Das Mädchen schleppte sich… to the Oxford German Olympiad

This week, Sofia Justham Bello, talks about her love of German, onomatopoeia and how she approached entering the biggest event in the Oxford German Network diary: the Oxford German Olympiad. Click here to read her version of Hansel and Gretel.

My underlying motivation for taking part in the 2017 Oxford German Olympiad was my love for the German language. What particularly draws me towards German is its poetic nature and ability to combine individual words to form a larger word and meaning; for example, in my entry I used the word Menschenmenge (crowd) which can be broken down to Menge (an amount) of Menschen (people).

Prizes 2017Another reason that drew me towards entering the competition was the theme: “Deutsch jenseits von Deutschland”-German beyond Germany. This was intriguing as one could explore the role and power of German in any location, hence expressing the idea that language is not restricted to thrive in one place. In my opinion this theme is particularly encouraging and vital for our world today, as it reflects the need for different languages in our lives, increasing our ability to connect with people and understand each other’s cultures.

The category I took part in involved rewriting the story of “Hänsel und Gretel” in a different location. I chose to relocate them in modern day London, a multicultural city with an iconic landscape, which generates infinite possibilities for storytelling.

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Illustration from the 1903 edition of Ludwig Richter’s collection of fairytales

The timelessness of the Grimm tale was key to motivating me to write; personally, I find that Märchen offer a sense of comfort to the reader; despite their bizarre and often gory themes, one is fond of their nostalgic structure and magical familiarity. My story was similar to the original, but I altered small details to fit the setting, such as instead of following a white dove, the children follow a pigeon; and instead of stumbling across a life-size gingerbread house, my story ends with a cliffhanger that leaves them peering into a cake shop window.

Writing a short story in German was more of a challenge, and it took practice to write in the imperfect tense. However, it was fun to discover new verbs which I would have never encountered at school, such as when Gretel felt tired, and therefore dragged her feet along the street (Das süße Mädchen schleppte sich die Straße entlang – very onomatopoeic!).

I also found it fun to discover new idioms to illustrate the siblings’ resilience, such as Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund (“The Morning Riser has gold in their mouth”, i.e. the early bird gets the worm); such an idiom perhaps highlights the positivity and character the German language has, which is likely to have compelled so many people to take part in the Olympiad this year.

Sofia Justham Bello

Oxford German Olympians celebrate success!

Since the Olympiad celebrations in June, the Oxford German Network team has had a little break – hence the ‘Funkstille’ on our blog. But while we were away, we asked some of the successful participants in ‘Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland’ to tell us about their experience of taking part in the competition. We start with the group that came runner-up for their interview with a German native speaker living in the UK: Ellie, Laila and Hannah.

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Prof. Henrike Lähnemann announces the winners at the prize-giving ceremony

Our trip to Oxford was amazing! We had such a great time – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is something that definitely doesn’t happen often! Oxford University is so eye-catching, with the stone walls and the old wooden doors, and the resources that are available are super helpful. Oxford city is beautiful with lots of sightseeing to do and ancient buildings with stories behind them. When we got there we had a tour of the university, after that we went to the awards ceremony at the Bodleian Library which looked like the perfect place to study in. The next day we got ready for another exciting day ahead of us. We went on a river boat to see the pretty trees and nature around us, later in we went to the cinema to get out of the scorching heat!

Overall our trip to Oxford was very memorable and we would love to go back again sometime.

Ellie Tempest

Prizes 2017

The award ceremony was amazing! I would love to take part in another competition for the Oxford German Network. I liked doing the quiz about the Bodleian. I especially liked the rap video. My prize was an orange phone cleaner, an Oxford University postcard, Letters To A Young Poet [book], How a Ghastly Story Was Brought To light By A Common Or Garden Butchers Dog [book], Chess [book] and an Oxford German Network bookmark.

Laila Gowling

Waiting ceremony 2017
Competitors wait to receive their prizes

Besides going to the University and the award ceremony, we found Oxford town great. Everything was so pretty and it had such a nice scenery. Also everyone that we met in Oxford was so kind and always there if we needed help. The cinema was great and so was the mini river cruise we had so much fun. Overall our time in Oxford was amazing and we would love to go back and we will definitely be entering the next lot of Competitions, in the hope of having this magical experience again.

Hannah Wicks

More to come next week…!

Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – the Winners!

The Oxford German Olympiad 2017 is officially closed and yesterday evening the winners were invited to attend a prize ceremony in Oxford. We’re delighted to announce all the winners here. And while you’re here, why not take a look at some of their work as well?

Peoples have always migrated and taken their languages and stories with them. Moreover, languages and cultures are almost never confined to one geographical area or one nation. This year, the Oxford German Olympiad explored German peoples, language and culture beyond the borders of Germany. We asked students across the UK to think about where German is spoken throughout the world in all its variants and how it got to all those places, as well as modern German-speaking migrants and the texts and opinions they take with them.

 

Oxford German Olympiad 2017 The Winners

Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11)

Draw a comic strip:

Winner: Seren Billington

Runner-up: Charity Clifford

Runner-up: Rianne Thomas

Highly Commended: Nile Studt

Highly Commended: Helen Li

 

 

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Design a menu:

Winner: Sydney Smith & Ellie Grimsey

Runner-up: Helen Li

Highly commended: Hester Perry

Commended: Anastasia Ellis, Olivia Hough, Liberty Caraher

 

 

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Illustrate your favourite German word:

Winner: Sophie Moss

Runner-up: Dinara Gill

Highly commended: Lydia Morgan

Highly commended: Aisha Akhtar

Commended: Joshua Mariott

Commended: Martha Block

 

 

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Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):

Write a conversation between a Deutscher Schäferhund and a Bernhardiner

Winner: Aishwarya Shanmuganathan

Runner-up: Izzie Grout

Highly Commended: David Demetriou & Alfie Stocker

Commended: Emma Haythornthwaite

Commended: Charlotte Preston

Commended: Fifi Dunphy

Commended: Elizabeth Gliznutsa

 

 

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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: Summarise or write about the adventures of Anna’s toy dog

Winner: Eleanor Voak (Pink Rabbit Winner)

Runner-up: Khadijah Rahman

Runner-up: Layla Barwell

Highly Commended: Helena Taylor

Commended: Xiaoli Biggs

Commended: Lara Koch & Elizabeth Appleford (Pink Rabbit Commended)

 

 

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Design a brochure  

Winner: Alina Gantner & Maria Maratovna Nazhmeddinova

Winner Dario Brincat

Runners-Up: Mahliha Taylor & Rosa Boyd

Highly Commended: Pamela Shahbakhti

Commended: Ngum Mofor

Commended: Abesha Balakumar & Ikra Kabir

 

 

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Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):

Relocate the adventures of Hänsel und Gretel and write their story

sekhonsogo2017Winner: Simrit Sekhon

Runner-up: Loretta Bushell (Runner up Hansel and Gretel)

Runner-up: Sofia Justham Bello (Runner up 2 Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: George Phibbs (Commended Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: Sebastian Roberts (Commended 2 Hansel and Gretel)

 

Write a blog post or short article

Winner: Olivia Shelton (Winner Blog Post)

Runner-up: Isobel Horsfall (Runner up Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Jacob Melia, Daniel Mills, Alex Rowley (Highly Commended Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Alasdair Czaplewski (Highly Commended 2 Blog Post)

Commended: Pyotr Baskakov (Commended Blog Post)

 

Write a profile

baylisslogo2017Winner: Lucy Bayliss

Runner-up: Ekaterina Rahr-Bohr (Runner up Profile)

Highly Commended: Iris Bertrand (Highly Commended Profile)

Highly Commended: Jessica Ebner-Statt (Highly Commended 2 Profile)

Commended: Yao-Chih Kuo (Commended Profile)

Commended: Sophie Noble (Commended 2 Profile)

 

Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):

Migrating Communities

Winner: Simone Jackson (Winner Migrating Communities)

Runner-up: Beth Molyneux (Runner up Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: Isabel Yurdakul (Highly Commended Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: George Ruskin (Highly Commended 2 Migrating Communities)

Commended: Lidija Beric (Commended Migrating Communities)

Commended: Amy Lewis Commended 2 Migrating Communities)

 

Dialect Essay

Winner: Mariella Clarke (Winner Dialect Essay)

Runner-up: Franziska Alting (Runner up Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Maia Jarvis (Highly Commended Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Emma McDowell (Highly Commended 2 Dialect Essay

 

Colonial History Essay

Winner: Helena de Guise (Winner Colonial History)

Winner: Beth Molyneux (Winner 2 Colonial History)

Runner up: Lilian Tosner (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Runner up: Eden Magid (Runner Up 2 Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Hugo Gallagher-Boyden (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Phuong Bui (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Special Prize for pupils outside the UK: Maurice Zoa & Bruno Ndougou

 

Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants)

Write and perform a rap about the German language

Winner: Samantha Martin, Veronica Kravchenko, Laura Newey, Faye Metcalfe

Runner-up: Pierre Meyer, Nicholas Poat, Travis Richards, Thomas Barnes (Deutsch Rap – Transcript)

Highly Commended: Jodie Gollop, George Bayliss, Nicholas Speed, William Coupe

 

Create a web page or website on the theme ‘Deutsche jenseits von Deutschland

Winner: Propa Anwar, Lidija Beric, Rayya Shareef, Precious Quaye

Runner-up: Miles Begley, Rupert Hill, Reuben Bye, Lucas Cope

 

Interview a German-native speaker living in the UK and create a podcast

Winner: Leonora Selita, Sofia Denno, Laura Bell, Amaani Khan, Rosie Young

Runner-up: Safron Salhan, Setinder Manic, Nikita Talwaria

Runner-up: Hannah Wicks, Laila Gowling, Grace Adamson, Ellie Tempest

 

A record-breaking Oxford German Olympiad!

Judging of the Oxford German Olympiad 2017 has now been completed and all those who took part will soon be informed of their result. It’s been a particularly exciting year for the Oxford German Network team because this year’s Olympiad has proved to be the biggest ever!

Pennsylvania_German_Sticker.svg2017 marks the 5th anniversary of what has become the biggest event in OGN’s calendar. The Oxford German Olympiad is an annual themed competition for learners of German aged between 9 years and 18 years old and living in the UK. The tasks are designed to challenge learners of all levels to get creative with their German language skills and expand their knowledge of the culture, history and literature of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This year the theme was Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – German(s) beyond Germany.

In its first year in 2013 – when the theme was ‘Grimm Tales’ – 496 pupils aged between 11 and 18 years old took part. In 2016 (Deutscher Humor – Nichts zum Lachen?) saw 350 young German learners aged 9 to 18 years old compete to show off their German language skills and cultural knowledge. This year, nearly 550 entries were submitted by over 750 pupils aged between 9 and 18 years old from 97 schools in every part of the United Kingdom – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were all represented. That includes nearly 50 schools that entered pupils for the very first time, making 2017 definitely the biggest year of the Olympiad in all respects!

The Olympiad tasks are judged by a hard-working team of German experts from the Oxford German Network team (past and present) and members of the Oxford University German Sub-faculty, who take a break from reading undergraduate essays every year to read… German posters, brochures, fairystories, interviews and imagined dialogues, rewritten literary classics, comic strips, and watch sketches, raps, songs and animations. The variety is almost endless!

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Judging is completed in several stages and the ultimate decision over the winning entries is presided over by the Chair of the Judging Committee – in previous years this has been the professors who have been the Taylor Chair of German and the Chair of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics. This year, Professor Henrike Lähnemann once again took up the helm of the Judging Committee.

The competition is too large for the judges to be able to give individual feedback on entries and every year judging proves to be a tough task, but this year the committee were particularly impressed by the creativity of the entries. As one judge said, “what I found most striking was how evident it was when pupils were having fun”, commenting that in the tasks they had judged “it was great to see a very wide range of entries”, while another member of the Judging Committee admired the “really playful responses” to the set tasks and noted that several had showed strong evidence of considerable background research. All the judges noted that – in addition to sticking to the rubric of the competition tasks – the entries that did particularly well and most impressed them were those that showed reflectivity, linguistic accuracy and ambition, and creative thinking with language and with the format of the task, whether that was storytelling, interviewing, creating a comic strip or writing an essay.

OGE-logo-land-ounSo the Oxford German Network Team and the Olympiad Judging Committee hope you – whether student or teacher – enjoyed taking part in the Oxford German Olympiad this year as much we all did reading and watching all your entries. Warm congratulations to all the winners, runners up, and everyone who participated!

Now… keep your eyes peeled for announcements about the Oxford German Olympiad 2018!

 

Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – German(s) beyond Germany

The Oxford German Network recently launched its annual national competition: the Oxford German Olympiad 2017! Now in its fifth year, this year’s theme is ‘Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – German(s) beyond Germany’. The OGN Team put their heads together to suggest some of the questions and topics you might like to think about when you enter the competition…

pennsylvania_german_sticker-svg
A Pennsylvania Dutch badge design

Peoples have always migrated and taken their languages and stories with them. Moreover, languages and cultures are almost never confined to one geographical area or one nation. Of course, the English language provides a good example of this – but so does German! German and German dialects are spoken not just by those living in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland… and parts of the USA, and German culture has found its way into all sorts of unexpected places. So this year, the Oxford German Olympiad explores German peoples, language and culture beyond the borders of Germany. There’s a lot out there to provide food for thought!

Historically, Germany didn’t even come into existence until 1871 and Austria didn’t exist as a defined republican state until 1919. They’re both very young in terms of ‘nation states’. So what does that mean for what we might consider ‘German’? Would travelling back in time open up a world in which all of ‘German’ existed only ‘beyond Germany’?

hoi-bear
A shop sign in Liechtenstein. In Swiss German ‘Hoi’ means ‘Hi’ – ‘Hoi zäme’ is for greeting more than one person.

Like English, German is the official language in more than one country. Do people in Austria speak ‘German’ or ‘Austrian’? And what about Switzerland? Officially divided into German, French and Italian speaking areas – the German you’ll encounter here is again very different and even varies with each Kanton! Did you know that German is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg?

Like Britain, France, Spain or Portugal, Germany became a colonial power, but only in the late nineteenth century under Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was a latecomer seeking a “place in the sun” – “einen Platz an der Sonne”. There are still traces of that heritage, e.g. in Africa, where the German Empire settled colonies in areas that are now parts of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ghana, and other modern African countries.

Can you think of any famous German migrants in the UK? You could start with looking into the ancestors of the Royal Family or the ancient Rothschild financial dynasty… A wave of migration to other parts of the world was caused by National Socialism in the 1930s and early 1940s, but Germans also moved across Europe and across oceans for religious and economic reasons from the sixteenth century onwards. Religious reforming communities, like the Mennonites and the Amish, which have Dutch and Swiss origins in the sixteenth century and still maintain some of their linguistic heritage (e.g. ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’) to this day, can be found in parts of the USA, South America and elsewhere.

People migrate for many reasons: they may follow a friend or partner, work for an international company, seek an education abroad or just want to try living somewhere else. How many people in the UK do you know who originate from a German-speaking country?

Of course, texts also migrate – above all through translation – and can be adopted and adapted by other cultures. Think of the international cultural influence of Goethe’s Faust or the many well-known fairytales collected, adapted and published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the nineteenth century. Pick a piece of German you find interesting – a song, a poem, a news article or part of a story – and try translating it. It’s fun! You’ll find words that are almost the same, and words that are challenging. Are any untranslatable?

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Rumpelstiltskin ‘spinning’ a tale, from an edition of Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm, translated by Lucy Crane and illustrated by Walter Crane, 1886.

You’ll find lots more inspiration and interesting ideas on the Oxford German Network’s competition pages, as well as all the competition tasks and guidelines. The deadline for entries is 12 noon, Friday 17 March 2017 (note that submission is online only). If you have any queries you can email the OGN Coordinators at ogn@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.