Works better in the company or teaches

Klippel, Friederike (Ed.): Teaching Languages ​​- Teach languages. Münster: Waxmann, 2016 (Munich work on foreign language research, 30). - ISBN 978-3-8309-3104-1. 332 pages, € 39.90.

Originated from the conference on the topic of the same name "Teaching Languages - Teaching languages ​​”(Spring 2014) on the occasion of the 65th birthday of the editor Friederike Klippel, the volume aims to“ redirect attention to the teaching of languages ​​and those who give language lessons ”(Preface, 5). Teaching aspects from this perspective are currently underrepresented compared to “learning” and “learner”, as the authors complain in the book almost in unison. Two studies, the McKinsey (2007) and the Hattie (2008) study, which dealt with the two large international comparative studies TIMSS and PISA, are considered to be triggers for the dedication to teaching and to the teachers in the present educational debate (10) .

The articles are divided into three subject groups: I. Teaching and teachers, II. Teacher training and III. Teaching content and methods, all of which illustrate the focus of the volume - the perspective of teaching languages. The discussion is supported by the contribution of the editor Friederike Klippel “Teachers matter - An essay ”opens, in which the author introduces the present examination of teacher quality research, gives a historical outline of the development of the foreign language teaching profession and calls for an in-depth academic study of this for the younger generation. The target group of the book can already be recognized here: While the scientifically committed readership can find some research impulses from a broad thematic spectrum in the 18 lectures, the volume is rather difficult to access for teachers, especially since it hardly contains any concrete teaching-oriented examples in many places does not go beyond scientific reflections.

Appel's contribution "Teaching Foreign Languages: Interaction, Knowledge, Thinking Style" opens the first complex of topics, "Teaching and Teachers". The author deals with the ability to teach foreign languages, for which he draws conclusions based on the three points of view mentioned in the article title. Caspari continues the discussion with ten theses on foreign language didactic research over the past 15 years. The author backs this up with exciting research results, which reveal tendencies, gaps and special features in this scientific field. Königs ’article is an attempt to draw conclusions from research on learning and learners for foreign language teachers and focuses on the corresponding training. The first of a total of four English-language essays concludes the complex of topics: Leo Will investigates the question of what constitutes an authentic teacher. In its definition, "authenticity" is a behavior to act "across roles" with a tendency towards informality (role-spanning behavior). From a sociological point of view, the author sees the adverse effects of such behavior in the classroom rather than its merits.

The second section of the volume, with a focus on teacher training, begins with Legutke's assessment of the university teaching he developed for future English teachers in collaboration with colleagues and students at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen, taking into account the concept of research-based teaching and learning. The author presents this using four scenarios for research-based learning. In his contribution, Aßbeck turns to the well-known problem of teacher training students of combining (university) theory with (school) practice, and presents the PIT model (= practice in theory) in subject didactic events at the University of Regensburg as an innovative university didactic concept for an intensive combination of theory, reflection and practice in teacher training. In the following article, Wipperfürth advocates linguistic negotiation processes that can increase the yield of learning situations in teacher training. The focus is therefore on communication between the trainers or mentors and the student teachers. In a joint contribution, the authors Birnbaum, Kupke and Schramm speak out in favor of expanding the original ESRIA model (experience; simulation; reflection; input; application) to a PESRIAS or PEVRIAS model, which has the additional components of "problem orientation" and "Backup" contains. In his final contribution to the complex of topics, Rösler deals with the problem of local teaching experiences, which initially appear to be incompatible, and the central design of advanced training courses. The author clearly shows which ways there are to carry out relevant practical explorations in a decentralized manner.

The third and most comprehensive block, consisting of nine articles, continues the discussion with a focus on teaching content and methods. In the introductory essay, Kolb deals with the importance of the topic of lesson planning during the first phase of teacher training at universities and calls for its development to become a core topic of German English didactics. Diehr addresses hopes and concerns about the use of mobile dictionaries in schools and looks at the results of the so-called MobiDic-Study on the use of mobile dictionaries, focusing on the weaker students. Thaler’s article focuses on Balanced teaching as a sensible combination of teacher-centered-frontal and student-controlled-autonomous teaching methods. The author weighs the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches (e.g. use of different media, teacher control vs. student activity, written language vs. spoken language and many more) and derives nine characteristics of balanced grammar teaching from this. The study presented by Kirchhoff is conceptually based on Nünning's study in Cologne (1997), but the result shows a higher variability of literary texts in English lessons in German schools than von Nünning found. Particularly noteworthy is the title list contained in the appendix. Rauschert is dedicated to a completely different topic: It deals with the potential, challenges and opportunities of Service learning (also “learning responsibly” or “learning through commitment”) in foreign language teaching within intercultural learning. In her article, Rymarczyk presents the results of an empirical study of the use of English by students in a museum as a place of extracurricular teaching and learning. A topic that has been controversial for a long time - homework - is discussed by Lütge, whereby the focus of the article is on the review of selected studies on the topic and the methodological investigation problems and does not provide any new findings. The focus of Schleich's contribution is the historical special case of foreign language education - recitation, which was initiated by Martin Hartman in 1899. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no reference to current foreign language training. Finally, the volume ends with Lubber's essay, in which the author works on a case study of the positive Outcomes integrating and embedding academic and professional Skills the intercultural awareness and communication in the increasingly internationalized educational institutions.

In summary, the volume represents an important contribution to the promotion of scientific activity in the field of “teaching and teaching”, but remains reflective to a large extent and works operationally on older research. Apart from a few fresh studies, concepts and ideas, the book hardly has any surprises in store. Nevertheless, the volume has a lot of potential for academically active readers who would like to take up the research desiderata and results presented in their own investigations and would like to continue the given discussion.


Hattie, John (2008): Visible Language. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

McKinsey Report [written by Michael Barber & Mona Mourshed] (2007): How the World’s Best Performing School Systems Come out on Top. London: McKinsey & Company. Search in Google Scholar

Nünning, Ansgar (1997): “Literature is when reading is fun again!”. In: Foreign language lessons 3, 4-13. Search in Google Scholar

Published online: 2018-4-20
In print: 2018-4-5

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin / Boston