Tag Archives: Education

My German Wife Is Grateful for the Opportunity to Teach Older Students

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“Thank goodness I got that second master’s degree! Now, don’t poke your eyes out, Dieter.” — Photo by Gerry Thomasen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrythomasen/)

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Germany, which means she has the training and education to teach high school students — not the little smelly ones who stick raisins up their noses. And Gymnasium teachers don’t just teach 5th through 12th graders; they teach the ones who show real academic promise. Get this: if you aren’t smart enough to go to a Gymnasium, you aren’t allowed to attend a university after graduation. You have to go to a trade school and learn how to repair cars for all the uppity nerds who got better grades than you. Can you imagine? I like to think of a young German man — let’s call him Horst — slaving away beneath some fancy BMW. He’s fixing it the best he can, turning the cranks and tightening the screws, when a shot of oil hits him in the eye like the money shot in a porno. That’s the moment when Fancypants Schillinger, the former high school valedictorian, strolls into the auto shop:

FANCYPANTS: “Well hello there, Horst! I haven’t seen you since you flunked out of our Gymnasium! What have you been up to?”

HORST: “Fixing your car, obviously.”

FANCYPANTS: “Hah hah, good ol’ Horst. Remember how popular you were in school? How you went to all the parties and chased all the girls? I used to be so envious…”

HORST: *Jabbing his hand into the toolbox* “Yup..”

FANCYPANTS: “But then you flunked one too many classes and wound up in a Hauptschule with all the other knuckle draggers. I bet that was a real trip to the zoo, wasn’t it? Hah hah!

… and that’s how Horst wound up serving life in prison for beating a nerd to death with a monkeywrench.

Anyway, my point is the German educational system — while highly effective — can be a tad elitist. You can imagine why a smart, well-educated Gymnasium teacher might not relish the idea of teaching little kids, especially little American kids. But that’s exactly what my wife did back in 2012, when she spent a year in the United States at a primary school. She did this on a J1 work visa in order to give us the chance to live together as a couple. It was a sacrifice on her part, and I respect the hell out of her for making it. I had to laugh, however, when she was about to leave the States and begin her job as a full-blown Gymnasium teacher in Germany, explaining to me (with no small amount of relief ) how old her future students would be:

THE WIFE: “They are older. I will have 5th through 12th graders. They are not thigh-biters.”*

*3 seconds later: “… I mean ankle-biters.”

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10 Easy Steps to Become the Worst God Damned German Language Teacher on the Planet

diverse classroom gradeschool 6th graders

“Put your hands down, idiots. I don’t even care.” — Photo by http://www.audio-luci-store.it (http://www.flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore/)

I am an American expat living in Germany. I have taken a few German classes — including an intensive A1 German integration course — so I have experienced several different types of language teachers. I’ve had phenomenal ones and average ones. Wonderfully gifted teachers and disenchanted wash-ups. Inspiring educators and mind-numbing hacks who have no business standing in front of a classroom. Today, I would like to speak directly to all of the German teachers out there who fall into this last category.

Dear Shitbird,

Would you like to make sure your students are confused and drooling by the end of every class? Do you want to ensure the next wave of expatriates join the workforce as mumbling illiterates? Have you ever wanted to smash somebody’s attempts to learn your mother tongue just to watch their linguistic hopes wither and die like an orchid watered exclusively with table salt and battery acid?

Well, you’re in luck! With an amalgamation of all my shitty German teachers in mind, I’ve constructed the list below to help guide ambitious young educators on the path to becoming the absolute worst teachers on the face of this spinning blue ball we call Earth.

  1. Take absolutely NO joy in your work. Oh ho ho! Don’t get too excited if front of your class. If your students suspect you might actually be enjoying the learning process, you’re sure to lose their respect. Remember: These people are animals. Open displays of energy or enthusiasm will be rewarded with teeth gnashing and poo flinging.
  2. Speak super fast all the time. You gotta keep those students on their toes! And you definitely want to make sure to speak at light speed when a student asks a question. After all, if your answer doesn’t inflict greater confusion than the uppity little shit had before, you just aren’t doing your job.
  3. Never use complete sentences. When introducing a new concept or set of linguistic rules, just point wildly and write single words on the blackboard. Shaking your head or nodding in silence are also effective teaching methods of communication. Who has time to explain things thoroughly? And besides, your students can’t possibly understand you anyway; these dim bulbs come from other countries. Filthy countries.
  4. Encourage shouting matches. How else are you going to find out who the best student is? The loudest, most obnoxious son of a bitch in class is obviously the most gifted, and deserves to be rewarded with all of your attention. Quiet students are weak; they should be left behind as food for the larger animals.
  5. Never take turns speaking. Asking students to actually try and speak the language in an orderly fashion will destroy any chance you have of creative a shouting match (see step #4). If you give each student equal attention, you might accidentally figure out who needs extra help with the language, and nobody likes a downer.
  6. Avoid games at all costs. If you’ve been thinking about incorporating games or activities into your lessons, stop right there: Nothing engages students like asking them to get off their dead asses and do something fun. Your students should have that blank, thousand-yard stare at all times. If you notice the light coming back on in their eyes, you may be giving them false hope, and that’s just irresponsible.
  7. Repetition serves no purpose. If your students don’t get a lesson the first time around, fuck ‘em. Obviously they weren’t paying attention. Saying the same things over and over again is boring — especially for you, the teacher — and anybody who asks you to repeat yourself probably rides the short bus to class anyway.
  8. Make sure your students have side conversations. If some of your students are talking loudly to each other while you or one of your students is speaking, you’ve struck gold! Clearly your class is advanced enough not to require an orderly environment. Besides, you’re a teacher, not a police officer. These knuckle-dragging mongoloids can govern themselves.
  9. Never use tables or charts. Organized information may feel like an effective means of education, but trust me, writing all over the blackboard without regard to context or continuity is how minds are truly molded. If a student needs the clarity of neatly arranged rows and diagrams, they probably never wore a helmet to football practice.
  10. The book should be a better teacher than you are. A lot of time and money went into the text book you use for your classes. Don’t waste it by trying to improve the formula, embrace it! If you need a cup of coffee or a smoke break, just tell your students to turn to page 168 and walk your ass right out of the classroom. Students love that, and it sure as hell beats actually speaking to the slack-jawed mouth breathers, am I right?

By utilizing these 10 simple steps, I promise you will stunt your student’s educational growth and salt the very earth from whence it sprang. You will preserve the German language — or any subject matter you choose to teach — and keep it well out of reach of the unwashed hordes. And this isn’t just your job we’re talking about, it’s a way of life; you should go home after class every day, stare deep into the bathroom mirror and smile with perfect certainty, because you are definitely looking at an asshole.

If you’d like to read about my experience with truly wonderful German teachers, click here.

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Denglish 83: My German Wife Unhappily Transports Bean Bag Chairs at an Elementary School

While we were living in the United States, my wife worked as an assistant teacher at a primary school. She had to help out with lessons, sing and dance with the children, and do all sorts of other activities that would make me want to uppercut the nearest kid I could find.

During one particularly hectic week at school, my wife was asked to help tidy up the playroom for an upcoming visit from the school board. This included putting toys away and rearranging furniture items, like tables, stools, desks and — apparently — bean bag chairs. I didn’t quite understand the way she articulated this last item, so I asked her to repeat it:

THE WIFE: “I said, ‘We even had to move the sit-sacks,’ “

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 67: A German Teacher on Child Discipline

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher, which, in American terms, means she works with students from 5th grade all the way up through high school. She’s basically a really high-end prep school teacher, and her students are some of the best and brightest Germany has to offer. Additionally, these students want to be in school; acceptance into a Gymnasium is based upon academic merit, and students must graduate from a Gymnasium before they are allowed to attend a university. Combined, these factors contribute to a focused educational environment without much need for corporal punishment.

My wife, however, spent the last year in the United States as an assistant teacher at a primary school, where she worked with children from kindergarten through 5th grade. You can imagine the stark contrast in maturity she experienced working with a bunch of snot-nosed ankle biters in America. Although she is not a fan of physical punishment, my wife voiced her frustration with one of the more unruly children thusly:

THE WIFE: “I am not saying to spank the child, but sometimes diamonds are made under pressure.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 42: The German Sizes Up Daniel Radcliffe

As my wife and I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II, I made a comment about Daniel Radcliffe’s remarkably slight, 5’6″ build:

ME: “My God that Harry Potter is small.”

THE WIFE: “In German we say, ‘Er ist eine halbe Portion,’ which means, “He is a half portion.’ “

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 41: My German Wife Requires Garlic to Make It Tasty

Sometime last year, The Wife and I were discussing our shopping list over the phone. We were planning to make a casserole and our list was nearly complete, but I asked if there were any additional items we might need. She responded thusly:

THE WIFE: “Oh, we do need garlic. We make it nasty with stink!”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Denglish 35: My German Wife Cannot Smell the Scent of Happy Hour in New York City

During our 2010 trip to New York, The Wife and I made a point of visiting every Irish Pub we came across in Manhattan. On one occasion, we entered a pub on the Lower East Side to find the bar was completely full, but there was seating in the restaurant area. A friendly manager sat us in the restaurant, explaining we could still drink and eat at happy hour prices. Our waitress, however, was a grumpy New York waif, whom we deemed “Surly Sarah.” At the end of our meal, she brought us the bill with full menu prices, even though we’d ordered well within the happy hour timeframe. Surly Sarah was more than a little inconvenienced by the fact that we had not read her mind and reminded her of this beforehand.

THE WIFE: “You decide in your head to charge us full price? Can I smell this? No.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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