I co-created and implemented a lesson plan in a first-semester collegiate German course. My goal was to create instructional materials that reduce the language-culture divide contributing to curricular bifurcation in collegiate language departments. The lesson centered on a music video advertisement for the Berlin public transportation system and had three main sections: pre-viewing, during, and post-viewing. Using guided reading and a multiliteracies framework, I collectively unpacked the text with my students to make meaning—culturally, linguistically, and in between.
The first, pre-viewing step activated students’ prior knowledge, scaffolded language, and elicited expectations. In an initial activity, students considered the types of transportation present in their city and in Berlin.
The next, viewing step, began with an initial viewing guided by questions aimed at global understanding. These questions directed students to think about the people in the video including the protagonist. I facilitated a discussion of these questions in German, but allowed for code-switching. The opening discussion was followed by a second, detailed viewing during which students read along with a lyric sheet aided by a glossary of new vocabulary. I then facilitated a discussion connecting selected lyrics with possible meanings and implications. There was also an opportunity to discuss aesthetic language choices and rhythm. A third critical viewing followed. Students used tables to categorize the lyrics into themes. They also responded to thought-provoking questions that highlight the multimodality of the music video genre, for example, “How is the main topic reflected in the video (not just in the words)?” and “What do the images and the music say about Berlin, the viewers of such a commercial, and Germany?” By using linguistic, aural, and visual textual evidence, students were able to consider and interpret the text’s main message, appearances, formality, multiculturalism, and genre.
In a final, post-viewing step, students created and reflected. Students developed their own texts based on the message, music, and rhythm of the model text. Students began by writing six-line verses on their own as homework. They then collaborated during the following class meeting to combine the verses into a coherent text. Finally, students wrote individual structured reflections on the text in English. This step allowed students to both consolidate their understanding of the text as a meaningful cultural-linguistic artifact and analyze how this understanding applies to larger intercultural themes.
After a pilot run, three fellow instructors and I revised the lesson plan and submitted it to the FLLITE repository (http://fllite.org). We hope that other instructors can modify the lesson plan to fit their needs, whether that means expanding the content into a unit about multiculturalism, or cutting content that goes beyond their learning goals. We then wrote a reflective best practices piece, currently under review for Die Unterrichtspraxis, to share our journey and encourage other language instructors to create and modify OER teaching materials.