A few words about what our language training is primarily about and which basic views determine our educational approach and our methodological choices: Language in the DIVAN is understood as a social and cultural practice that is relevant to identity. The focus of our work in language and cultural mediation (“language training”) can therefore be, for all our goals, not only on learning language services that are requested in isolation—which may be externally prescribed.
From our point of view, a common misconception lies in the overrated importance of the (temporary) training of standardized skills that correspond to certain “levels”: these may be necessary and useful for the existence of relevant test formats, but they don’t necessarily help to manage—in a stress-free and confident manner—professional/private everyday life in a possibly (very) foreign-seeming socio-cultural environment, to ensure and express one’s own interests, or to actively participate in social and cultural life.
Nevertheless it is always the student who determines the collaboration by defining their own respective course objectives, which can be equally effective towards acquiring the language skills needed for the next “level”, such as a confident grasp of the language, or the ability to write an accurate and understandable seminar work independently or in a professional context.
The (longer-term) advantages of a freely evolving, gradually “growing” competence in expression and comprehension on the part of the students are of course obvious:
- A continuous process of building up and strengthening linguistic- cultural self-assurance in and by means of the newly acquired language (which is then of course no longer experienced as a “foreign language”);
- the acquisition – supported through continuous training – of a curious, open attitude to learning, beyond certain externally determined goals;
- flexibility in communicating thanks to well-established grammar and vocabulary;
- the discovery of the unique potential to deal with the new language creatively and independently on one’s own and to further develop and deepen – over the course period – one’s knowledge and skills.
- It goes without saying that the motivation and vigiliant attention of the individual towards his or hers own learning and progress is a given at the DIVAN.