Teaching degree students give online classes for Swedish school

Teaching an English class abroad – that is the goal of many student teachers for the subject English. In times of travel restrictions due to the pandemic, teaching degree students for the subject English at the KU are now embarking on this journey online. With this offer, the Chair of English Didactics reacts to current restrictions on travel and internships abroad and now enables its students to gain practical experience in online teaching formats at foreign schools.

Supervised by Dr. Sandra Stadler-Heer and OStR Andreas Reichel, 19 future English teachers taught pupils at the Swedish academic secondary school KITAS in Gothenburg "remotely" online for the first time in the current 2020/21 winter semester as part of the International Distance Teaching seminar.

The contact to Sweden was established by Andreas Reichel, who has been working as a seconded teacher at the KU since September. From his teaching activities at the Gymnasium Schrobenhausen, he was able to build on many years of cooperation with the Gothenburg school.

While the pandemic does not currently allow for face-to-face student exchanges, virtual meetings in video conferences have, however, become established as the means of choice for exchange in these times. Nevertheless, it was entirely new territory for the two project leaders to offer this innovative concept for the first time in close coordination with Professor Heiner Böttger. A total of 19 students in two parallel courses initially acquired theoretical knowledge in preparation for the challenge of ‘Distance Teaching’ in the first course phase in November. In the process, all participants became increasingly aware that experience and skills in distance teaching are undoubtedly becoming increasingly important in the job description of a highly professional teacher (especially due to the ongoing experiences gathered during the Covid 19 pandemic and its impact on schools): "We need to prepare teachers for different teaching formats and learning spaces both online and face-to-face already during the university phase of their training – to ensure that good foreign language teaching is possible", emphasizes Stadler-Heer. The practical phase with the Swedish school then started in December. Over a period of five weeks, a total of four online English lessons were held at the KITAS Gymnasium in Gothenburg, each by a team of students from Eichstätt.

One of the special features of the project was the cross-school composition of the teams: Future English teachers for elementary school, Mittelschule, Realschule and Gymnasium planned and also held the lessons together. "I had a lot of fun preparing and holding the lesson together with my fellow students", said future elementary school teacher Sissi Möß. "Because it was my first online lesson, it was very helpful to be able to exchange ideas with others during the preparation phase. In the implementation phase, it was also reassuring not to stand alone 'in front of the class' the first time and to be able to get support from my fellow students if needed." The relaxed and at the same time very competent manner of Alan Naluai, the Swedish teacher, also laid the foundation for four very successful lessons.

Together with the Swedish school students from grades 10 and 11, the future teachers covered both entertaining and challenging topics reaching from "Winter blues," "Christmas around the world," "Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," to "Martin Luther King Jr.” – with great fun and success for all parties involved. "The prospective teachers did a really great job. I don't think our students were really aware at the beginning that they were entering completely new territory with this project and that they were actually doing pioneering work here", says course instructor Andreas Reichel appreciatively. And Alan Naluai is also full of praise for the German-Swedish exchange project: "The didactic and technical possibilities of online teaching are immensely diverse, which is fantastic. My students and I have learned a lot", says the teacher from Gothenburg.

In order to make similar online teaching projects by students from abroad possible, they were not only prepared for the specifics of virtual interaction in video conferences and their integrated functions, but also introduced to a variety of interactive web tools for organizing and planning virtual classes. Currently, the new course format is intensively evaluated by all participants and further developed for the summer semester. Interested schools that also want to implement online classes can contact the team of the Professorship of English Didactics.