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including hands-on report and interview with Iska Niemeyer and Heike Krautschun-Lindner, authors of “Bremen handouts”

Bremen handouts for language awareness

A seven-part tool, developed in the IQ regional network Bremen, offers suggestions for working with linguistically heterogeneous groups in vocational education and training (VET)

Starting position/challenge

Participants with German as their second language are facing multiple challenges during vocational qualification, training, and retraining. Teachers and lecturers require the knowledge of basic educational and technical language in practice and theory. Participants must decipher complex technical texts, answer exam questions and lead professional discussions. But often, it is hard for particularly those who have acquired German as a second language to write professionally, express themselves verbally and to follow classroom activity. The series “Bremen handouts for work-related German language” provides background information and offers suggestions on how the teaching in practice and theory can be designed so that motivated and interested participants don’t fail due to language barriers.

Implementation of the tool

Heike Krautschun-Lindner and Iska Niemeyer from “Paritätisches Bildungswerk LV Bremen”, teachers for German as a second language (GSL), had the opportunity to support the teaching of retraining various skilled craft trades for two years. They could thus very concretely observe which vocational language challenges the participants faced and what difficulties arose for the trainers and subject teachers based on the linguistic heterogeneity of the groups. By working closely with the educators, it became increasingly clear how important it is not to separate technical content from linguistic content.

The experiences and results collected during the duration of the project formed the basis for the Bremen handouts, which demonstrate ideas on implementing language-sensitive methods to teaching as well as formulating recommendations and learning strategies based on authentic materials. Course contents should hereby not be simplified, but rather, language barriers should be recognised and practised. Participants should be able to acquire better access to technical content in order to safely handle the tasks in their future professional life.

The seven handouts deal, among others, with these topics: “Reading strategies in subject teaching”, “Developing specialised vocabulary”, “Exam questions and testing situations”, “Audit tasks in nursing” and “Communication in (re-)training and professional qualification”. The handout “The leap into reality” is aimed at teachers in work-related German courses who prepare the participants for the language requirements in real-life work conditions.

Summary

In German language courses, participants learn “standard language”. In vocational qualifications, trainings and retrainings, however, everyday and technical language is used in addition to set phrases, irony, shortened expressions, idioms, abbreviations and dialects. Subject teachers and trainers are often not aware of the hurdles that “normal” use of language represents for their retrainee students and trainees. The Bremen handouts draw attention to these obstacles and, at the same time, provide support resources.

Addressees for transfer:

Subject teachers, trainers, instructors and German teachers in vocational education and training (VET)

Tool:

The “Bremen handouts for work-related German language” are considered to be a stimulus for the implementation of a language-sensitive subject teaching in working with linguistically heterogeneous groups in vocational education and training (VET). They offer practical suggestions and tips, didactical suggestions, lesson plans as well as check-lists and references for further reading.

Project:

Six handouts, written by Heike Krautschun-Lindner and Iska Niemeyer, were created in the project “Tandem - Vocational qualification and language training”, a collaboration between the “Paritätisches Bildungswerk LV Bremen” and the “HandWERk gGmbH”, the Competence Centre of the Chamber of skilled crafts in Bremen. The seventh handout, “language-sensitive exam questions in nursing”, was developed by Natascha Buts, assistant in the project “QuaDobi” of the wisoak G - Kompetenzzentrum Gesundheit der Wirtschafts-und Sozialakademie der Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen gGmbH. Both projects ran from 2013 to 2014 in the Network IQ Bremen.

Implementing organisation:

Paritätisches Bildungswerk LV Bremen e.V., Heike Krautschun-Lindner / Iska Niemeyer, Faulenstr. 31, 28195 Bremen, Ph.: +49 (0)421/17472-43, hkrautschun-lindner(at)pbwbremen.de / iniemeyer(at)pbwbremen.de