Lingo of Another Land Jacobs' Students Teach Middle Schoolers a Bit of German Culture

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeffrey Gaunt Daily Herald Staff Writer

Eighth-graders at Westfield Community School in Algonquin were given the chance to say "guten tag" (good day) to about 30 unlikely teachers.

Fourth- and fifth-year German students at Jacobs High School taught the eighth-graders the basics of German language and culture, from numbers and letters to basic phrases, colors and information about German life.

"Actually it went really well," Jacobs' German teacher Mary "Frau" Katzenmayer said. "It's a real learning experience for everyone involved."

The high school students, who were exclusively juniors and seniors, were divided between four eighth-grade classrooms. They spent a total of an hour and a half - 45 minutes a day for two days - teaching the eighth-graders. The student teachers also put on a presentation titled "Why Take German," encouraging their part-time pupils to continue in the language.

"Unfortunately there's no language offered in the middle schools," Katzenmayer said.

High school students are able to take fifth-year German classes by doubling up on course offerings because of block scheduling at the high school level, she explained.

But the lack of foreign language at the middle school level means that for many of the eighth-graders this was their first exposure to the German language, Katzenmayer said.

During the program at Westfield, called "lingo buddies," the teaching method and topics were entirely up to the students. …