German Prof Takes Language Skills to Another Level

German Prof Takes Language Skills to Another Level

Photo credit: Scott L. Huck/Cedarville University

by Sharyn Kopf—Cedarville, Ohio

May 26, 2009

The best teachers are also great students. In fact, for many, their passion to teach is surpassed only by their desire to learn. For these scholars, education is a lifelong process.

Take Cedarville University German professor Dr. Annis Shaver. Becoming a better teacher, for her, means immersing herself in the German language and culture. This summer she has the opportunity to do just that as she spends two weeks at the University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany. Shaver was chosen to participate in a course titled The Development of Intercultural Competence in the Context of German As a Foreign Language: Objectives, Methods and Evaluation.

Conducted entirely in German, the seminar will enhance Shaver’s “knowledge and skills in the teaching of intercultural competence, focusing on the development of goals, teaching models, and evaluation in the field of intercultural competence and intercultural understanding.” The program is presented as part of the American Association of Teachers of German, an organization Shaver has been a member of since 1978.

“Any opportunity to be in Germany and practice the language improves my ability as a teacher and benefits my students,” she says. “And since the course is taught in German, it will force me to focus on writing and speaking the language.”

Teaching German was not Shaver’s initial plan as an undergrad at Tennessee Tech University, but after one class she was hooked and chose to major in German and secondary education. She also met and eventually married John Shaver III, an Army man with a German background. In fact, he took her to Germany on four military tours for a total of 11 years, solidifying her passion for the language and culture.

Of course, Shaver continued her education, receiving a master’s in German from Louisiana State University and her Ph.D in TESOL from the University of Miami.

One thing Shaver looks forward to during her time in Leipzig this summer is the chance to learn more about the former East Germany. “There are two distinct German cultures,” says Shaver. “One is still nostalgic for communism after living with it for so long. The other is a Western culture that embraces an open, free market. Gaining more insight into what’s happening in the country will help me as I create lesson plans on cultural differences.”

This seminar is generously supported by the German government’s Transatlantic Program, through funds from the European Recovery Plan of the German Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology. As a result, most of Shaver’s expenses will be covered.