Weiterbildungen Zweit-Sprachen-Lehrer*in: Englisch, Französisch, Russisch, Spanisch und Deutsch als Zweitsprache
The teaching of two modern languages from as early as the first grade, has been an integral part of the curricular offering at Steiner/ Waldorf schools since the founding of the Waldorf school in Stuttgart in 1919. Rudolf Steiner was very critical of the scientific narratives and epistemologies of his time, but in terms of language acquisition he encouraged teachers to deepen their scientific engagement with the teaching of additional languages in the approach he propagated in his educational work: “Steiner called for the future development of a ‘psychological’ science of language.
In so doing he was envisaging the extension of anthroposophical insights into the early stages of language development in the history of humankind (…) in the direction of an empirical ‘science’ of language that is ‘anthropological’…” (Kiersch, 1997:12) His theory of an inherent physiological speech organization/ organ(s) based on a sensory, neurological basis in human beings – a “sense of language with its own sense organ” (Kiersch 1997: 41) – provides an interesting link-up into contemporary neuro- and psycholinguistics. Steiner/ Waldorf language teaching can therefore be situated within a larger contemporary movement towards natural language acquisition and learning, where the educational practice endeavors to imitate and mimic the process of first language acquisition within the artificial setting of a classroom.
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Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell (1983: 24) describe a natural approach to language teaching in the following way: “The first principle of (a natural approach) is that comprehension precedes production i.e., listening (or reading) comprehension precedes speaking (or writing) abilities… (and secondly), production is allowed to emerge in stages… (1) response by non-verbal communication, (2) response with a single word… (3) combinations of two or three words… (4) phrases… (5) sentences, and finally (6) more complex discourse.
Grammatical accuracy is very low in early stages and increases slowly with increased opportunities for communicative interaction and acquisition… Students are not forced to speak before they are ready… (and) speech errors which do not interfere with communication are not corrected… Thirdly, the syllabus consists of communicative goals… (and) each classroom activity is organized by topic and not grammatical structure… (and) the final principle is that the activities done in the classroom aimed at acquisition must foster a lowering of the affective filter of the students.
Activities in the classroom focus at all times on topics which are interesting and relevant to the students and encourage them to express their ideas, opinions, desires, emotions and feelings. An environment which is conducive to acquisition must be created by the instructor – low anxiety level, good rapport with the teacher, friendly relationship with other students; otherwise acquisition will be impossible. Such an atmosphere is not a luxury but a necessity.”
Steiner/ Waldorf language teaching requires a special kind of teacher: one who does not understand education as a kind of science, method or technique, but understands education as an art in and of itself: “Considering teaching as an art implies not only a different understanding, but requires adopting a different framework of knowledge as well. In the arts there are clearly ways of knowing that cannot be represented within the measurable, objective domains of traditional science and education. The musician’s sensitivity to nuances of tone, the actor’s to voice and gesture, the clown’s to the possibilities of improvisation, all represent forms of knowledge and expression which do not lend themselves easily to rational, scientific discourse. Nor do they represent the type of knowledge which most educational research and theory has propagated as essential in teacher education, or for that matter, for pupils in their schooling. At the same time they are all, incontrovertibly, examples of highly precise and expressive ways of knowing and acting.” (Lutzker, 2007)