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TESOL / Advanced Academic English



Dr Lidia Agafonova (Saint Petersburg) Ronny Birnstein (Head of English at Agricola Gymnasium), Prof Josef Schmied (our Chair of English Language & Linguistics), the bust of Georgius Agricola, Prue Goredema (TESOL Coordinator) and Silvia Fehlberg (Principal of Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium)

Learning how the professionals tackle language classes and bilingual instruction is on the all-important to-do list for our MA3 Classroom Observation & Practical Language Teaching course, and thus we came to spend some time at Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium-Chemnitz. Students who participated in this course in Winter Semester 2017/18 had only good things to say about what they learnt about the skill it takes to bring a lesson plan to life – from staging and maintaining momentum to verifying whether the intended learning outcomes have been met.

After a semester of cooperation, it was time to touch base with the school principal, Silvia Fehlberg, who welcomed Prof Josef Schmied, Prue Goredema and visiting scholar Dr Lidia Agafonova of Herzen State Pedagogical University in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Fehlberg commented: "Whilst French, Spanish and even Latin each remain popular as a second foreign language in German schools, it is English that enjoys a place of prominence. We are pleased to be cooperating with the English Department of TU Chemnitz. After all – several of our teachers are alumni of your Department."

Keeping close tabs on what the dons down the road are up to is par for the course for Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium. It is designated a Paragraph IV school by the Saxony Ministry of Education (SBA) – boasting a specialisation in bilingual instruction whilst primarily catering to gifted children. Some of these Abitur students were fortunate to attend the academic writing workshops offered by the TESOL Section in the Spring and Winter of 2017.


Our Classroom Observation & Practical Language Teaching course would be incomplete without a trip to Dr-Wilhelm-André-Gymnasium to spend some time observing how to enact the demands of a curriculum designed for advanced learners. Since the winter semester of 2015/16, Sieglinde Spranger, Head of English at the school has rolled out the welcome mat for our students and has also spent time sharing some pearls of wisdom. As an evaluator and teacher trainer for the Saxony Ministry of Education, she divides her time between her own classroom and dozens of others around the school district.

"Classroom observation at Dr-Wilhelm-André-Gymnasium was an eye-opener," says third-semester student Sümmeyya Sarikaya. "The teacher made it all seem so simple. The way she gave instructions, her time management and the assortment of learner-centred activities – which included individual and group work as well as peer assessment – all made for a lively and productive lesson. I truly enjoyed the lesson and am thankful for the opportunity we had to spend time there."

Chemnitz Volkshochschule

The Chemnitz Volkshochschule (vocational school) offers myriad courses for adults seeking self improvement in everything from Acrylic Painting and Beekeeping to World Religions and Zumba Fitness. English is second only to German in popularity, with courses running the gamut from introductory grammar and conversational classes to Advanced and Business English courses. In light of a general goal to improve their use of ICT in language teaching, Manuela Zenker, the Head of Foreign Languages at the Chemnitz VHS, was happy to co-opt our MA3 students in an observation project that allowed us to evaluate standards in practice whilst identifying niches for eLearning innovation. "We are thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with the TESOL Section of the English Department," commented Zenker. "Your expertise in integrating various learning applications, media and services in classroom instruction is something we are looking forward to learning from. And if your students can improve their classroom skills at the same time, so much the better."

Our project began with an exploration of the standards used for English language teaching at the school. It was an opportunity to see how one particular teaching philosophy informs course design and classroom instruction. Certification is not the primary goal of instruction at a Volkshochschule, though that is not to say the teaching is completely handed over to a laissez-faire approach. The underlying ethos is humanistic, whereby the teacher facilitates learning through student-centred activities that engage the cognitive domain of learning without overlooking affective factors. The mandate is clear enough on paper; however, translating this brief in a classroom where students may be unaccustomed to such teaching is not without its challenges. Our students’ evaluations will form the basis of a final report on how the standards in place at the Chemnitz VHS are being implemented and how current practice can be transformed through the skilful and judicious integration of ICT in the service of English language learning. The project is ongoing.


The Saxcess Group is a new undertaking with its pulse on many aspects of education, research and innovation. Their endeavours in the educational domain are what brought us together in the Winter Semester of 2018/19. Based at Technology Campus, a stone’s throw from our Reichenhainer Straße base, Saxcess is one of our latest cooperation partners for the practical language teaching component of our TESOL module. This year, four of our MA3 students are learning the ropes of remedial teaching for their compulsory work placement and have taken on tasks at different primary and secondary schools, working with English language learners in preparatory courses and in the advanced Abitur stream.

"I teach three separate groups and am really enjoying learning on the job," says student Nazim Iabed, who started his work placement through Saxcess GmbH in September 2018. "Working in this capacity is uplifting for me; I am respected as a teacher and have a singular opportunity to gain classroom experience within a comfortable setting."

Stefanie Mesletzky, an HR executive at Saxcess said, "It’s a pleasure to be working with the TU Chemnitz. There is no one-size-fits all approach to learning and teaching, and we therefore bring schools, students and teachers together for tailor-made teaching of mutual benefit. After all, our motto at Saxcess is "Ich bin Klasse." (This means "I am great" with an added play on the classroom theme).


Please sign up for a slot in the 2020 Sprachunion/TU Chemnitz language course.

The TESOL specialisation is structured in such a way that after studying language acquisition theories, teaching methodology and the fundamentals of eLearning, and after observing the experts at work, it is time for our students to get into the driver’s seat. The Winter Semester of 2017/18 saw us launching a project with SprachUnion, a translation agency and language school based at the Chemnitz Technology Centre (TCC).

Three students took turns to teach a refresher course for professionals seeking to improve their speaking skills. Barbora Průšová, an Erasmus student from the University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic was the first to take the helm. "From the outset, I worked to establish a positive and safe atmosphere so that the participants would be comfortable expressing themselves, since the aim was for them to improve their speaking skills. Their level was in the A2 - B1 range of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages whereby the language learner can talk coherently about familiar topics pertaining to work and leisure."

Her fellow student-teacher Daniel Nam comments: "We had complete freedom to determine what was to be taught and how, and we therefore accommodated the specific requests of the course participants. Some lessons were focused on grammar, such as the highly requested lesson on when to use simple past and past perfect constructions, i.e. I was happy to teach them because I had come prepared."

Gaby Djele was the third and final teacher of the SprachUnion course. She commented: "The Classroom Observation & Practical Language Teaching course is all about learning by doing. We put our internalised knowledge of teaching into practice, and I am therefore happy that I have an extended work placement at SprachUnion."

The course participants gave positive feedback on the professional and competent teaching of the three MA3 students. Further collaboration with SprachUnion is in the works.

Studienkolleg Mittweida

Photo credit: Hochschule Mittweida

We are thrilled that our exploration of English language teaching in Saxony has this year ventured to the Studienkolleg der Hochschule Mittweida – Mittweida University of Applied Sciences. International students with an eye on German Higher Education often need preparatory courses in German and English, and the college is there to provide a wide range of courses tailored to cultivate students’ language competencies before they delve into their chosen specialisation. We were fortunate to be able to look in on and learn from English classes offered by Federica Modafferi who is based at the Chemnitz-Kapellenberg campus. “As much as I enjoyed opening my classes to the TU Chemnitz TESOL students, so too did I find the feedback you proffered to be insightful and beneficial to my ongoing professional development,” said Modaferri, a teacher who has cut her teeth instructing cohorts with different first languages and varying language proficiencies.

Third semester student Yixia Sun quipped: "I have experience teaching in a monocultural setting in China, so seeing how Ms Modafferi created a sense of camaraderie and cooperation in the lesson was very helpful."

TESOL Coordinator Prue Goredema commented, "The mode and manner of giving corrective feedback was particularly impressive. Inconsequential mistakes were left unchallenged where intervention would have been counterproductive in terms of completing a communication transaction; yet, explicit correction and various shades of elicitation were smoothly slotted into the discussion where stigmatised and global errors occurred. Overall, there was much exemplary teaching on display."

Mittweida UAS

Just as the Mittweida University of Applied Sciences introduced its BSc degree in Global Communication in Business and Culture in the winter semester of 2019/20, our students were on hand to observe how classroom veteran Ms Sarah Reader prepares her students for what would otherwise be daunting end-of-semester assessments. The students can either take the ‘in-house’ written exam, or they can sit the Cambridge BEC Vantage exam which tests students’ mettle in reading, writing, listening and speaking. With notebooks, pens and a dose of curiosity in tow, our MA3 students hopped onto the C14 tram for a smooth ride to the neighbouring town of Mittweida, where the lessons observed were equally smooth sailing.

Zwickau UAS

Whether one is headed for a career in science and industry, the health services or even an occupation on the artisan end of the professional scale, English language proficiency is an essential condition for qualification. Thus, our third semester students explored some language classes at Westsächsischen Hochschule Zwickau: the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences. Dr Michaela Rusch, herself an alumna of our very own English Department, opened her classroom to our third semester students. “Having your students over has been a great pleasure,” she commented. “They are keen to learn more, and after each session our conversations went on and on, as they posed questions on all and sundry: from the way the material was covered, how I give corrective feedback and also how I work with shy students to help them to use English with confidence, even if fluency is still a long way off.” Third semester student Carolin Isabel Steiner said, “I got much more than I bargained for when I observed Dr Rusch’s English lessons. I in fact intend to make time to observe even more lessons than the curricular requirements because I am very much enjoying learning from her experience, in a classroom that is relaxed and fun yet very much a place of higher learning.”


What made our time at Zwickau UAS particularly different this year was the fact that we also got to observe some German classes. Would our English majors espy any difference in the way German as a second language is taught, engaged with and learnt?

Teacher Julia Hartinger plys her trade instructing Beginners’ German and also German for Business. TESOL Coordinator Prue Goredema, MBS commented: “the sequencing of activities in Ms Hartinger’s lessons was by the book, and tasks that honed the learners’ productive skills were seamlessly integrated into a lesson that also covered vocabulary and structural elements of German. There was much for our students to learn this semester.”