Teaching talk: should students learn'real German'?

Watts, Sheila (2000) Teaching talk: should students learn'real German'? GFL (German as a Foreign Language), 1. pp. 64-82.


This paper looks at the ways in which learners develop the skill of speaking German and questions the ways in which different speech styles are prioritised. It is observed that speech tends to be the skill which is concentrated on in the early stages of language acquisition, and that it is comparatively neglected at advanced level. As a result of the privileging of types of discourse which have more in common with written texts than with naturally-occurring speech – ‘real German’ – university students going abroad tend to have poor interactional skills and low levels of pragmatic knowledge, which makes it difficult for them to integrate and form relationships with their German-speaking peers. It is suggested that a study of the linguistic analysis of ordinary conversation can help students to improve their pragmatic competence and hence to have a more pleasurable and profitable encounter with the German-speaking world. Since the use of new media in communication has resulted in a diminution of the importance of formal writing, an increased understanding of spoken German is also a necessary skill for the students’ future careers.

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