The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign language / Fachdidaktik Englisch) team at the University of Bamberg focuses on several areas of research: adolescents’ experiences in ELT at an international level, poetry and song lyrics, pop culture, taboos and critical foreign language pedagogy, mental health, and the use of e-portfolios in teacher education. Descriptions of current projects can be found below.


ELT survey

In this international research project, we investigate teaching and learning practices in English lessons across several countries. The goal is to explore how adolescents have experienced their English lessons, how they evaluate these, and what their visions are for the future. A questionnaire covering various topic areas aims to examine learners’ experiences with and attitudes towards English lessons. To date, we can observe a need for empirical overviews of English language teaching practices in Germany. Moreover, in cooperation with other countries across Europe, we will equally examine English language teaching abroad. The objective of the project is to obtain a comprehensive overview of English language teaching and learning practices on an international level, which allows for relevant insights and comparisons. In addition, learners’ attitudes will serve as a well-founded basis for future implications and a further improvement of English language education at school and teacher education at university.

This project is funded by the Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst (Förderlinie Internationalisierung 2.0)


Poems and song lyrics

This project focuses on the use of poetry and song lyrics in the English language classroom. For this purpose, we have developed a questionnaire targeting university students of English. The survey investigates participants’ experiences at school on the one hand, both when they were students and during internships. On the other hand, with many of them being future teachers of English, the survey examines the perceived potential of using lyrical texts for teaching English. Finally, the survey determines the role that poems and songs play in students’ spare time. Overall, we are particularly interested in the relations between school experiences, attitudes, and spare time activities.

In slightly modified versions, we have so far conducted the survey with two different groups of participants: First, it was introduced in the context of an interdisciplinary seminar at the University of Bamberg, which took place in the winter semester of 2021/22. Second, the survey was expanded to a larger project and included students of English throughout Germany.

Project partners: PD Dr. Valentin Werner & Dr. Lukas Sönning


Summer, T., Grund, R., & Zirkel, M. “Songs in ELT: A survey on university students’ beliefs and their experiences in English lessons”. Anglistentag 2022, University of Mainz. 02.-05.09.2022.


Summer, T., Werner, V., Krug, M., & Zirkel, M. (in preparation). Teaching pre-service English teachers about poems and songs in an interdisciplinary seminar: Opportunities and hurdles. In P. Fischer & T. Summer (Eds.), From Poetry to Song Lyrics: Analysing and Teaching Verse. Winter.


Pop culture in English education

Learners today encounter various symbolic resources through digital media and pop culture. Yet, despite its omnipresence in learners’ daily lives, there is a research gap in the theoretical and conceptual development of pop culture in the context of ELT. In this research project, pop culture serves as a basis for discussing the importance of developing pop culture literacy in English education. This includes the theoretical and conceptual development of a pop culture discourse to shed light on the pedagogic potential of pop culture artefacts for English lessons.


Summer, T. (in preparation). Pop Culture in English Language Education: From Theory to Practice. Erich Schmidt Verlag.


Taboo topics

Due to the omnipresence of taboos and challenging topics in learners’ lives, particularly through social media, this project aims to investigate the potential of such topics for foreign language education. Taboos, often described through the acronym PARSNIP (politics, alcohol, religion, narcotics, sex, isms, and pork), become apparent in language, communication, (pop) culture, and various areas of everyday life. As such, this research project aims to explore the perception of both learners and university students towards taboos in an EFL context. The aim is to develop a pedagogic concept for dealing with taboos in foreign language and teacher education.

Project partner: Dr. Christian Ludwig


Becker, D., Ludwig, C., & Summer, T. (Eds.) (2022). Taboo(ed) Issues in ELT through the Lens of Critical Pedagogy. Teacher Development Academic Journal (TDAJ) [special issue] 2(2).

Ludwig, C., & Summer, T. (2022). Integrating Taboo Topics into ELT: Investigating Future English Teachers’ Points of View. Teacher Development Academic Journal (TDAJ) 2(2), pp. 42-48.

Ludwig, C., & Summer, T. (forthcoming in 2023). Taboos and Controversial Issues in Foreign Language Education. Routledge.


Ludwig, C., & Summer, T. “Taboos Symposium Part III: Cultural taboos”. BaTEG summer school 2022, University of Bamberg. 25.09.-02.10.2022. 


Mental health songs

Mental health is a human right and important for all of us, especially during times of crisis. In this project, we aim to investigate how song lyrics address mental health issues and how they can serve to foster learners’ mental health literacy. For this, we created a corpus of English-language mental health songs (MHS). As there are no fixed criteria for MHS, corpus creation was informed by previous studies investigating how mental health discourse is shaped in songs. The corpus analysed covers the time span from 1949 to 2021 and comprises 150 songs (approx. 48,000 tokens). The analysis reveals that the MHS lyrics possess the potential to familiarise learners with the relevant discourse on mental health and mental disorders, thus suggesting that MHS may provide an important and motivating starting point for learners to engage with the topic and its surrounding discourse.

Interdisciplinary project in cooperation with PD Dr. Valentin Werner 


Werner, V., & Summer, T. “Mental health songs: Korpusanalyse und Implikationen für den Englischunterricht”. Interdisziplinäres Symposium zum Thema “Widerstand und Kontroversität im Kontext gesellschaftlichen Wandels und gesellschaftlicher Transformation“. TaLC Limerick, 15.07.2022; Universität zu Köln. 28.-29.10.2022.


Werner, V., & Summer, T. (in preparation). Mental Health Songs: Corpus-based Analysis and Implications for EFL Education. English Text Construction (special issue: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Language of Pop Culture).


SchulPrax – E-Portfolio

The aim of the project SchulPrax (schulpraktische Studien) is to systematically coordinate the implementation of different school internships of pre-service teachers. In addition, in cooperation with DigiLeb, we aim to develop an e-portfolio for university students to enable a progressive and visible development of professional competences. The project SchulPrax is part of the project WegE (Wegweisende Lehrerbildung) funded by the BMBF.

Project partners: Prof. Dr. Barbara Drechsel, Daniel Grötzbach, Evi Plötz


Global education and eco-pedagogy

Bringing about a world of greater justice is one of the key goals of education. In this context, foreign language education also plays an important role in developing learners’ global competence and fostering critical environmental literacies. The aim of this project is to investigate the potential of different artefacts, including songs and picturebooks, for the development of critical environmental literacies among younger and older learners of English.


Summer, T. (2022). Digital Picturebooks in Times of Crisis: From Picturebooks about Covid-19 to Developing Critical Environmental Literacies. In Amos Paran & Sandra Stadler-Heer (Eds.), Taking Literature and Langauge Learning Online: New Perspectives on Teaching, Research and Technology (pp. 71-91). Bloomsbury.

Summer, T. (Ed.) (2021). Englisch 5-10 [Eco tasks: Umwelt und Nachhaltigkeit], Heft 55. Friedrich Verlag, Hannover. Eco-Tasks (

Ludwig, C., & Summer, T. (2021). Critical environmental literacy entwickeln: Wie sich eco-artefacts und eco-tasks im Unterricht einsetzen lassen. Englisch 5-10 55, pp. 26-31. Summer, T. (2021). Eco-songs in foreign language education. In V. Werner & F. Tegge (Eds.), Pop Culture in Language Education: Theory, Research, Practice (pp. 136-150). Routledge.


PhD projects

Current PhD projects at the University of Bamberg


John Tombola Barabara:

Implementing Tasks in English Lessons: A Case of Congolese Secondary Schools


Michelle Zirkel:

in preparation


Are you interested in TEFL research?

Pursuing a doctoral degree provides you with an excellent opportunity to thoroughly engage with TEFL research and further your professional competencies. If you are interested in completing a PhD project in Englische Fachdidaktik / TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) at the University of Bamberg, please consider the university regulations / Promotionsordnung(439.9 KB); you may also contact Theresa Summer and take part in the TEFL research seminar. This seminar provides novice researchers with an opportunity to discuss current projects, exchange ideas, and learn about new research methods. In addition, the University of Bamberg is currently in the process of developing the “Graduate School of Teacher Education” (BaGraTEd). This doctoral programme is designed for PhD candidates focusing on research related to teacher education, teaching/didactics, and school teaching.