Our Pedagogical Approach

Augenblicke was developed for beginning through intermediate German language and culture instruction, preparing students from the start for eventual coursework at the upper-level in a consistent manner with no interruption or jump between first-year and second-year curricula.

The program’s systematic and contextualized language, culture, and grammar progression is structured around six themes essential to the 21st-century learner. Through the lens of these themes, students explore key issues across topics on national identity, multilingualism, technological advancements, citizenship, environmentalism, history, commemorative culture, and artistic representations as they build their language skills. Each module’s trajectory is structured around select authentic media and literary materials with which students engage and upon which students continually reflect as they deepen their linguistic and cultural knowledge.

Communication in Augenblicke is usage-driven and consistently framed by the four modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational and reflective), which helps center students’ attention on the target audience of communicative practices and helps prompt learners to make thoughtful choices regarding their language use.

Lastly, Augenblicke’s process-based grammar and vocabulary progression helps students develop a fine eye and ear for grammatical paradigms while bolstering their communicative and symbolic competencies. These core features of Augenblicke embed language learning within genre-specific, authentic, and culturally relevant contexts and foster students’ language education with the ultimate goal in mind: effective communication.

Key Features at a Glance

  • Six AP World Language Themes creatively orient the modules: Families and Communities; Contemporary Life; Personal and Public Identities; Global Challenges; Beauty and Aesthetics; Science and Technology.
  • Our cyclical approach means students engage with each of the six themes twice across the curriculum, and encourages that students connect with global issues across different contexts and in increasingly complex ways.
  • Essential Questions drive the intellectual trajectory of each of the 12 modules, progressing from the personal to the public (e.g. Wer bin ich? Was für ein Bürger bin ich?).
  • Authentic media, film, and texts (i.e. materials originally created for a German-speaking audience) allow students to explore and reflect on German culture and language on its own terms; there are no ‘contrived’ dialogues, texts, or videos.
  • The four modes of communication (interpretational, interpersonal, presentational, and reflexive) inform the scope of student activities, fostering the development of all skill areas.
  • Transparent learning strategies introduced throughout the curriculum help students develop strong language learning skills and articulate their own approaches to language study.
  • Takes a critical, non-essentializing, and inclusive approach to cultural learning and language use.
  • Vocabulary learning is supported through student-guided activities, meaning that vocabulary development is, in large part, individualized and personally meaningful to each student.
  • Hybrid inductive to deductive approach to grammar (adapted from the PACE model) reinforces students critical thinking skills and helps students own their language learning.
  • Each module’s summative assessment task prompts students to address the module’s Essential Question, often collaboratively, using a range of media and modes of communication. Here, students demonstrate their understanding of the content and ability to produce key structures they have worked with throughout the trajectory of the module.

Structure and Format

  • Flexible possibilities for implementation. Augenblicke can be used across three semesters or two, or for the full two years of introductory and intermediate (often supplemented with additional reading or writing projects).
  • Works across all Teaching Modalities. The program is adaptable for and has been used in in-person, hybrid, and remote instructional settings.
  • Format Options. Augenblicke is available either as a print or a fully functional e-book.
  • Robust on-line component. The in-class materials for Augenblicke is tightly articulated with a user-friendly, comprehensive set of practice activities, quizzes, and asynchronous materials housed on Canvas (available free for teachers even if your campus does not use Canvas). Activities range from fairly conventional grammar and vocabulary practice to the use of video (‘vlog’) and threaded discussions.

Collaboration among a Teaching Community

One of the most exciting aspects of Augenblicke brings our adopters together, a  community of teachers working at colleges and universities across the nation, who all share a common goal:

  • teaching German language and culture in ways that are meaningful, 
  • socially just, 
  • pedagogically responsible, 
  • and effective in achieving learning goals. 

As a collaborative project, Augenblicke is also a dynamic curriculum, in that teachers and program directors share syllabi, lesson plans, presentation slides, exams and quizzes, Canvas activities, etc. through a shared file-server available to all users. Augenblicke’s community of teachers also provide ongoing feedback (and corrections) so that the work remains responsive to teachers’ (and students’) needs and preferences. We see Augenblicke as a highly productive network of people, materials, and media aimed at helping our students become critical, competent, and enthusiastic users of German along with their other languages.

For us, this means that the overarching framework welcomes an interchangeability of texts and activities that encourage a variety of approaches. Our adopters can share materials collectively through Box, which offers individual instructors to impact the curriculum and/or to benefit from the collective expertise of the community. We are committed to diversifying and deepening outreach and collaboration as we move forward in conjunction with AATG.

Currently, our program includes:

  • direct communication with a flexible Author Team devoted to continued and dynamic development of the program
  • a shared dropbox site where community members can circulate additional ancillary materials with others and/or locate additional supportive materials (from rubrics and tests that closely adhere to the core curriculum but look different across institutions with varying contact hours) as well as alternative pedagogical approaches (such as alternative summative assessment ideas, additional hybrid/remote materials, alternative theme-based texts and didacticizations, etc.)
  • a robust teacher’s guide based on well-respected scholarship in second language teaching and active learning. This handbook will grow enormously through a unique crowd-sourcing teaching initiative, currently under development.

Social Impact and the Profession

Through the sponsorship of the AATG, Augenblicke is a not-for-profit project that benefits German teachers and their students in socially, economically, and academically responsible and sustainable ways. This means that no payment or profits are going to the co-authors. Instead, the cost to the student is based entirely on printing/e-book production, binding, and shipping (plus whatever surcharges campus bookstores apply). Most importantly, a portion of each sale also goes into a fund at the AATG to promote the future of German language and culture education nationally and the professional development of teachers at all levels of German across a diversity of institutions for years to come.