According to Ute Gleich, Managing Director at IH Heidelberg Collegium Palatinum in Heidelberg, the school has offered German plus culture programmes for the last 50 years and she observes that the excursions and cultural elements, which are integrated into the language course, not only make students more familiar with German culture and the German way of life, but they help “broaden their horizons and link language learning with intellectual growth”.
Indeed, language and culture are inextricably linked and in a learning environment students can only benefit as they get to combine language tuition with topics that perhaps interest them. Hans-Georg Albers, Director of International Sales at Carl Duisberg Centren which has centres throughout Germany explains. “[These courses] allow our language course participants to get a deeper insight into such subjects as famous art collections in Cologne and Munich, wine growing along the river Rhine or German history in Berlin,” and he relates that this type of programme is becoming more and more popular, especially among short-term students in the summer.
The school introduced German plus culture programmes three years ago after students, no longer content with just a leisure-time programme, started requesting cultural activities that combined “good language and thematical preparation”, observes Albers. Students can opt to take a one-week course comprising, as a rule, six lessons including one or two thematical and language preparation classes and four or five lessons where students get out of the classroom and partake in several visits and excursions. The Advent Special programme in December, where participants are invited to experience German Christmas traditions first-hand, is a popular seasonal option. Available at four Carl Duisberg locations, Albers says students “visit famous Christmas markets such as the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg or the Strietzelmarkt in Dresden and even bake Christmas cookies themselves”.
At the Goethe-Institut, Sales & Marketing Consultant, Rainer Epbinder, notes that given the subject matter, German plus culture courses appeal to almost everyone. However, he notes that students that fall into the 50-plus category appreciate their specific intensive culture programme. Deutsch 50-plus is a two-week programme, comprising 15 hours of language tuition per week, a special cultural and leisure programme designed to complement the language course, a one-day excursion, single room accommodation and breakfast and lunch on course days. By comparison, the school’s Intensive Language and Culture course, which is open to all ages, consists of 18.75 hours of tuition per week, a special leisure and cultural programme and a weekend day trip. By asking students what they liked and what could be improved about their courses, Epbinder relates that the school is able to keep content fresh and exciting. “We have made surveys asking participants about cultural programmes. Their answers have helped us to introduce new programmes, i.e. getting together with Germans at a round table.”
Students aged 50 and above are also the target audience for cultural programmes at Humboldt-Institut in Ellwangen. “So far,” says the school’s Johanna Prescher, “we have been offering German & Culture only to our adult students (50-plus) and for obvious reasons there is less demand than for the junior, teenage or young adult courses.” Over the years, she says, they have added more interactive components, such as a choir teaching students German folk songs or bowling competitions between students and the local bowling club. She observes, “We have noticed that while participants appreciate a broad cultural programme where they can learn something, they also enjoy being immersed in the German way of life and feel they have somewhat mingled with the locals which gives them a sense of being part of German culture.”
This year, language school did deutsch-institut launched a new cultural programme which explores social, cultural and economically relevant topics dependent on the course location (Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg or Munich). Students must develop an academic project in the area of culture and civilization alongside university lecturers while improving existing language skills. According to Almir Krupic, did Sales Manager, the University Summer Course consists of 20 language lessons, four lessons of supervised workshops, two excursions during the week and one on the weekend. “The particular combination of language course, university seminar and excursion programme allows international participants to experience the relationship between Germany’s language and its culture and to deepen the understanding of them,” vouches the school website.