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More Humor in Class

Communication and education experts from across Germany meet at Chemnitz University

Speech and communication experts from all over Germany met for the third meeting of the expert working group “Spielbasierte Kompetenzentwicklung” (game-based skill development) at Chemnitz University from September 18 till 20, 2017. Subject of the meeting: “Humor in Teaching”. The questions on how to improve communication skills of future teachers and how the application of theater pedagogy methods can further develop higher education classes were primarily discussed. The meeting was organized and lead by Chemnitz speech scientist Ronald Herzog and his Leipzig colleague Susanne Krämer. The “Spielbasierte Kompetenzentwicklung” expert working group is funded by the Saxon Center for Research on Higher Education and Faculty Development in the framework of the joint project “Lehrpraxis im Transfer plus” (Teaching methods in transfer plus).

Since 2015, the seminar “SprechWerkstatt” (SpeechWorkshop) at Chemnitz University offers a game-based concept for the development of vocal-communicative skills for teachers. Over the course of a semester the participants develop a stage production with speech-art related focus. They can focus on “text composition”, “direction”, “music”, or “costumes” but are simultaneously contributing to the whole project. “We try to enhance the communicative repertoire of the students instead of teaching them isolated speech skills. Game-based methods and concepts such as the “Sprechwerkstatt” not only train voice and speech but also promote talent and develop communicative self-confidence”, says Ronald Herzog.

Distance and Balance through Humor

An important aspect of the meeting was the communicative function of humor. “Humor creates the necessary distance to be able to cope with difficult situations. Furthermore, humor plays a significant aspect in a positive teaching environment,” says Susanne Krämer of the Zentrum für Lehrerbildung und Schulforschung of the Universität Leipzig. Together with Chemnitz University researcher Ronald Herzog of the Chemnitz ZLB, she established the expert working group “Spielbasierte Kompetenzentwicklung”. Humor is not only important in the relationship of teacher and pupils but also an important factor contributing to the health status of teachers.

Gesture Research at Chemnitz University of Technology

Gestures have always been a part of human communication – some scientists believe them to be older than spoken language. Systematic scientific research on gestures, however, has only been conducted for a couple of decades. Ellen Fricke holds the chair for German Linguistics, Semiotics, and Multimodal Communication at the University of Technology Chemnitz. One of her research areas is the interaction between gestures and spoken language in face-to-face communication, aiming towards a description that integrates gesture and speech into a multimodal grammar.

The by Prof. Fricke scientifically accompanied special exhibition “Gestures – in past, present, and future” in the Chemnitz Industry Museum combines art, science, and technological applications from November 17, 2017, until March 4, 2018.

Ronald Herzog, email Ronald.herzog@phil.tu-chemnitz.de phone +49 371 531 38447

Susanne Krämer, email Susanne.kraemer@uni.leipzig.de phone +49 341 9730483

Matthias Fejes

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