-related learner questions, and 3. text (re)production group tasks. It has been claimed that during these activities learners reflect upon L2-structures while communicating in the L2. It is argued that 2. and 3. do not only deliver data which allow insights into the structure of the learners’ L2-knowledge and in learning processes, but that they are also a suitable didactic means of encouraging metalinguistic knowledge and communicative skills.
In their underlying theory, foreign language teaching and learning are almost totally focussed on the present. Although understandable, this fact is to be regretted because the knowledge of their history would allow a better understanding of present-day problems and would offer help to their solution. In foreign language teaching, the present actually embraces the knowledge and methods which have been collected and developed during the last thirty years. periodization of history uses various criteria which depend on the present historiographers’ interests. They can be political, didactic, philosophical or otherwise. They can delimit short, middle, and long periods. In them foreign language teaching (concerning Latin and vernaculars) proves to be a genuine feature of European culture. None of its eras could do without it. Many “scientific” books of the past are actually textbooks. They show the unity of the European culture although expressed in various tongues. Such historical knowledge is not meant to replace present-day decisions but to give them deeper and better arguments.
The development of modern language teaching in 19th century Germany has been characterized as being overshadowed by the teaching of the classical languages. Similarly, methods used in modern language teaching are thought to have derived from the methodology in instruction in Latin and Greek. Against the backdrop on an evolving secondary school system the comparison of the methodological principles and procedures in the teaching of classical and modern languages as well as an analysis of grammar instruction, textural work and the role of practice reveal a more complex picture of mutual influences.
The article describes the new Test of German as a Foreign Language TestDaF – a standardised language test for foreign students applying for entry to an institution of higher education in Germany. TestDaF will be administered world-wide and is in its function and scope comparable to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
TestDaF measures the candidate’s performance in each of the four skills separately and relates it to one of three levels of proficiency, ranging approximately from level three (independent user) to five (good user) on the ALTE scale or levels B2.1 (lower vantage level) to C1.2 (higher effective proficiency) of the Council’s of Europe “Common European Framework of Reference”.
In the TestDaF development project, ending July 31, 2000, three model test sets in a paper-and-pencil format were developed and piloted. TestDaF will be operational in winter 2000. Development, assessment, grading and evaluation of TestDaF will be centralized in an institution whose organizational structure is still to be determined.
The aim of the paper is to show what part working memory plays in reading comprehension in a foreign language. The description of the working memory components from the perspective of the psychology of memory and neurolinguistics is discussed in the context of recent research in the field including my own findings. Particular attention is drawn to the problem of measuring the capacity of working memory and the importance of automatic language processing in ensuring reading comprehension in a foreign language. Finally, the resulting pedagogical implications for reading skills in a foreign language are discussed.
In contemporary Russian education (public schools and universities) we can observe in recent years a constant decline of students’ interest in learning German. Yet, at the same time, more and more Russian teachers of foreign languages seek to keep in touch with developments in the didactics of teaching foreign languages – developments that are taking place in Germany and other countries. It is the bilingual teaching of a (non-language) subject in a foreign language that assumes today a central position in the development of contemporary forms of language teaching. The very questions that arise and have to be solved in conjunction with the establishment of a bilingually taught ‘German as a Foreign Language’ course in cooperation between German and Russian institutions will be discussed in the following article.