“He who does not know foreign languages, does not know anything about his own”.
Although the above adage is almost two hundred years old, it still holds great relevance and resonance with language learners of today. At Bailieborough Community School we in the German Department truly believe in the immense value, importance and sense of pride which can be achieved through the learning of a foreign language. Not only can it improve your grasp of English, but it also enhances your confidence, gives you a wider understanding of and appreciation for foreign affairs and cultures, and helps broaden your career opportunities.
German is the most commonly spoken language within the E.U. and is the mother tongue of more than 120 million people. German is the national language of four countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. However, it is also spoken in parts of Belgium, Northern Italy and Eastern Europe. Germany is the largest exporter in the world and boasts the fourth largest economy. German is also easier than you think. Because German and English are both Germanic languages, there are many similarities between them, e.g. Haus (house), Garten (garden), Schuh (shoe), Mutter (mother) and Banane (banana) to name but a few.
The Junior Cert German syllabus is communicative, in that it is organised around the needs, expectations and interests which pupils bring to the foreign language classroom. The subject aims are as follows:
- To equip pupils with a sense of competence and confidence in using the German language as a means of communication.
- To provide pupils with a sense of awareness of and appreciation for another language and culture.
- To enlarge pupils’ work, further education and leisure options.
- To give pupils an enjoyable language-learning experience, which will encourage and facilitate their continued learning of German into Senior Cycle.
- Through all of the above, to contribute to pupils’ overall personal and social development.
In the German Department, in order to meet our students’ needs, we use a wide variety of teaching and learning methodologies such as pair work, group work, projects, ICT, language games and songs, as well as traditional methods such as teacher instruction and guidance. This leads to students mastering the four key language skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading. For the Junior Cert, students’ reading skills are assessed through a variety of reading comprehensions; their listening skills are assessed by way of an aural exam, and their written skills are assessed through a letter and short note / postcard. An oral exam is not compulsory for Junior Cert students. However, we in the German Department do offer our students the opportunity of sitting an optional oral exam in Third Year, which amounts to 20% of their overall marks in the subject. We also utilise a plethora of AFL (assessment for learning) strategies to further enhance pupils’ literacy, numeracy and overall competence in German. AFL strategies include peer assessment, think-pair-share, use of show-me boards, differentiation of questioning, sharing of learning intentions, and the outlining of success criteria.
German is a very popular subject choice for the Junior Cert in Bailieborough Community School. Students like the language, describing it as being accessible and well structured. As educators, we in the German Department do our upmost to nurture and encourage lifelong learners of German. As the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein so aptly put it, “the limits of my language are the limits of my universe”.