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Interview about the book

Bring the language onto the stage

The students should reach B1 language level with me, but they have already reached B2 through this project “ Amalia Sdroulia tells

  Claudia Ermel | 31.01.2019

At an idea competition of the society fund living together of the city Hannover the project of Dr. med. Amalia Sdroulia "bringing the language to the stage" won. After the successful realization of this idea Amalia Sdroulia also published a book about it. WiH invited the Greek-born teacher to talk about her experiences and her opinion on learning and teaching.

Amalia, could you introduce yourself to our readers ?

I come rom Greece and came to Germany 23 years ago in order to study German and Politics I currently work as a volunteer at the Leibniz Universität Hannover and teach German in adult education. I teach B1, B2 und C1 within the framework of the integration courses of BAMF, but also in the language centre at the university. I have also taught literacy courses in between times.

At the Ideas Competition of the City of Hannover your Pro Integration project "bringing the language to the stage" was one of the winners. What's it all about?

I'll tell you how I came up with the idea: When I came to Germany 23 years ago, I learned German myself and had a very low level. So I've always been looking for creative tools and strategies to improve my language learning skills. I was looking for a way of learning which was fun and also helped me learn more effectively. I tried everything possible, completely self-taught and creative. And when I started teaching German classes myself, from the teacher's point of view, I realized that the students had exactly the same problems as I did back then.

How did you find the individual participants for the project? Which age group are they from?

In all my courses I asked who wants to join a theatre project. And then there were some in each course. The age is 20-45. BAMF does not separate in the integration courses by age. The participants should simply acquire German language skills for study, training or work.

Then this motley group first did scenic writing with you?

Yes, but first we collected so-called chunks together. In books, we searched for phrases that can not be translated literally. Language learners should then be helped by these solid phrases when writing their own fantasy story. It was impressive what came out. The participants realized: "About me, about what I experienced, I can write a story. I can write much more than I thought. "

So there were also autobiographical texts?

Many are deeply traumatized, have had a lot of bad experiences. But I also saw that the students wrote very politically, freedom, equality, racism, human rights. Actually, everything is political and everyone is political.

And how exactly does this work with these chunks? How is it that language learners learn to express themselves faster and better?

German has a difficult grammar, which often consists of fixed phrases. Literally, such a thing can not be translated. I've always made mistakes here, I wanted to translate something literally from Greek. You can only really speak a language if you can also write the language. So together with the participants, I put together a list of phrases that would help us to write individual texts. Then I practised with the participants scenic writing.

And finally, there was a theatrical performance.

It was great what everyone had done in this short time. And it was impressive how her language skills had improved. My students started with B1 and I was surprised what they mastered after our exercises. That was already B2.

Anyway, not only was the project a lot of fun, but it was also well received by the audience.

On stage, some of my students even made the audience cry, because it was so intense what they had experienced and now replayed.

You said that the students were very political in their lyrics. Is that just the students who are so political, those with higher education?

No, there really was not a person who did not think politically. For example, I remember a participant who came from a craft business. After all, every human being is more or less political. Most students come from countries that do not respect human rights. They are very happy that they are here now, in a liberal-democratic country.

You still have contact with some of the other players from the theatre project afterwards.

Yes, they have achieved a lot in the meantime. Some study or do an apprenticeship. My sister, who is a doctor, has already been hired during the project. The drama has helped her a lot and has contributed a lot to her self-confidence.

And I now train in theatre education. My students got me to do a drama education now. First they learned from me, now I learned from them.

And now the next project is already in progress, for which the dates of the demonstration have just been determined in the middle of the year.

We will do the first theatrical performance in the recreational home Vahrenwald and then we may have an appointment with FAUST e.V. in Linden.

But as a final word we would now like to hear your view of didactics.

As I understand didactics: It is always a great pleasure to achieve something in life that others doubt. This is a happy moment when a person lives his life against stereotypical prejudices, with heart and passion, not just technique and logic, students should find their own style. Only in this way can we fully develop our potential. We are our best teachers ourselves. Just do what the heart says. With passion and not only with logic or reason.

Many teachers do not trust the students. Each person is an individual with individual talents, dreams and desires.

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Schirmherrin des Projekts Welt-in-Hannover.de ist Frau Doris Schröder-Köpf, Landesbeauftragte für Migration und Teilhabe.

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