German as a foreign language (DaF)
Our fundamental curriculum is grounded in the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), which features a unique structure tailored to language instruction. The CEFR-based curriculum focuses on essential elements, forgoing a rigid progression plan and a predetermined list of content. Instead, it presents a target language profile consisting of tiered sub-competencies.
This end profile establishes a standard that learners should strive to attain. The crux of our curriculum lies in articulating competence expectations, derived from the CEFR, that students are expected to achieve by the conclusion of a particular learning segment.
How Do We Structure Our Lessons? An Action-Centered Approach
As defined by educator Hilbert Meyer, action-centered teaching is “a comprehensive and student-engaging instructional approach, wherein the learning outcomes agreed upon by both the teacher and students shape the teaching process. This enables a harmonious balance between students’ cognitive and hands-on activities.”
Action-centered learning stands in contrast to fact-based memorization, where students merely absorb the subject matter. Instead, this experiential approach emphasizes the active engagement of learners, involving them in lesson planning and design from the outset and encouraging them to actively and purposefully interact with the learning content.
The crux of this teaching method lies in generating tangible outcomes through intellectual and material actions, which symbolize the learning objective. Such an outcome can range from a mural, a series of physical measurements, a letter to the editor, or a website, to a practical, self-constructed device, such as a rainwater utilization system.
The goal of this teaching approach is to strike a balance between cognitive and hands-on activities, fostering sustainable, experiential learning that engages all the senses. In action-centered instruction, students must first comprehend the task thoroughly and then independently devise strategies to resolve it.
The action-centered instructional approach follows a specific sequence of teaching phases: Initially, the problem is explained, followed by defining the action outcomes and forming workgroups. During the processing phase, actions are planned, evaluated, and coordinated, while multiple individual solution strategies are explored. In the concluding presentation phase, each workgroup showcases its results and engages in a discussion with the teacher and other students.
In summary, the action-centered instructional approach enhances students’ self-initiative and personal accountability. It necessitates teamwork, cultivates communicative competence, and fosters interdisciplinary and interconnected learning. This method can be effectively applied in various learning activities such as chain exercises, project-based work, reverse dictation, station learning, and collaborative outdoor games, among others.