Essential Strategies and Initiatives

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How do I maintain, strengthen, and grow a vibrant German Program?

In order to have a successful German program, instructors at all levels need to be great teachers and advocates of German and their programs. One way German programs have been successful is through an active German Club which sponsors conversation hours, breakfasts, film screenings, excursions, fests, study abroad trips, and other exciting events. The following suggestions are appropriate for all instructors in K-16.

Involve Students and Parents
Target Administrators, Guidance Counselors and Colleagues
Cultivate Public Relations
Keep up with your professional community

 

Involve Students and Parents

  • Make sure your students understand the value of learning German and engage them in advocating for the program.
  • Create student exchange opportunities (e.g. GAPP) and offer to chaperone them.
  • Inform your students about internships in Germany and German-speaking countries. Encourage them to apply for Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, Bosch Fellowships, DAAD stipends, etc. and help them with the application.
  • Induct your students in the National German Honor Society.
  • Offer the National German Exam.
  • Keep the parents and taxpayers in your community involved as chaperones and supporters of your German program.
  • Take part in events for prospective students and promote the study of German in campus events (major fairs, study abroad fairs, student clubs, receptions, open houses, parent evenings, etc.).
  • Sponsor a German club at your school.
  • Develop and participate in school or community International Days.
  • Explore German Day activities: participate in large one or host a small one for 2-3 high schools.
  • Offer exploratory or after-school enrichment classes at your feeder school that doesn’t have a German program otherwise.

Target Administrators, Guidance Counselors and Colleagues

  • Administrators should be well informed so that they can advocate for your program. Keep your administration updated about all events and activities in your German program, your students’ achievements (e.g., good scores on the National German Exam) and your professional accomplishments.
  • Guidance counselors can greatly influence the choices students make. Make sure that they are well informed, understand the role German plays in today’s world, and know that the German program offers top quality instruction. Give them a list of German programs at local colleges that many of your students attend, be it the local community college, the small liberal arts school, or the large state institution. Provide information about AP or IB programs and transferring credits for college.
  • Present information about study and scholarship opportunities for learners of German in the US and abroad to your administration and guidance counselors.
  • If your program is threated, organize a letter writing campaign targeting decision makers such as school administrators, board of trustees, local officials, and state legislators.
  • Visit policy makers at all levels of government personally and make sure that they understand the value that learning German provides to the local community.
  • Testify before state legislative committees and US Congressional committees on policy issues.

Cultivate Public Relations

  • Maintain an active website, Facebook and Twitter presence.
  • Advertise German-related events in your school newsletter or student newspaper.
  • Make German visible on your campus with bulletin boards, foreign language film festivals, articles in local newspapers, promotional materials, participation in major campus events etc.
  • Invite local media (through your school’s PR office) to cover news-worthy events of your German program (e.g. Oktoberfest, National German Exam, Student exchange, etc.)
  • Recognize supporters of your program with certificates of recognition or nomination for state and national awards.
  • Connect with recent alumni who have continued their study of German or are using German in their careers. Invite them as guest speakers and share their success stories on your website, in school publications or the local press.
  • Develop reciprocal visits between high school and college. Develop projects so that college students or other guest speakers can visit high school classes and give presentations (e.g. on German culture, German in college, study abroad).
  • Invite exchange students from Germany and German-speaking members of your community as guest speakers to campus.
  • Establish close working relationships with local German companies, German American Chamber of Commerce, German clubs and keep them involved in your program.

Keep up with your professional community

  • Be an active member of local, state, regional, and national language associations to keep up with the latest professional news and create a network of advocates for your program.
  • Join AATG and attend their meeting and workshops.
  • Get to know your local German language consultant.
  • Contact your local Goethe-Institut Trainer for professional development opportunities.
  • Host and organize local pedagogy workshops and foreign language teacher meetings or host an immersion weekend in cooperation with your local AATG chapter.
  • Know how the educational priorities are determined and who the major decision makers are on your campus and in your institution. Get to know the key players personally and keep them informed about your program.
  • Know how languages fit into the mission statement of your institution and make sure others understand the importance of German instruction.
  • Become an administrator or union officer to get to know how budgets are allocated, hone strategies for organizing advocacy campaigns, and learn the ins and outs of collective bargaining.