Seminar für Englische Philologie


The main focus in research of the English Didactics Department in Göttingen lies in literature and culture didactics. In the following, we would like to present current research interests and projects. The exact bibliographical indications of the mentioned publications can be found in the publication lists of Prof. Dr. Carola Surkamp and her staff.

Literature Didactics

Literature didactics as a research focus in Göttingen deals with the teaching and reception of literary texts in their potential for foreign language classes. Today’'s learner-oriented, communicative classroom requires literature no less than traditional approaches did: more than anything, literature can contribute to triggering inter- and transcultural learning processes by making students adopt other perspectives while reading. The possibilities of new methodic approaches further increase the potential of teaching literature: The advantages of combining creative and analytical tasks when dealing with Anglophone literatures are demonstrated in the two monographs Englische Literatur unterrichten (Band 1: Grundlagen und Methoden; Band 2: Unterrichtsmodelle und Materialien; published with Ansgar Nünning). The contributions are based on a wide definition of texts (“erweiterter Textbegriff”) that does not only cover poetry, narrative and dramatic texts but also considers films and audio-plays. The latter are given much importance in the Department of English Didactics in Göttingen. The significance of action and production orientation in foreign language literature classes is further stressed by Göttingen’'s contribution to the volume Neue Ansätze und Konzepte der Literatur- und Kulturdidaktik, edited by Nünning/Hallet. To which extent such an approach to literature is possible and necessary in times of educational standards and competence orientation is discussed in the essay collection Literaturkompetenzen Englisch: Modellierung - Curriculum - Unterrichtsbeispiele (ed. by Hallet/Krämer/Surkamp, published 2015). The volume introduces a literary-based competence model for the foreign language classroom as well as a literary curriculum for the English language classroom. Furthermore, several teaching units for different learner groups and ages are presented. They show how the demands and the learning objectives of a competence-oriented English language classroom can be successfully implemented.

Using Media in the foreign language classroom (esp. films, audio-plays and pictures)

The teaching and learning of foreign languages can profit significantly from the use of new media: most obviously, audio-visual, visual and auditive texts offer students authentic opportunities to speak in the foreign language. Additionally, new media facilitate an (affective) approach to a foreign language by addressing different senses and thus illustrating nonverbal and paralinguistic dimensions of communication. As its title already suggests, the article "Spielfilme im Unterricht: Aktives Erleben statt passiver Konsum" (ed. by A. Sohns/R. Utikal) points out that action and production oriented tasks can increase an understanding of the specific ways in which the different media work, enabling the foreign language classroom to contribute to the development of media literacy.The special issues of the journal Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch on 'Teaching Films' (2004), 'Teaching Radio Plays' (2008) as well as 'Filme verstehen - Filme drehen' (2011) illustrate this. Some of the film didactical contributions from Göttingen deal in particular with literary film adaptations and film music (see list of publications). The identity-creating potential of films as well as the film as a medium of cultural representation is considered in the articles "A Cultural Approach to Films in the Foreign Language Classroom: Gender Roles and Questions of Identity in " and "Gender und die Suche nach Identität: Der Film Juno im fremdsprachlichen Klassenzimmer".

The fostering of visual literacy in the foreign language classroom is paid much attention in Göttingen. In March 2008, renowned subject didactics experts considered this topic from different perspectives during our conference 'Der Einsatz von Bildern im Fremdsprachenunterricht'. The proceedings of this conference can be found in the conference volume Bilder im Fremdsprachenunterricht: Neue Ansätze, Kompetenzen und Methoden (ed. Hecke/Surkamp). In the context of a interdisciplinary research cooperation, some of the language didactics of the universities of Bremen, Hannover and Göttingen are currently developing a cross-language and -cultural model for film literacy. The recent publication based on this cooperation Film in den Fächern der sprachlichen Bildung. Reihe Film Bildung Schule (ed. by Blell/Grünewald/Kepser/Surkamp, 2016) presents this model for the first time. Another volume published in 2016 is the theme-based essay collection '(Fremd-)Sprachenlernen mit Film' of the journal FLUL (Fremdsprachen Lehren und Lernen) (ed. by Blell/Surkamp). On the one hand the volume presents fields of competences connected to a foreign language film literacy and therefore also learning objectives for the language classroom. On the other hand several essays illustrate competence tasks for the work with film in different language classrooms.

Katharina Delius' PhD-project is situated in-between the fields of film didactics, drama-based methods and the fostering of speaking competences. In the course of a explorative study in a 6th grade of a comprehensive school in Göttingen she develops, tries out and evaluates teaching units to foster the speaking skills of the young learners.

Workung with drama and drama methods in foreign language teaching

Working with drama in foreign language teaching is a very important research focus in Göttingen. The 2015 published manual (ed. by Hallet/Surkamp) offers a detailed overview on different aims as well as didactical and methodological approaches in the complex field of working with this genre in the foreign language classroom. The first part of the book is dedicated to the educational political and systematical account on drama-based approaches in learning a foreign language. The essays of the second part of the manual offer different concepts, methods and hands-on applications for the work with drama and drama-based methods in the classroom. A new issue of Der Fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch on 'Dramapädagogik' (ed. by Elis/Surkamp, 2016) provides further teaching suggestions. The English Didactics Department in Göttingen is also concerned with the theatre as a place of foreign language learning.

Drama approaches can be very useful when applied to working with dramatic texts, but also in many different contexts. Their holistic approach, the enacting of and the immersion in other worlds are especially suited for foreign language teaching, very much so in regard to the learning goal of intercultural competence (also check the section “culture didactics”). Drama methods offer learners the opportunity to playfully act out social situations in a foreign language and are thus meaningful for the personal development of learners; this is further explored in "Handlungskompetenz und Identitätsbildung mit Dramentexten und durch Dramenmethoden" and "Soziales Lernen durch Theaterspielen: Das Thema 'Mobbing' im Kurzdrama Allie's Class". The manifold advantages of teaching and learning a foreign language with the help of drama methods are described in detail in numerous articles and have inspired projects in university teaching and in cooperation with other educational institutions. These approaches are thus applied and developed in university teaching and in schools in Göttingen by student teachers, as to be see in the article “'Theater machen' inszenieren. Dramapädagogische Methoden in der Lehrerbildung“. The academic exchange about drama methods was carried out – in a very lively atmosphere – in a corresponding study group launched by researchers from Göttingen on the ‚23. Kongress für Fachdidaktik der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Fremdsprachenforschung (DGFF) 2009 in Leipzig‘. Some of its results were published in the 1/2010 issue of the online journal 1/2010-Ausgabe Scenario. This platform considers itself a forum for the discussion and distribution of drama methods in foreign language teaching, and Göttingen’'s didactics department is represented on the Advisory Board. Furthermore, the application of drama methods in teacher training as well as in the English language classroom during the phase of transition from primary school to secondary school are the subjects of two dissertations (by Adrian Haack and Franziska Elis).

Culture Didactics

Learning a foreign language is inextricably linked to thinking about culture but culture is no longer considered to be a closed, objective unit. Instead, we recommend an understanding of culture informed by the field of Cultural Studies: regarding culture as process-related, open and symbolic draws attention to cultural representations in texts and media as well as to subjective constructions of meaning by the learners themselves. Teaching regional knowledge about a country is therefore replaced by the aim of fostering (inter-)cultural competence, sometimes complemented by an understanding of transculturality. The development of appropriate methods for these goals corresponds to the other key interests in Göttingen. Publications such as "Fremdes spielerisch verstehen lernen: Zum Potenzial dramatischer Texte und Zugangsformen im Fremdsprachenunterricht" or "Dramenunterricht als Kulturunterricht: analytische und szenische Zugangsformen zu Jane Harrisons Stolen" demonstrate possibilities of teaching new cultural perspectives through literature and drama methods.
The in 2015 published issue "Negotiating Gender" of Der Fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch (ed. by König/Decke-Cornill/Surkamp) illuminates the fruitful collaboration of a literary and cultural didactics with the objective of a critical-reflective dealing with gender. Articles such as " Que(e)rying Shakespeare. Mit Sonett 18 und Jugendliteratur Heteronormativität reflektieren" (König), "What Does It Mean to Teach About Gender? Gender Studies and Their Implications for Foreign Language Teaching" (König/Lewin/Surkamp), "Teaching Gender Reflection. Theoretische Grundlagen und literaturdidaktische Unterrichtsbeispiele für einen genderreflektierenden Englischunterricht? (König) as well as the PhD-thesis by Lotta König take a detailed insight into theory and practice of a cultural-oriented foreign language classroom.

Basics in the didactics of foreign languages

Aside of the specific key interests, we also explore the basics in the didactics of foreign languages. In the last decades, these basics have undergone significant changes: new theories and influences from the field of reference disciplines, a strengthening of the empirically oriented foreign language research and changes in education policies have triggered the development of a field that is not easy to grasp. As a reaction to this, the Metzler Lexikon Fremdsprachendidaktik (published 2010) was issued in Göttingen: this dictionary is the first of its kind in the German-speaking world to cover the most important research fields and objects for the didactics of foreign languages. A second updated and extended edition is the process of being published.