Members of the Action Research Communities for language teachers ran a workshop for teachers of German in Hermannstadt/Sibiu from 20th to 22nd of October, 2016. The aim was to introduce teachers to an action research way of thinking, to understand the benefits of action research for the enhancement of their classroom practice.
The content theme of the seminar was “Teaching about the culture of a target-country language in the language classroom: Austria”. The workshop opened with activities to exchange and compare knowledge, beliefs and opinions about Austria. The next stage was an analytic discourse based on posters made by the teachers to visualise a typical lesson on a cultural aspect in their German class.
The first day was concluded by general information about the “Action Research Communities for language teachers” and also by showing what the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) can offer to teachers of languages. It was important to ask for the participant feedback on what they had found interesting on the first day and what their hopes were for the continuation. Clearly, the teachers were keen to get concrete input that they could use at school. We were very pleased that they had found the exchange and getting to know each other professionally at some depth through the analytic discourse useful.
The second day opened with input on action research followed by an opportunity for the teachers to look at materials on Austria and approaches that they might use. They worked in groups moving from station to station. At the end of the second day, the teachers started to think about themes that they might work on and appropriate groups.
The third day opened with input on Learning Study as a co-operative form of action research and on an activity to generate shared visions for lessons on aspects of culture. The participating teachers planned in groups to hold lessons in their own classrooms and to write a joint report following individual experiences. The plans were shared through short presentations showing intentions and expectations.
We ended the workshop with a “crumple-paper” evaluation: “Lots of fun - using the methods presented will be worthwhile – we will carry on working together”.