Language Resident/Assistant Name:
Nicolai Diener

Class theme/topics discussed:
German Federal Election 2021

Goal of the class:
Learn and discuss about:

  • Political system in Germany
  • Comparison between German political system with U.S.
  • Comparison between Majority voting & proportional representation
  • Key political offices/names/institutions/parties in Germany
  • Distinction between party, fraction and coalition
  • Distinction between German parties

How did you structure the class?

4.30 – 4.40:        “Positionslinie” (Students have to position themselves along a line (“Positionslinie”) which is marked by a check on one side and a cross on the other according to three statements: 1) “I mostly understand what politics is about” 2) I feel that my opinion is well represented in politics 3) “I would go to a demonstration if I didn’t like something in the country”. Depending on where the students stand the teacher tries to collect like 1-2 opinions from students (standing on the extremes/middle/.. trying to involve everyone))

4.40 – 4.45:        Review: Political System USA – groups (the students have to discuss the following points with regard to the political system in the U.S.: “1) Key offices 2) Who votes for whom? 3) How is the winner decided?” They can use the chalkboard for illustrations)

4.45 – 4.50:        Review: Political System USA – plenum (teacher asks students for what they discussed in the groups and collects their input on the chalkboard for illustration purposes + easier comparison to German system)

4.50 – 5.00:        Scheme of key offices/institutions in German political system (students get 6 different parts of one scheme and have to bring them in the correct relation to each other. If too difficult help the students + discuss open questions)

5.00 – 5.05:        Gap text of key offices/institutions in German political system (introduce more/precise vocabulary/offices/institutions and record it with the gap text)

5.05 – 5.10:        Discuss 3 important terms: party, fraction & coalition (“party” and “fraction” important basic terms to understand the political system in Germany, as well as “coalition” – the latter one also allows to transfer to the next point: the comparison between majority voting and proportional representation)

5.10 – 5.20:        Watch Video „Wahlsysteme einfach erklärt“ + Discuss open questions

5.20 – 5.30:        Introduce & Discuss the Parties in Germany (each student gets 1 party – they have to read the short introduction and combined with their own knowledge have to answer the following questions: “1) Who is you party? What positions do they represent? 2) Where would your party position on a left-right-scale (using the same line as in the first task) 3) With which other parties would your party form a coalition?”)

XXX       Campaign issues

What worked well in this class? What did not work?

I knew that this class would be intense and we won’t be able to do all the things that I had planned – nevertheless I am really happy, as we were able to talk about the most important aspects and from my point of view the students were really (!) interested and also understood a lot (!). They were really engaged and worked pretty well on all the assignments, even though they had different degrees of political knowledge. To be honest, I switched to English several times this class – but this was a once a year occasion and it was important to me that they use German as much as possible (and I use German as much as possible in explaining things), but at the same time I really wanted them to take as much knowledge out of that class as possible – even if that meant that I had to switch to English sometimes.
All the assignments worked really well and took about the right amount of time – maybe the first task could have been a little bit shorter, but it was a really nice introduction, had the students walking around in class, discussing, sharing – so I would not necessarily change it as it is a good introduction to the class.
The comparison worked really well – students own knowledge/experience as basis to imagine how the German system could work. The explanations of the “party”, “fraction” and “coalition” terms allowed to have short little excursions to other topics – e.g. differences between the two voting systems. The video was good and worked really well in combination with further explanations by myself. They got to know the parties and what they stand for – the only thing we did not talk about were the campaign issues. But I do not really mind that – as that part is the weakest in my opinion and I will focus my study break on campaign issues. So it is not too bad that we did not do it and instead used the SHORT time for all the other important stuff. The students also asked a lot of questions after the class, left about 5.45 and I could tell them some insights to the German political landscape – all in all I would say that this was certainly a PACKED, but VERY good class.

What technology, media or props did you use? (internet resources, playmobiles, handouts, etc.)

Video : (09/23/2021)