Welcome to Grenzenlos Deutsch, an open-access German curriculum for the first year of language learning!
This full-year curriculum is intended as a no-cost alternative to current, more traditional textbooks in the field. It mixes materials rooted in real-world, contemporary communication scenarios, multimedia content, and online learning activities.The Grenzenlos curriculum ensures that the topics of discussion in the language classroom are relevant to and reflect today’s world.
We seek to employ more diverse voices and contemporary perspectives in our curriculum. Specifically, we include content areas on social and environmental sustainability, non-traditional families, and diverse expressions of “culture.” Rather than only including audio/video tracks of native German speakers, a trend that limits the diversity of the course material, we also include non-native speakers with high proficiency to reflect the real world of speaking German in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland today. At a time when gender nonconforming students are struggling to find the vocabulary and tools to represent themselves in the classroom and beyond, this curriculum also addresses the question of gender and language head on in a series of cultural notes about gender and language and with the presentation of several commonly acceptable workarounds for gendered nouns. In short, students and teachers will be able to see themselves and the world they experience reflected in the curriculum.
We are taking advantage of the digital medium to create a different type of curriculum: a series of lessons that could be ordered in different ways to create a learning experience that is shaped by the instructor and by the interest of the students. In other words, instructors could move throughout our curriculum in various ways, rather than progressing from A to B to C. After completing several units at the first level, faculty and students together might decide which topics they would like to revisit at a higher level of difficulty. Thus, we have developed a number of modules or content areas that can be revisited throughout the course—but with layers of content that increase in difficulty and that expand upon the material; each module has three units that spiral up in the level of difficulty. For example, every beginning language textbook includes a chapter or section on family, introducing the basic vocabulary for family members and inviting students to describe their own families while they read and hear descriptions of other families. We include a unit like this, but then we invite students to revisit the topic of family later in the semester to review the vocabulary but also to expand the discussion—to include alternative constructions of the family and of friendship (in the second level of difficulty or second unit) and diverse celebrations of cultural holidays (in the third level of difficulty or third unit). Recycling and revisiting the material from previous units will not only solidify student learning, but also allow students to build on what they already know as they increase the complexity of their linguistic and cultural proficiency.
Finally, this project conforms to the “open” nature of open educational resources (OER). We have intentionally selected authoring tools that are freely available online and that allow instructors to adapt and revise the materials as they see fit. Thus, we decided to use WordPress and H5P tools. These H5P tools easily allow instructors to share and reuse: each individual H5P activity can be downloaded, then revised, embedded and/or remixed into an existing curriculum. While we have gathered our own video and photo material, we also make use of other open materials available through Creative Commons: images of objects, for example, or other videos produced under the Creative Commons license. We enthusiastically support the Creative Commons, and are making our images and video available for non-commercial re-use.
We hope you enjoy learning and teaching German with Grenzenlos Deutsch! And please understand that this site is currently under construction. We will add new modules and units as they are available.
Dr. Brigetta M. Abel, Macalester College
Dr. Amy Young, Central College
Lead Authors of Grenzenlos Deutsch