Using a well-known product and celebrity in the German classroom to build students’ intercultural awareness

Spencer-davies

by Grazia Spina

By using products and business stories from a German-speaking country, and providing German language quotes and videos to students, I have made progress towards building their intrigue and intercultural awareness. I wanted to share with you the lesson I developed that includes Dietrich Mateschitz, Formula 1 racing, and Red Bull. How can these three people and things be included in a lesson plan to teach students about culture from a German-speaking country?

Red Bull is well-known energy drink in the U.S. When I used to direct study abroad programs in Austria, we would watch the air race planes of the Red Bull Air Race, as seen in this video. Nowadays, Red Bull is associated with the Austrian soccer team Red Bull Salzburg, the New York Red Bulls, the Red Bull Brazil, and the Red Bull Leipzig. My students are familiar with the brand, so it can peak their interest. Adrenalin, which is a benchmark of the Red Bull brand, is also linked to other sports, like Formula 1 racing (aka Formel 1).

What does Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull, and Formula 1 have to do with each other?

The Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, together with the Tailandese Chaleo Yoovidhya, founded Red Bull GmbH in 1984. In 1987, the company introduced the new energy drink in Austria with the name Red Bull. According to Forbes Magazine, the brand sold 6.8 billion cans, up 8%, across 171 countries in 2018. Mateschitz is now one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Mateschitz’s adventure continued over the years, with the same leitmotiv of resilience and adrenalin when Mateschitz bought a racing car factory called “Alpha Tauri” and won the Formula 1 world competition four times.

The racing track symbolizes power, energy, and resilience of these beautiful cars, as shown in this video in German that our students always enjoy.

In July of this year, one of the Formula 1 races will take place in Spielberg, the Austrian track named “Red Bull Ring”. This German site shows the countdown to this exciting event.

According to Mateschitz, here is his recipe for success, in any language and in any part of the globe:

“Motivation und Spaß an der Arbeit sind die Basis jedes Erfolges” – Dietrich Mateschitz

Translated to English this means: “Motivation and fun while working are the basis of each success”.

My recommendation to teachers includes sharing these links with students to build interest in the content. Definitely include the motivational quotes in your lesson plan as well!

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