Fulbright Award Supports German Language Study
Alma College faculty member Holly Liu was awarded a Fulbright grant to attend an academic seminar in Germany last summer — an experience she describes as “mind-opening” in her quest to prepare students to understand and communicate with other cultures.
At the Baden-Württemberg Seminar for American Faculty in German and German Studies, which was coordinated by the University of Tübingen, American faculty were given the opportunity to interact with their German counterparts.
With colleagues from other colleges and universities, Liu, an associate professor of German, studied the Bologna Process and its impact on European educational development. The group also visited German and Swiss universities, listened to presentations and participated in discussions.
“As we teach, we read and write about the German language and culture, but to experience it and hear directly from our German colleagues was really helpful,” she says. “We not only got to see how they teach German to their students, but we also got feedback from the students.”
Liu also had the opportunity to evaluate German textbooks that are used to help students meet language proficiency tests. This activity made her more familiar with the European testing and grading system, she says.
“It was mind-opening to see what other colleges are doing,” she says. “We discussed in detail how to teach German film and culture to our students and how we can challenge them to think critically. It’s important to me that Alma students are successful.”
Discussions with her colleagues about how to teach and communicate with other cultures also proved to be beneficial. As a result of a particular exchange with a German faculty member from the University of Tübingen, Liu changed the syllabus for her conversation and composition class.
“It was suggested that when you have students do group work, each student should have a specific role,” she says. “This is a way to ensure that everyone participates.”
While in Germany, Liu also had another mission: explore German study abroad programs for Alma students. She says it was important to her to identify programs that were inexpensive but gave students a total immersion opportunity.
“I found some great programs that will allow students to study German and take classes in English as well,” she says. “Study abroad helps students mature, so I want them to be able to have this experience.”
Posted: Sat, December 3rd, 2011 at 9:45AM