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What is English Studies in 2018?

Students and teachers quench their curiosity at InfoQuest 2018

On Tuesday 27 February 2018, 35 Year Eleven and Twelve pupils from Gymnasium Marienberg and Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium Chemnitz braved the cold to participate in InfoQuest 2018, a biennial fair on the state of English Studies hosted by the English Department at the Altes Heizhaus.

In her plenary speech, Head of English Department Professor Cecile Sandten explained how, despite the diversification of programmes and curricula offered at tertiary institutions nationwide, English remains the one essential commonality.  This goes beyond basic communicative competence.  “Our courses run the gamut from those aimed at pre-service primary school teachers in the Lehramt für Grundschule programme to those designed with budding scientists in mind.  The Energy Efficiency & Englishes Bachelor of Science degree we offer in our Department is a case in point,” she said. “Students get to enrol at the Mittweida University of Applied Sciences alongside their registration at the Chemnitz University of Technology, and over the course of six semesters, they take courses not only in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Project Management, but also in English Linguistics, Literature and British and American Cultural & Social Studies, amongst others.”

Representing Mittweida, PD Dr Gunter Süß of Mittweida was pleased at the chance to update the InfoQuest participants on how the inter-disciplinary BSc EEE degree – introduced only in October 2015 – has been received.  “Interest in the degree has been growing in leaps and bounds,” he gushed.  “In fact, we have recently received funding for a student-led project under the auspices of LiT+ (Lehrpraxis im Transfer Plus)so there is no question that the double-bachelor model is gaining in popularity,” he added.

The efficacy of integrating content and language learning is supported not only in the literature, but also by those who ply their trade at bilingual instruction.  InfoQuest 2018 attendant Ronny Birnstein, Head of English at Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium, is testament to this, for he teaches Geography using English as a medium of instruction.  “InfoQuest 2018 has cemented in our pupils’ minds just how diverse the possibilities are for those who choose TU Chemnitz, or indeed, the programme shared with Mittweida,” he commented.

But even for those who choose to pursue a traditional English & American Studies degree without the trimmings, what was made clear at InfoQuest 2018 is that there are many intertwined sub-disciplines to delve into. For example, Sociolinguist Dana Ebermann tested participants’ powers of discernment by having them listen to and identify an assortment of English accents, and she then explained the underlying phonological principles that distinguish a Scottish brogue from a Delhi dialect.

Also manning booths were Mandy Beck of the English Literatures Professorship and Daniel Ziesche, representing the British and American Cultural & Social Studies Chair.

Event organiser Prue Goredema, the Coordinator of the TESOL Section of the English Department explained, “The biennial InfoQuest fair allows us to give back to our cooperation partners in the region.  In our MA degree, third semester students get to take Classroom Observation & Practical Language Teaching, a blended course in which they tackle in-class and online exercises in addition to undertaking multiple learning and evaluation visits to the Chemnitz Volkshochschule, Dr-Wilhelm-André-Gymnasium and Georgius-Agricola-Gymnasium Chemnitz.”

She continued, “Throughout the past year, our Department has also cooperated with Gymnasium Marienberg, through a series of workshops on various aspects of Rhetoric and Academic Writing, and we are pleased for the chance to have crowned a year of hard work with a well-received fair.”

Kerstin Walther, Head of English at Gymnasium Marienberg added, “Coming to InfoQuest 2018 was a day well-spent.  Not only have our pupils found it to be informative and enjoyable, but so too have I.  We are very fortunate to have ready access to the dons of the English Department.  The Chemnitz University of Technology is now seen as a top contender for students making up their minds about where to study.”

The participants’ favourable reviews of the university were evident in the online survey spearheaded by TESOL student Shima Asadi, a direct beneficiary of the semester of cooperation.  The pupils got to try out the novelty of using response-ware for diagnostic assessment, in what was an enjoyable and eye-opening exercise that whetted their appetite for more of TU Chemnitz.

Postgrads Anna Paul, Federica Modafferi and Marina Ivanova gave InfoQuest attendants first-hand information on campus life, the ever-popular English Club and on what the compulsory semester abroad entails, whilst Natalie Pohle of TU4U’s Central Course Guidance Services was on hand to explain the application procedure and to give attendees a glimpse of the vibrant extra-curricular activities to be found in Chemnitz. 

More information on our TESOL course (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) can be found here: www.tu-chemnitz.de/phil/english/sections/tesol/

(Author: Prue Goredema)

Matthias Fejes

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