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GERMAN 3.0
German in India

The baton is passed | Photo: Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi

Looking back ahead: With a GERMAN 3.0 conference on November 29th and 30th, a series of events came to an end in Mumbai, with which the whole of 2014 celebrated the anniversary “100 years of German teaching in India”. The conference, from which the baton was carried to the ENGLISH 3.0 closing event in Berlin, was less about looking back and more about looking ahead.

At the joint invitation of the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, the University of Mumbai and the Indian German teacher association InDaF, German teachers and representatives of Indian and German educational institutions and publishers discussed the present and future of German learning and teaching (not only) in India for a weekend new impulses and inspiration for lessons in workshops.

German (e) in India

Pointing out that the history of Germans and Germans in India goes back much further than the "100 Years of German Lessons" that was celebrated this year was close to the heart of the Managing Director of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, Bernhard Steinrücke. In his greeting, he therefore looked back on no less than three hundred years of German-Indian (language) relations in an estimated one and a half minutes.

From Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, who founded an Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Tranquebar in 1707 and made a name for himself as a linguist with research on the Indian languages ​​Tamil, Kannada and Telugu, he covered Hermann Gundert, who came to India 150 years ago and himself made merit here for the research of the South Indian language Malayalam, up to the Indologist Max Müller, whose scientific interest included Sanskrit and whose name the Goethe-Institut in India still bears in the name today.

Not only the enthusiasm radiated by Steinrücke and the previous opening speech by Hermann Funk from the University of Jena, who gave a lecture on “Principles and Standards of Good Teaching”, but also the presentation by Philipp Haußmann and Elizabeth Webster from Ernst Klett Verlag, who spoke about the background and considerations for reported the current development of teaching materials in their house, as well as the subsequent panel discussion moderated by Hans-Jürgen Krumm, who had traveled from Vienna, on "Quality development and quality assurance" in German teaching quickly lulled the audience into the certainty that it was the right decision to come to Mumbai.

Rising demand

Teaching materials | Photo: Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi While in Germany, in the course of the internationalization of universities, more and more (master's) courses are being converted to English, more and more Indians are learning German. Some also to study in Germany. While the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) counted 5,745 Indians studying in Germany in 2012, there were already 9,616 in the 2013/2014 winter semester.

"The rapidly growing interest in the German language here in India made it obvious to not only deal with the past in the anniversary year, but above all to ask how things can continue", says Alicia Padrós from the Goethe-Institut New Delhi, On their initiative, the conference was therefore designed as part of the DEUTSCH 3.0 project and Mumbai was chosen as the venue. And Beata Weber from the Goethe Institute in Mumbai, who organized the conference with her team, “It was particularly important to bring the German department of the University of Mumbai and the Indian German teachers' association InDaF on board as partners, with whom we already have Working together well for a long time and with whom we want to work even more closely in the future.

Markus Biechele, Head of Language Work South Asia at the Goethe Institute, added: "In view of the constantly growing demand for German lessons, especially here in India, it is more important than ever that we create synergies between the various actors involved in German education."

"German at 1,000 schools"

The growing popularity of the German language in India is not only noticeable in the corresponding offers of private schools and the Goethe-Instituts in the country, which have been pleased about the growing interest in their language courses for years. The state schools have also responded to the increasing demand.

After a pilot phase started in 2009, since 2011 the pupils at more and more schools of the state educational institution Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), where mainly children are taught by state employees, have been able to choose German as their third language after the national languages ​​Hindi and English. An offer that almost 80,000 pupils at 500 schools took advantage of in 2014. In total, almost 110,000 children are currently learning German at Indian secondary schools alone.

Inspirational workshops and lively discussions

The conference weekend in Mumbai was packed with interesting specialist lectures, inspiring workshops and lively discussions. During the breaks you had the opportunity to get ideas for the to get your own work.

The DAAD was also represented with a stand where you could find out about scholarship and study opportunities in Germany. The total of 22 workshops covered a wide range of topics related to teaching German as a foreign language - starting with new findings on the neurodidactic basics of learning, through the use of short films, literature, music and theater-pedagogical games in the classroom, to questions about the German and Austrian regional studies and the right practice.

"Multilingualism makes you smart"

Interesting lectures | Photo: Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi After Ursula Hirschfeld had prepared the conference community for the second day with her specialist lecture on "Pronunciation standards and variants in German", which was loosened up by numerous and sometimes extremely amusing audio examples After the workshops that followed, everyone got together again in a large group for a “German-Indian dialogue lecture”. Under the title “Language Competition or Multilingualism”, Pramod Talgeri and Hans-Jürgen Krumm made fundamental “thoughts on the role of the German language in a multilingual world”. A topic that one could hardly have imagined in a better place to discuss than the Indian megacity Mumbai, where more languages ​​are spoken next to each other than in any other metropolis in the world.

In India, according to Talgeri, Hindi has been “the language of the struggle for freedom” since the 1950s and the maintenance of the other national languages ​​has been a project that is closely linked to a strategy of national integration. This includes the “three-language formula”, which has since been authoritative for the national language curriculum in schools. Accordingly, after the official national language Hindi and the "official secondary language" English, which is very important for "high-value communication", the third language is a freely chosen Indian language.

But in his opinion it is a mistake to strictly oblige the state schools to this formula. The underlying fear that "the national identity could be wiped out" with the introduction of foreign languages ​​is unfounded. The turn of young Indians to German or other foreign languages ​​such as Spanish, French or even Mandarin threatens neither the national languages ​​nor the identity of India. Rather, it is an expression of the international open-mindedness and economic awakening of India, of which the country can rightly be proud.

And what about the much-vaunted ideal of multilingualism in Europe? Asked Talgeri. In Europe, according to Hans-Jürgen Krumm, he observes an ambivalent relationship to multilingualism in some respects. On the one hand, people appreciate the "elite multilingualism" in business and science (where, however, a dubious, short-sighted trend towards English monolingualism can be noted), on the other hand, they criticize the "poverty multilingualism" of migrants and Refugees' nose. But even these have to be learned to understand as cultural and intellectual enrichment. In general: "Multilingualism makes you smart!"

Talgeri expressly agreed to this and referred to an interesting trend that he had observed on Indian radio broadcasts. In these, several languages ​​are used more and more often side by side and mixed up - “a kind of language hybridization” that allows the listener to recognize new facets of contexts of meaning quite incidentally.

An all-round successful conclusion

Perfect conclusion | Photo: Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi Everything was perfect at the conference in Mumbai. The program of the two concentrated days of the event followed a clever dramaturgy and, far from Germany, once again traced the entire spectrum of questions from the past eleven months of DEUTSCH 3.0. In the workshops and the many conversations on the sidelines, not only all imaginable facets and perspectives of German lessons were highlighted, but the importance of the language (s) for culture, economy and society was also discussed. And the cultural framework program with a reading by Leonhard Thoma from his short story work “Das Idealpaar”, which was designed for German lessons, and performances by the Indian musician Krishna Marathe hit the right note. As part of the anniversary “100 years of German teaching in India” there will be another conference at the University of Mumbai. For DEUTSCH 3.0 it was already a successful conclusion.