Build German students’ intercultural awareness by taking them to the Top of the World!

Intercultural awareness

In my previous post about my German classroom for the Language Learning Community, I described how I used products and business stories from the target-language country and provided language quotes and videos to students to make progress towards building their intrigue and intercultural awareness.

For other lessons, I have used stories from my past, like when I used to direct study abroad tours to Bavaria.

A sample lesson from my class

When you travel to Bavaria, a joy and pride of the region is “Zugspitze”, meaning “mountain peak”. The Zugspitze, at 2,962 m above sea level, is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains as well as the highest mountain in Germany.

It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the Austria–Germany border runs over its western summit. 

Getting to the top of the mountain is certainly not for the faint at heart. I have had the pleasure of bringing many groups of students for the hike over the years for their study abroad in that region, and it has always proven to be a big winner and a memory for students to cherish and remember forever. 

The top of the mountain flies both the German and Austrian flag, though it is most commonly considered a German peak. 

Here are more details about the mountain peak: 

  • Altitude: 2.962 m (9717feet)
  • First trip: 27th August, 1820
  • Position: at 100 meters (328 feet) from the Austrian border
  • Best time to climb: June through September
  • Temperature in the Winter: – 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit)
  • Temperature in the Summer: – 2 to + 2 Celsius (28 to 35 Fahrenheit)

How does teaching about the Bavarian Alps lead to intercultural awareness?

This year many students are learning online, and while they may not be able to plan a trip to Bavaria right now, they can use the lesson’s assignments to take a virtual trip.

When teaching online, instructors can use different devices to help students learn more about the jewels of the region to raise their interest-level.

Have your students plan a virtual trip to the region by gathering information on hotels, restaurants, excursions, means of transportation, and ticket prices.

  • Students can collect information online such as: interactive maps, brochures, pictures, videos, and/or blogs to help “plan” their trip and share their findings with their instructor and their peers. 
  • For an assignment, ask students, “where would you eat if you were on this trip”?
  • They could do some research online and send you an answer like: 
    • Once you are on the Top of the World, you can enjoy food in the Münchner Haus, which offers many options, even a story of the mountain exploration that enabled the construction of this station and cable car.

Here are some examples of links they could collect:

If you are planning a trip to the peak, you can take the cable car that starts from the Lake Eibsee and arrives in 10-15 minutes or a little train that departs from the location of Garmisch- Partenkirchen and that goes through a gallery inside the mountain. Tourists can take a cable car arriving to the top of the mountain.

Once you are on the Top of the World, you can enjoy food in the Münchner Haus, which offers many options, even a story of the mountain exploration that enabled the construction of this station and cable car.

Students can do research on both websites to compare the two countries under the same mountain: Zugspitz in Germany and Zugspitz in Austria.

Some videos your students could view, especially when they are learning online:

  • In this video, students explore the breathtaking ride to the top
  • In this video, students view a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the peak’s first historical trip 

More videos and articles students can watch and read as a part of this lesson plan:

My recommendation to teachers includes sharing these links with students to build interest in the content, which raises student participation and engagement. Viel Spaß (enjoy)!

By Grazia Novelli

 

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