The didactics of foreign languages is the teaching of the teaching of foreign languages. It explores the processes of teaching and learning foreign languages in institutional contexts situated inside and outside of school. It deals with the aims of language teaching (communicative, inter-/transcultural, methodic, and aesthetic learning and personal development) and consequently with material, methods and media suited for achieving these aims. Describing the teaching and learning of foreign languages constitutes its major task, as well as the developing of suggestions for designing processes of teaching/learning foreign languages through content, method and lesson organization. Whereas the didactics of foreign languages was formerly understood as a sort of recipe for teaching, mostly derived from own experience, it has been undergoing a profound change since the 1970s. Firstly, empirical research is becoming increasingly important and secondly, the didactics of foreign languages refers much more to research on the teaching and learning of languages today as well as to other academic disciplines such as linguistic, literature and cultural studies, psychology and pedagogics.

The didactics of foreign languages can be divided into the didactics of language, literature and culture. All branches are geared towards the aims of foreign language classes, however, they pursue them with different priorities. The introduction that students attend in the course of their Bachelor’s degree gives an overview on the aims and contents of the didactics of foreign languages. During their Master’s degree, students can select advanced courses from the three different branches, which are often taught in combination, e.g. in courses on task-based learning. Additionally, workshops on how to produce films, how to stage theatre plays as well as how to produce audio plays in foreign language classes are offered to foster the productive use of new media.

Further reading on this topic:

  • Burwitz-Melzer, Eva, Mehlhorn, Grit, Riemer, Claudia, Bausch, Karl-Richard, Christ, Herbert & Krumm, Hans-Jürgen (Eds.) (2016). Handbuch Fremdsprachenunterricht. 6th ed. Tübingen: Francke.
  • Byram, Michael (Ed.) (2013). Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning. 2nd ed. London: Rutledge.
  • Hallet, Wolfgang & Königs, Frank G. (Eds.) (2010). Handbuch Fremdsprachendidaktik. Seelze-Velber: Klett-Kallmeyer.
  • Surkamp, Carola (Ed.) (2017). Lexikon Fremdsprachendidaktik. Ansätze - Methoden - Grundbegriffe. 2nd ed. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler.
  • Surkamp, Carola & Viebrock, Britta (Eds.) (2018). Teaching English as a Foreign Language: An Introduction. Stuttgart: Metzler.

You will find more basic literature in the ‚Basisbibliografie‘ (basic bibliography) in the download section on our website.