- Zhiying Cheong

Between cultures, conflicts, and communication: A summary

by Zhiying Cheong

MA student in German linguistics/German as a foreign language
BaTEG Summer School student organiser
University of Bamberg

As Gandhi once said: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.” This year in the BaTEG Summer School, we had the opportunity to exchange ideas, thoughts and valuable input from our peers from different countries in an attempt to understand foreign language learning in a cross-cultural and global context. At the opening lecture of the BaTEG Summer School on Monday, 26 September, around 40 participants, lecturers and organizers from countries including Austria, France, Finland, Norway and Poland came together for the first time. Some of them were in Bamberg for the first time, others had been before and had already cooperated with our interdisciplinary team of professors.

The main focus of the summer school was on exchanging ideas on intercultural pedagogy and the modern challenges of learning foreign languages in academia and in schools around Europe.

We started off with workshops on intercultural learning by lecturers from Bamberg (Oliver Geike and Friederike Scholl) and Poznań, Poland (Dr. Marta Janachowska-Budych, Adam Mickiewicz University), and were introduced to a project by Verena Keimerl. A language café was set up as a general meeting for participants to have breaks between workshops and sessions. After a workshop by Dr. Alexa Craïs from the University of Toulouse, students from the English department led our participants on a city tour around Bamberg to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site itself.

On the following day, the participants enjoyed a morning walk along the river Regnitz before continuing with workshops on the topics of immigration and teaching and learning in times of crisis such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (Dr. Magdalena Kaltseis, University of Innsbruck, and Assoc. Prof.  Lyudmyla Kruhlenko, Kryvyi Rih National University). Then, they were invited to a snack cooking class by our students. A cookbook was developed with a collection of the international snacks prepared as well. In the afternoon, two lecturers from Oulu, Finland, introduced us to perspectives of immigration in the US (Dr. Nils Jaekel) and intercultural business communication (Prof. Dr. Sandra Reimann).

On the third day, participants discussed cultural taboos in the classroom and there were inspiring talks held by academics from the University of Graz (Dr. Sonja Babić, Erlis Lacej) as well as several German universities (Christian Ludwig, FU Berlin, and Theresa Summer, University of Bamberg; Prof. Dr. Engelbert Thaler, University of Augsburg; Dr. Valentin Werner, University of Bamberg; Lisa Lehnen, University of Würzburg, Prof. Dr. Laurenz Volkmann, University of Jena; Dr. Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann and Jeanine Steinbock, University of Würzburg). The participants then had a wonderful walk up to “Spezial-Keller”, one of Bamberg´s many beer gardens.

On the fourth day, we were introduced to the concept of diversity and multilingualism within the academic world in Europe, with talks from Bamberg (Prof. Dr. Hans-Ingo Radatz), Melbourne (Assoc. Prof. Rod Neilsen) and Poznań (Prof. Dr. Kamil Długosz). In the afternoon, an interesting discussion was held on the topic of learning languages as a language educator.

On the final day, our Norwegian guests Assoc. Prof. Arild Henriksen and Assist. Prof. Mariette Aanensen gave a talk on teaching English as a foreign language in Norwegian schools. The following workshop by Dr. Jakub Przybyl and Dr. Dorota Owczarek (Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań) introduced an international perspective on TEFL. The last lecture day ended after a hike on the seven hills of Bamberg and a lovely dinner overlooking the Bamberger Dom. Some participants took a daytrip to Nuremberg on the weekend before returning to their respective home countries.

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