New vocabulary: mask, disinfectant, Warnapp – How Corona changed our German lessons

From March to May our language school was closed due to the restrictions of the Covid19 pandemic. In this article we would like to tell you how the participants and the teachers experienced this situation and what is different now.

Our language trainer with more than 100 exercises

As more and more restrictions on day-to-day life were implemented in Germany, the participants of our Integration Course started to learn new health-related vocabulary in their lessons. Nobody could have guessed how much the topic would still be on their minds in the months to come. “From one week to the following week it was clear that we would have to close the school temporarily,” explains Silvia Hepach, teacher of this course. And while the participants stayed at home from that point on, we worked hard from home to find possibilities for online teaching. “I stayed in contact with the participants via WhatsApp and sent them not only homework but also the regulations of the Free State of Saxony,” Silvia remembers. “The participants showed great understanding for the closing.” During this time, our teachers and our IT trainer Thomas developed more and more online exercises. There are now more than 100 single exercises online that we can offer the participants.

From April on, the participants used online training via the VHS-learning portal. Our teachers Silvia and Mareike were their tutors and assigned individual exercises to each participant. This was not only a new situation for them, but also the first experience with online German learning for many participants. Waala from Syria found the experience good. “We mainly practiced grammar and reading.” Adel from France added: “The exercises were done step by step, not too fast.” But online exercises are no substitute for face-to-face classes. Group work and conversation are essential to learning German.

Waala has started learning German in our A1 course in February. Adel liked online learning very much. The change was difficult for Mahmoud.
Participants in the B1 course prepare for the German Test for Immigrants.

For three weeks now, classes have been taking place face-to-face again. In the B1 course, everyone sits at one table on their own except the couples – so the participants can keep their distance. Teacher Mareike Betz is glad that the lessons could start again so quickly. “We’re about to take the exam, so it’s important to talk a lot in German.”

At the A1 course everyone wears a mask and keeps their distance. Do you think it was a change for you? Everyone nods. “But it works,” says Mahmoud. Silvia speaks louder now and keeps airing the room. What changed in class? “I still try to enable partner and group work. This is also possible with 1.5m distance.” But there are less games in class – cubes that are touched by everyone present a risk of infection.

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