THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The theatre group is part of the department of German as a foreign language in the university of Regensburg and is directed by two members of the faculty of the department. It is at one and the same time a theatrical experience and a German course for all levels; students who take part in the preparation and performance of a play can obtain 6 ECTS credits (12 in all over two semesters). . In the University Theatre there are rehearsal rooms as well as a full stage
The Theatre group offers students a comprehensive access to German as a foreign language and in an inter-cultural environment provides training not just in language skills, but also in their personal presentation: working on voice protection, self-awareness of posture and movement, confidence in front of an audience are qualities which serve in a broader context than in every day student life.
Producing a play in a foreign language provides an opportunity of comprehensive training in language competence, but also ensures that German is not only the language of the play, but is the lingua franca of the group..
The Theatre Group provides, over and above the wide and varied choice of courses in the department of German as a foreign language, the opportunity to take part in a course undefined by level where the need to work in a team, to develop intercultural understanding and in this way to live a total language learning experience. The group is open to all non mother-tongue students and employees in Regensburg higher education institutions and this guarantees that the group will be heterogeneous with space for diverse cultures personalities and talents.
The aims are to promote holistic and stressfree learning of German, the integration of the participants in the University, training in teamwork and intercultural competence, together with gaining confidence in performing in German; it allows the performance to be rewarded with credits certifying the püerformance and the proficierncy displayed in doing it
There are weekly rehearsals, two intensive weekend workshops (and numerous individual rehearsals) over a period of two semesters during which a play by an author in German is worked on both for language and for theatrical performance together with covering the organisational and theatrical aspects of a production ( publicity, stage management, production of scenery, designing and making costumes) In this way German is the language of the play and the language of its organisation and members of the group learn to use a forei8gn language in a cooperative and constructive environment.
Under the leadership of two university teachers of German as a foreign language, Babylon forms a group in which a nine month process permits everyone’s experience, ideas and knowledge to contribute to the organisation and achievement of a theatrical performance.
The group has a large degree of egalitarian self-organisation and voluntary commitment – frequently very time-consuming. This has the advantage of strong motivation and the activation of affective aspects of learning a new language. Even when the group manages most conflicts internally and solves them with the interest of the production in mind, there is always the danger of having to cope with uncooperative members of the group.
•STRATEGIES USED FOR FOSTERING LEARNER MOTIVATION:
First of all, the pleasure of the group’s reactions in the rehearsals and the realisation that with each rehearsal there is a fuller understanding of a text in a foreign language and that one can make it comprehensible to an audience; a further reward is the attention and applause of the audience during the performance. In addition there are the countless hours of rehearsal, in individual and pronunciation rehearsal as well, which contribute to giving learners confidence in using German as the language of the play. The rehearsal weekends serve the elaboration of the performance of the play and the development of team spirit and finally, the shared responsibility for the success (or failure) of the project. And a lot of praise, as well.
•SYSTEM OF PROJECT EVALUATION USED:
One could see the texts with which the group members presented themselves in the theatre programme as a kind of qualitative guide and evidence of positive feedback - as well as embodying the desire to give pleasure to the reader, they are also expression of the confidence and friendship of the atmosphere in the group. Theatre is something which is experienced to a high degree in the moment of the stage performance and it is difficult to quantify the atmosphere in rehearsals and during the performances.
•OUTCOMES AND ‘DELIVERABLES’ PRODUCED:
Five performances to total audiences of 612, a printed programme, the recording of the performance on a DVD for group members and a certificate with university credits.
•CONSISTENCY OF THE OUTCOMES WITH INITIAL PLANS AND WITH THE EXPECTATION OF THE END USERS:
Even though a project lasting for nine months naturally developed over time, we can say that the original idea of providing space in which international students could develop their language learning has worked well.
In evidence of this , here are extract from the texts written for the programme by members of the group:
„To begin with I had no plans to take part in a play in Regensburg. In Italy I had been the narrator in a musical, but I intended to spend my time in here learning German and visiting Bavaria. When I heard about Babylon, I thought it would be a way to improve my German and to get to know people. And I was right. Ever since the beginning, I , and have had a lot of fun At the same time, I have not just widened my vocabulary, I have also broadened the horizons of my “world”. Through comparing different cultures I have learnt a lot, more than through books. I have no regrets at involving myself in this and every day I’m more and more convinced I made the right decision!“
„As a naïve exchange student fresh off the plane I had no idea which would be the best courses to take at the University. However, I was very happy to enroll in Babylon and have never regretted my choice. In the USA I have done a lot of acting, but this play is one of my favourites. In Babylon I have had a chance to make friends with people from all around the world. It’s a big challenge for me to act in a play in German and I made a lot of mistakes, For example, every time I wanted to say “furchtbar”I came out with “fruchtbar” and when I should have said “brüderchen” for ages I found myself saying “Brötchen” But with in the friendly and helpful environment of the Babylon Theatre Group, my German has improved enormously. I’d like to thank Babylon for a wonderful year and lots of real fun
•WAS AN ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALITY OF THE OUTCOMES CARRIED OUT? IF SO, WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING INDICATORS WERE USED?
The size of the audiences and the reactions of the group are to some degree the evidence we have to measure the quality of the course. Both of these indicators have been positive, but we have also been able to observe the progress of the participants in the level of succeeding courses they are taking.
The priority theme of the Language label awards was “Languages in the Community”, and in Babylon – as in any theatre group – a group working as a functioning commujnity is of the essence. This gave us the idea that would could apply to be awarded the label.
•MOTIVATIONS LEADING TO THE APPLICATION FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:.
the realization that our project – which was already up and running – corresponded to the criteria for the ELL 2011 in almost all the points.
•PROCEDURE USED FOR APPLYING FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:
Careful completion of the application form.
In general we can say that the original expectations were fully met.
A press release, announcement of the award of the Language Label on the homepage and publicity of the DAF department, and mention of the award in department publications.
•BENEFITS FOR THE INITIATIVE AND THE ORGANISATION(S) INVOLVED OF HAVING BEEN AWARDED THE ELL:
Additional motivation to continue with Babylon in new productions with new international students. The award was reported in regional media.
ADVICE ON HOW TO PLAN AND DEVELOP QUALITY LANGUAGE LEARNING INITIATIVES THAT CAN EXPECT TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR APPLICATION FOR THE ELL
Not easy to answer this question – our project corresponded very closely to the criteria and it was this which prompted our application.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The project showed a creative and original approach to developing language competence together with intercultural skills. It was based on a real life communicative experience with tangible results and cotributed to the integration of participants in the community. The project was open to all non-German speakers - students and employees - in the university community and in this way it is consistent with the aim of promoting inclusive policies and projects
It corresponded exactly with 2011 criterai of languages in the community.
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