English is the most frequently taught and studied language worldwide. There is not only a great diversity of Anglophone language variations and cultures, but there are just as many ways in which the language might be taught in teaching and learning contexts. As a branch of the humanities, Didaktik des Englischen (also known as the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)) draws on the findings of key fields such as linguistics, English and American studies as well as other related areas, focusing on the development of critical thinking and promoting intercultural learning. While investigating the conditions and processes of learning and teaching, it constantly examines current topics and new texts. In this regard, TEFL is concerned with theoretical concepts and explores the possibilities of their methodological realization in class. Moreover, modern information and communication technologies accelerate the linguistic and cultural exchange on a global scale – alongside with economic and political globalization. There is a visible increase in intercultural contact situations in which the use of English is essential to prevent misunderstandings or even communication breakdown. Bearing that in mind, the focus has also shifted to the complex interplay between (foreign) language and thought. How do language and culture influence our perception of the world?
The state of the English language as the dominant and global lingua franca vis-à-vis less prestigious languages must be reflected upon with regards to school and foreign language teaching. It requires a sound education in teaching methodology, which is based upon knowledge and research, to meet the requirements future English teachers will be confronted with. Didaktik des Englischen aims at linking the development of intercultural competences with social and global issues such as migration, heterogeneity, inclusion or ecology. By doing that, future teachers learn to pass on language competences as well as profound knowledge about Anglophone literatures, cultures, language varieties to their students, and to foster their (critical) language awareness.
Didaktik des Englischen at the English Seminar Tübingen
The section of Didaktik des Englischen/ Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) was launched in April 2016. It provides students with courses and insights, preparing them for the challenges of teaching English professionally. Furthermore, it aims at critically evaluating the knowledge of the Anglophone languages, literature(s), cultures and media for lessons at school or even at university against the backdrop of historical and contemporary discourses. The subject will be reflected upon ‘in its theoretical complexity’ as well as ’practical consequences’ (cf. Jank/Meyer 1991, 33).
The current courses of TEFL in the Bachelor and Master of Education programmes mirror the academic, research-oriented and professional focus of the Tübingen section Didaktik des Englischen. The Bachelor course comprises the teaching of essential theories and reflects upon practical teaching in preparation for the Praxissemester in the Master of Education. By building on and strengthening the acquired competences in the Bachelor course, the Master courses provide an overview of research and methodology. Additionally, they offer students the possibility to reflect on experiences gained during their Praxissemester, and to contextualize their research on the basis of current topics.
Furthermore, the section provides future teachers with a comprehensive lecture series Issues in Foreign Language Education / Impulse zur Fremdsprachendidaktik.
The Praxissemester is both prepared and accompanied on the basis of a close collaboration with the Staatliche Seminar für Didaktik und Lehrerbildung Tübingen, other institutions and in-school teacher training: it is all about bridging theory and practice. Put simply, students take their theoretical background to the schools of the region and test it against their own observations, reflections and insights in the classroom. Thereby, they gain a wealth of experiences in acting as teachers and moderating learning (processes).