Too late to start learning German? Think again…

You may think that once you’ve made a choice not to study a language at school, particularly for A Level, then that’s it: you’ve closed off that option for study at university. However, many university’s now offer the opportunity to study a language from scratch. In this blog post from Adventures on the Bookshelf, Hannah Hodges, a student at Oxford University, writes about her decision to take up the challenge…

Last week, we heard an overview of German at Oxford from Prof. Henrike Lähnemann. This week, Hannah Hodges, a current second-year undergraduate of French and German at St Peter’s College, tells us what motivated her to study German from scratch or ‘ab initio’. The popular YouTube videos “German compared to other languages” didn’t really help…

via Why I chose German ab initio — Adventures on the Bookshelf

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More Oxford German Olympiad opportunity ahead!

Those of you familiar with the Oxford German Olympiad will know that the main Olympiad event is accompanied by a small number of satellite competitions with a shorter deadline. Well, this year is no different – read on to find out about the competitions in this year’s Round 2!

1. German Performance Prize

The first of the Round 2 competitions is open to individuals or groups (of up to 4 students) of school pupils between Year 5 and Year 13 (i.e. ages 10-18 years). This competition is carried out in collaboration with the Creative Multilingualism ‘Multilingual Performance Project’. and will be judged by members of the Oxford German Network and the MPP. Your team could win £100!

To enter: Submit a video clip or write the script for a brief comedy sketch which involves an encounter between 1 or 2 English speakers and 1 or 2 German speakers. For full details of the competition and judging criteria, download the entry guidelines here.

2. Camden House ECR Book Proposal Prize

This competition is presented in association with Camden House. It is open to Postgraduate Students of German currently studying at a British or Irish university, or an Early Career Researcher who completed their doctoral degree at a British or Irish university no more than 3 years prior to the date of entry.

Camden House was founded in 1979 and has become a driving force in the publication of scholarly books on German and Austrian literature and culture for English-speaking readers. The imprint of the British/American publisher Boydell and Brewer is committed to fostering highquality research across the period spectrum from the Middle Ages to contemporary culture and presenting this in appealing books that are written in a clear and accessible style. This competition invites participants to write a book proposal on a topic in the field of German literature and/or film that will make a successful and important book and that fits the profile established by Camden House in German studies.

Prize: £200 and consideration for publication with Camden House.

The deadline for all tasks is 12 noon on 16th May 2018. The prizegiving ceremony will take place in Oxford on 19th June, and winning entrants will be invited to attend with a guest. Reasonable travel expenses will be covered. Winners will be notified by 25th May 2018.

Submit entries via the online form.

The winning entries from last year’s Round 2 competitions can be viewed here.

Questions or queries? Email the OGN Coordinator here. Good luck!

A perennial Easter conundrum

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? It’s a perennial conundrum and particularly apt at Easter. According to German satirical news Der Postillon, German scientists have solved the problem once and for all. Jetzt gibt’s wohl Friede, Freude und Eierkuchen für alle…

Tübingen (dpo) – Was war zuerst da: Die Henne oder das Ei? Dieses womöglich größte Rätsel der Evolutionsgeschichte ist offenbar endlich gelöst. Forscher der Universität Tübingen haben heute eine aufsehenerregende Studie veröffentlicht, derzufolge das Ei eindeutig vor dem Huhn da war. “Eigentlich war die Lösung überraschend naheliegend”, erklärt Professor Gustav Becker. “Wir sind die Frage…

via Wissenschaftler lösen Rätsel: Das Ei war zuerst da — Der Postillon

Bunte Ostertradition zum Selbermachen

Colouring and decorating eggs is an ancient and widespread tradition in Christianity, as well as in other religions. In Germany, the tradition can be traced back to the 13th century. Brightly coloured and decorated eggs hanging on trees and arranged into wreaths are a common sight in front gardens across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There are many ways to decorate eggs – why not have a go at this easy method for a bold marbling design?

20180310_143951.jpgEntscheide dich im Voraus, ob du die Eier kochen oder lieber ausblasen möchtest. Erstere sind zwar nicht so zerbrechlich, aber ich möchte meine gefärbten Eier auch nächstes Jahr wiederverwenden. Daher habe ich sie ausgeblasen (und später sehr, sehr viel Ruhrei gegessen!).

Da die Marmorierung nur auf eine Seite kommt, habe ich mich dazu entschieden, die Eier auch bunt zu färben. Das ist nicht zwingend nötig, sieht aber sehr schön aus und ist einfach. Man muss nur etwas Geduld haben: Kaltfarben kaufen (Farbensets sind in Hobbyladen erhältlich), mit Wasser und Essig anrühren und die Eier für ca. 5-6 Minuten in die Farbe tauchen, dann trocknen lassen. Oder Lebensmittelfarbe besorgen und die (unausgeblasenen) Eier darin kochen.

20180310_162219.jpgFür die Marmorierung braucht man:

  • Eier – am Besten Weiße
  • 1 Schüssel, z.B. ein großer, ausgewaschener Joghurtbecher und NICHT Omas beste Porzellanschüssel – sie wird am Ende ziemlich versaut sein
  • Wasser
  • Nagellack in verschiedenen Farben – je greller, desto besser!
  • 1 Zahnstocher
  • Nagellackentferner
  • Wattepads
  • Gummihandschuhe

 

 

 

 

Fülle die Schüssel halbvoll mit Wasser. Tröpfle Nagellack einer Farbe (im Bild blau) in das Wasser und dann eine zweite Farbe mitten in die Erste (im Bild gelb). Die Farben werden sich über das Wasser ausbreiten. Du kannst sie entweder so lassen, denn das macht auch so ein ziemlich cooles Muster auf das Ei – oder du kannst, um ein marmoriertes Muster zu erzielen, mit der Spitze eines Zahnstochers die Farben durcheinander ziehen. Du musst hier aber relativ schnell arbeiten, damit die Farben im Wasser nicht zu viel austrocknen und die Zahnstocherspitze leicht den Marmorierungseffekt kreieren kann.

(Ziehe für den nächsten Schritt am Besten Gummihandschuhe an – wie du im Foto sehen kannst, habe ich das nicht gemacht und meine Fingerspitzen voll gekleckert! Falls du keine Gummihandschuhe hast, ist das nicht schlimm – man kann ja den Nagellack schnell mit Nagellackentferner und Wattepads entfernen.)

Halte das Ei an beiden Enden zwischen Daume und Finger. Tunke es zur Hälfte in die Farbe ein. Falls du ein bisschen zu viel Farbe in das Wasser gekippt hast, kannst du sie mit dem Zahnstocher vom Eirand entfernen, bevor du das Ei aus dem Wasser hebst.

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Lege deine gefärbten Eier mit der gefärbten Seite nach oben auf ein Blatt Küchenrolle, um auszutrocknen. Beseitige irgendwelche Farbenreste von der Wasserfläche (z.B. mit einem Blatt Küchenrolle), bevor du das nächste Ei färbst – es ist nämlich nicht nötig, das Wasser jedes Mal auszuwechseln.

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Wenn du so viele Eier gefärbt hast, wie du willst, kannst du sie in einer Schüssel als bunten Osterblickfang auf einem Tisch präsentieren. Oder – wenn du sie ausgeblasen hast – kannst du sie an bunten Bänder einzeln aufhängen; oder sie auf einem Draht, der durch die Mitte gezogen wird, aneinanderreihen, um einen Ostereierkranz zu kreieren.

Viel Spaß beim Färben – und frohe Ostern wünscht Euer Oxford German Network Team!

When opportunity knocks and the opportunity is Interrail

If you’re turning 18 this year, then keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to apply online for free Interrail travel! The European Commission has set aside funds for the project so that an estimated 20,000-30,000 EU teenagers can travel and learn about the countries and cultures they live alongside in Europe. The UK is still in the EU – so grab the chance to travel across German-speaking countries (and others!). As Mit Vergnügen Berlin points out on its blog, you don’t just learn about other cultures – this is also the chance to develop important life skills and establish personal connections! Summer plans…sorted.

Die EU-Kommission möchte demnächst bis zu 30.000 Jugendlichen ein kostenloses Interrail-Ticket zur Verfügung stellen. Alle, die im Jahr 2000 geboren wurden, sollen sich bald online auf ein Ticket bewerben können. Die EU-Kommission möchte die jungen Menschen so für die Vielfalt Europas begeistern. Das klingt zwar erstmal ein bisschen weit hergeholt, ist aber eigentlich eine ziemlich…

via 11 Gründe, warum du eine Interrail-Reise machen solltest — Mit Vergnügen Berlin

Friends and double acts: Dazu gehören immer noch zwei!

The deadline for the Oxford German Olympiad is drawing nigh! In fact, 16 March is the final date you can enter the competition. There’s just time for us to post one more friendship-themed blog post for your last-minute inspiration…

The ‘double-act’ or Komikerduo is a form of artistic partnership with its origins in comic theatre. Double-act often take the form of unlikely friends or contrasting types: two people with very different comic styles or physiques who play with and against each other for laughs. In general, the comedy emerges from the uneven nature of the relationship between the two figures, whether it is one of size and shape, intelligence, social background or character. It’s worth remembering, though, that even the figure that might be considered the “straight man” will still sometimes be the butt of the joke! At the end of the day, the relationship between the two in a double act might be a love-hate type of friendship, but ultimately they need each other in the double act.

German-language culture has a long tradition of comic double acts. They can be found in stage acts of the nineteenth century and in circus clown acts of the early twentieth century – and of course on the cabaret stage from 1910 onwards! A very popular form of the double act is the Doppelconférence, a kind of comic dialogue, full of puns, misunderstandings and miscomprehensions.

Two Austrian actors, Rudolf Walter and Josef Holub, are credited with appearing as early as 1914 as the first Komikerduo on the big screen as Cocl & Seff – a format which influenced Laurel and Hardy, among others. Unfortunately, many of their films have since been lost.

valentub_karlstadt
Karl Valentin and Liesl Karstadt in Mysterien eines Frisiersalons (1932)

The long-running artistic partnership between Karl Valentin und Liesl Karlstadt began on the stage in cabaret performances from 1911, and later transferred into film. Their first short film Mysterien eines Frisiersalons (1932) was directed by Erich Engel and Bertolt Brecht. Click the picture above to watch it on YouTube.

More recent famous double acts include the collaboration between the caricaturist and comic Loriot and his dead-pan foil, the comic actress Evelyn Hamann – they appeared together in Loriot’s films (such as Ödipussi in 1988) and Hamann featured in a multitude of the sketches written by her partner in comedy, notably lisping her way towards a nervous breakdown while trying to pronounce the English combination ‘th’ as a continuity announcer – and the duo ‘Erkan und Stefan’, the fictional personalities of John Friedmann and Florian Simbeck, who brought exaggerated Turkish accents together with Bavarian dialect and English slang for comic effect (they owed some inspiration for their act to the British comic act Ali G).

Can you think of any other German-language double acts? Perhaps some of the literary friendships could be considered double acts – such as Max & Moritz – or are some double acts unintentional (like political double acts)?

E-Mail-Etikette

From ‘old fashioned’ letter writing last week to electronic communication this week! Writing emails is something we all do, especially at work. And if you’re learning a language or working in a foreign language, suddenly there are whole new rules to learn about how to communicate appropriately and effectively. It’s especially important if you’re going to embark on an internship or work experience abroad. So, when it comes to German, it’s comforting to know that native German-speakers have to learn and practise these things, too…

Durch den Einsatz moderner Medien ist manch einer geneigt, alte Konventionen zu vergessen. In der geschäftlichen Korrespondenz gelten andere Regeln als im privaten E-Mailverkehr zwischen Freunden. Wer diese nicht kennt, wird womöglich unterschätzt. Im ärgerlichsten Fall wird so jemand als unprofessionell oder sogar inkompetent abgestempelt. Das kann Aufträge kosten. Wer Irritationen auf der anderen Seite…

via Vielen Dank im Voraus! Wann kann man das schreiben? — karrierebibel.de

The century of letters and friendship

A guest post this week: Dr Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig explains the special place writing letters had for German-speakers in the eighteenth century…

Since ancient times, letter writing and friendship have been intimately connected in people’s imagination. For centuries, letters were even defined specifically as ‘a mutual conversation between absent friends’ (to quote from Erasmus’s treatise on letter writing, Opus de conscribendis epistolis, 1522). Correspondence between friends also came to be associated with a distinct epistolary type: the letter of friendship. Such letters were usually characterized by a familiar tone and a level of intimacy not found in other types of letters, e.g. official communication sent from a public institution to a citizen.

In German cultural and literary history, letters of friendship flourished particularly in the eighteenth century. In this period, which has been called both the ‘century of letters’ and the ‘century of friendship’, people began to celebrate personal friendships in new ways. Letters played a key role in creating and/or sustaining these friendships – sometimes over long distances and periods of time. The language correspondents used was often very sentimental: friends would, for instance, write at length about exchanging hugs and kisses to ensure each other of their mutual affection.

Gleimhaus-Freundschaftstempel.jpg
Gleim’s Temple of Friendship (Photo: Ulrich)

One of the historical persons who exemplify this particular culture of friendship is the German author Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim (1719–1803). Not only was he a prolific (and published) letter writer; he also had a Freundschaftstempel (Temple of Friendship) in his house in Halberstadt. The Temple consisted of several rooms whose walls were covered with portraits of his friends (and can still be seen today in the Gleimhaus). Gleim also had a special writing chair made, which he would move around his temple in order to position himself in front of the portrait of the friend to whom he wanted to write a letter – or whose letter to himself he was about to open and read.

Title Page Rode Briefwechsel einiger Kinder-min
Title page of Rode’s book (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt)

Letters of friendship were not the preserve of adults. On the contrary: letters were among the first types of text children learnt about. Entering a correspondence was part of their education as it helped them practise a range of skills, including their spelling and grammar, handwriting, understanding of social conventions – and also their knowledge of foreign languages. We can see aspects of this practice reflected in what may be the earliest German book of fictional children’s correspondence – August Rode’s Briefwechsel einiger Kinder (1776). Among others, it includes the letters exchanged between a group of boys: Carl, Albert, Casimir, Heinrich, and Hamilton. They correspond about all kinds of topics, including their relatives, new experiences, and games played. Since Hamilton is writing in his native French – a language which all the other boys are learning – Carl also uses it in his replies.

Ultimately, Rode’s book is just one example of many which illustrate that friendship, letter writing, and learning go well hand in hand – and that is as true today as it was in the eighteenth century!

About the author:

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig is a freelance author, editor, scholar, and translator. Together with Caroline Socha, she runs the blog whatisaletter; their their most recent publication is the bilingual collection Was ist ein Brief? Aufsätze zu epistolarer Theorie und Kultur – What is a letter? Essays on epistolary theory and culture (2018).

Forget the Oscars – it’s all about the Bears

The Berlinale – or Berlin International Film Festival – was founded in 1951 and is one of the world’s largest film festivals. And it’s 68th edition opens TODAY! The blog Mit Vergnügen Berlin gives us a sneak peak at the films that have been nominated for those coveted Golden and Silver Bear trophies (‘Goldener Bär’ and ‘Silberner Bär’). Which film would get your vote? Read on…

Am 15. Februar ist es wieder soweit: Zum mittlerweile 68. Mal macht die Berlinale die deutsche Hauptstadt für zehn Tage zum Mittelpunkt der Filmindustrie. Das komplette Programm wurde vor wenigen Tagen veröffentlicht. Für all diejenigen unter euch, die noch unschlüssig sind, welchen der Filme sie sich anschauen wollen, haben wir 11 Highlights herausgepickt, die sich…

via 11 Berlinale-Filme, die du nicht verpassen darfst — Mit Vergnügen Berlin

Wer bin ich – who am I?!

This week, regular guest blogger and guru of the OGN newsletter ‘Joining up German teaching in the UK’ Heike Krüsemann brings us an update from the Creative Multilingualism project, which is part of the Open World Research Initiative and recently held its second conference…

Wer bin ich – who am I?!

Well, only you can answer that! Our identities are shaped in highly individual ways – and if you have more than one language, probably even more so! Academics, teachers, students, artists, poets and other interested parties came together in early February at Reading University’s Institute of Education to exchange ideas on creative multilingual identities. The conference was part of the Creative Multilingualism programme, spearheaded by the OGN’s director and language enthusiast, Professor Katrin Kohl.

IMG_8915
Katrin Kohl opens the conference

The first day kicked off with some splendidly varied presentations by early career researchers on topics such as translation, translanguaging (yes, that’s a word), language learning, and bilingual poetry and art. Of course, I flew the flag for German with some examples of how teenage German learners use metaphors – see what I did there??

A lively panel and audience then debated whether Modern Languages in the UK needs a new identity. Is it one thing – is it many things? Should the question be more like:

‘Wer bin ich, und wenn ja, wie viele?’

Someone should write a book about that – oh, hang on, they already have!

On the second day, we heard about nature’s many languages, and how linguistic and biological diversity complement each other perfectly in the area of conservation. Professor Jean-Marc Dewaele gave a highly enlightening talk about diversity, linguistic and otherwise: culture cannot exist without it. Society needs people who don’t fit into the usual pattern.

Amerah Saleh and Bohdan Piasecki, ‘Free Radicals’ from the Beatfreeks Collective moved the audience to tears for all the right reasons with their multilingual poetry in Arabic, Polish and English. Typical comment: “You ripped my heart out and put it together again”. Powerful stuff.

In two workshops, delegates explored the roles different languages have on the lives of multilingual speakers, and heard about Language Futures an initiative for primary and secondary schools to develop languages beyond the classroom.

IMG_8943
Rinkoo Barpaga has everyone enthralled!

Then Rinkoo Barpaga took the stage and had us all enthralled. Rinkoo is an amazing storyteller and comedian. He is deaf and used sign language and an interpreter to communicate with the audience. We learnt about Rinkoo’s documentary ‘Double Discrimination’ about the variations in sign languages, racism, discrimination and different deaf  Black people’s use of urban sign languages.

Finally, Professor Terry Lamb chaired a panel on community languages in schools. A lot of good work goes on here already which sadly does not receive much publicity, but it’s crucial that teacher education should support multilingual classrooms in the UK.

An inspiring two days passed by in a multilingual flash. If you feel you’re struggling to construct your multilingual identity, relax: anything goes! Just ask yourself this:

Wer bin ich – und warum nicht?

If you’d like to follow up on the conference contributions, have a look on the Creative Multilingualism page.

Heike Krüsemann is a post-doctoral researcher on the Creativity in Language Learning Strand of Creative Multilingualism. To sign up for Heike’s OGN newsletter ‘Joining up German teaching in the UK’ – top tips, events and resources from the world of German teaching, click here. Take a look at Heike’s latest blog post on how the image of Germans in the UK press affects pupil motivation to study German!