How am I supposed to teach a weak student

School in transition : What really helps weak students

Ms. Lütke, the German students improved in the last Pisa study in 2012, but when it comes to reading, there is still too large a risk group of students who only achieve a lower level of competence. Do you expect another leap forward for Pisa in 2015?
Much has been done in the area of ​​school reading promotion and research is being carried out at the same time. What is still missing in some cases, however, are targeted support concepts: What do we have to offer children from socially disadvantaged families who have no reading role models, for example? What linguistic aids do children with little knowledge of German need in order to cope with specialist lessons? It is therefore not surprising that there is still too large a group that has problems understanding simple texts. Nevertheless, I am assuming a positive trend in current Pisa reading performance - if only because there have been major funding efforts for over a decade, even if they are still too unspecific.
What should optimal language and reading promotion for children and young people from families in which German is spoken at a low level and not read for pleasure look like?
Even small children have to come into contact with the patterns of written language. This works well with audio books and picture books. Kindergarten teachers shouldn't just read aloud, they should talk to the children about pictures and texts. In school, you have to work systematically on reading fluency. It is practiced, for example, by reading half aloud, mumbled or reading in tandem. The better readers draw the weaker ones into a reading flow. Only those who can read fluently, i.e. automatically, read with understanding. This should be trained three times a week for 20 minutes over several months.
What effects does the excessive demands of many teachers with increasingly heterogeneous classes have on their dealings with students?
A large part of the teaching staff active today was trained when German as a second language was not yet an issue in teacher training for all subjects. Many teach from a monolingual, monocultural perspective. Anyone who equates linguistic difficulties with technical learning problems can overlook the actual strengths of their students. So it has just been proven again for Berlin that those growing up multilingual have no disadvantages in the foreign languages, but often advantages. On the other hand, we cannot ask too much of the teachers: there has still been little research into which language-building teaching concepts have a positive effect on heterogeneous groups.
What approaches are there already for successful teaching?
Studies from the USA suggest that a very structured lesson can help: the teachers have linguistic and technical objectives for each lesson and integrate language support into the subject. It is also important to understand language promotion as a goal for the whole school. Schools have to get help for this, network with each other and with experts from outside.
Her professorship for German as a second language is the first of its kind in Berlin. And yet the name is out of date again. Because instead of DaZ, today it should be about more comprehensive language education. What does it mean?
The didactic occupation with German as a second language has developed from the need for support of children from families with a migration background who speak little or no German at home. Statistically, these families are more likely to have a low social status, which has a negative impact on school performance. However, my professorship is geared towards all students who need to be trained in languages. This also includes children and young people with German as their first language and a need for language support.
The canon of subjects that DaZ and language education are aiming at today is also more comprehensive: Teachers have to cater to different language levels in all subjects. How open are the subject didactics to this?
Open to varying degrees, although everyone should now know that language skills have an impact on all subjects. Nevertheless, this is a young field that still needs a lot of research. Mathematics didactics already deal intensively with the role and function of language for technical learning. It's no longer just about why students don't understand word problems. It generally makes mathematical learning more difficult if students cannot explain and justify arithmetic methods.
How interested are the student teachers in the DaZ module, which has been compulsory since 2007/08 and which was expanded a year ago?
In any case, they see the need! They know that regardless of the type of school, there are no longer any homogeneous classes. In the new Berlin internship semester in the teaching degree, you will experience the whole range - and come to the university with many questions about lesson planning. If I deal with the Middle Ages in history lessons: How do I deal with the fact that many students have no prior knowledge of the Middle Ages in terms of language and content? How can I support them linguistically so that they can work on the topic?
What does this support ideally look like?
Linguistic patterns that students need to know in order to follow the lesson are much more complex than everyday language. This educational language is about vocabulary and grammar, about certain types of text, about describing, reporting and justifying. In mathematics, arguments are made differently than in German. Scaffolding is a very promising approach: The teachers build a kind of framework from linguistic assistance that is dismantled bit by bit, the more linguistic skills the students have. In the first description of an experiment with boiling water, for example, pupils say: "There is so much smoke rising." The teacher picks up on this and says: "Yes, the water evaporates." consolidate.
At the same time, it is required that teachers need basic knowledge of the grammatical peculiarities of the family languages ​​of their students in order to be able to teach them German better. Do teachers really have to and can do that?
Of course, not every teacher can know the over 100 languages ​​of origin that the Berlin students bring with them. But it is important to know that there are differently structured languages ​​and writing systems that can lead to difficulties in learning German. But the most important thing is to be language sensitive. A classic is that children transmit verb forms: he played, he came. This should not be pointed out as a grammatical error, but rather recognized as a feature of language acquisition. Anyone who knows that German is acquired differently as a second language simply judges linguistic performance more appropriately.
The red-red-green coalition in Berlin wants to strengthen multilingualism. There is no finished model for it yet. What would you advise?
First of all, I think it's great that politics is now taking a positive view of multilingualism. It has been seen as a deficit for too long. We now urgently need further training in order to put into practice the ideas of how multilingualism can be used meaningfully in the classroom. The demand is huge, there are currently no offers.
What are these ideas?
The linguistic resources of the children should be integrated: for example, by allowing them to exchange ideas in group work on a new topic in all the languages ​​available to them in order to activate their previous knowledge. To get started with the topic of "Middle Ages", you can also talk about films or fantasy games in your family languages. Then the topic is continued in the language of instruction, German, texts are read and written.
Amory Burchard conducted the conversation with the German didactic specialist Beate Lütke. Lütke (47) has been professor for didactics of the German language / German as a second language at the Humboldt University since November and heads the "Languages ​​- Education - Chances" project.

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