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  • PunktUm

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
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Teacher portraits

To mark our 25th anniversary, we would like to introduce some of our teaching staff. Here you will find interviews with our teachers that give an insight into their work. Further portraits will be added gradually so that you can keep getting to know new colleagues.

Interviews

Foto von Andrea Didier

What area are you working in?

I work in the German courses for international students, doctoral candidates and academic staff in English-language degree programmes and work contexts. My role as a teacher is to support international university members in their linguistic and social integration into everyday university life. In my role as team leader, I plan and coordinate the intensive and semester courses and provide specialist support to the lecturers teaching the courses. Another task is to develop teaching concepts, identify existing needs and take individual or group-specific measures to remove potential barriers.

What topics are you currently working on?

International students and employees who are new to Germany face enormous linguistic challenges in everyday university life. How can I enable beginners in particular to master the necessary language skills in everyday life as quickly and easily as possible in the limited teaching time (2 x 90 minutes per week during the lecture period)?

What is your area of expertise?

My speciality is phonetic aspects of learning German, as I believe that comprehensible pronunciation is the most important prerequisite for successful learning. I also like to develop interactive teaching materials that "bring grammar into play" and PowerPoint tutorials that make phonetic and grammatical structures visible and easy to understand.

Contact

Fotot von Matthias Drebber

What area are you working in?

I work in study preparation for refugees. I prepare students for the digital TestDaF.

What topics are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the topic of "Artificial intelligence in the classroom as a threat and an opportunity". I'm also focussing on test procedures and quality criteria for language tests.

What is your area of expertise?

I specialise in language development and language criticism.

Contact

What area are you working in?

I work in the Lehrkräfte Plus Bielefeld project. The qualification programme gives teachers with a refugee background and teachers from non-EU countries an insight into the German school system and prepares them for working at schools in NRW. My tasks consist of language training at C1 level with preparation for the TestDaF exam and the teaching of job-related German skills for schools and lessons.

What topics are you currently working on?

My main topic is the question: How can international teachers be best prepared for their work in schools? In other words, how can confident linguistic behaviour in the communicative situations specific to schools be promoted through courses on work-related German? What language skills are actually necessary for this and what is the connection between language skills and professional identity as a teacher?

What is your area of expertise?

I specialise in the topics of multilingualism and language awareness in language didactics. How can plurilingual speakers contribute and develop their skills in language courses? This question is always a fundamental principle of my course concepts.

Contact

What area are you working in?

I work at PunktUm in study preparation for refugees and accompany students on their way to the TestDaF exam. The exam has to prove that they are able to study in German as a foreign language. My job is therefore to prepare the participants for the linguistic challenges of studying at a German university. It is also important to consider which factors influence this language learning for university and what else constitutes "study ability".  

What topics are you currently working on?

Like many others, I am currently asking myself how artificial intelligence is changing teaching. Will it make our teaching and learning superfluous, make it more difficult or simplify it? In any case, it will change familiar learning habits and expectations. How can sustainable learning be made possible under these conditions? How can AI applications help to promote active engagement with language?   

What is your area of expertise?

I am particularly interested in the interface between language teaching and the everyday, university or professional world. It is important to me that what I have learnt can also be applied where it is needed. What bridges can be built from the classroom into these application situations so that learning is actually action-orientated and meaningful?

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Marta Kaplinska-Zajontz

What area are you working in?

I work in the field of language support for students, specialising in the academic language German (C1-C2). The aim here is to support international students in their linguistic and academic integration after successfully passing the university entrance exam and starting their studies and to increase their chances of academic success. My tasks primarily include coordinating the modules on academic language and academic writing in German as a foreign language, teaching interdisciplinary courses, workshops, writing workshops and providing specialist support to the team of teaching assistants. A further focus is individual writing counselling for the target group and the management of the counselling team. The final spurt project should also be emphasised with the aim of supporting students in the challenging final phase on their way to successfully completing their studies.

What topics are you currently working on?

At the moment, I'm increasingly focusing on the topic of training and supporting student writing consultants with the aim of professionalising their work. As part of an interest group of the Society for Writing Consultancy and Writing Research, I am in contact with colleagues from university writing centres across Germany. The focus of interest here includes topics such as methods of counselling, elements of training, writing and multilingualism, writing processes and text design, forms of supervision, techniques and procedures for text feedback and, currently, the potentials and risks of AI.

What is your area of expertise?

Firstly, the academic language itself. Academia is a very specific domain in which communication follows certain rules and is realised through different types of text. These rules often remain hidden from students at the beginning of their academic journey. With regard to the linguistic structures of science, the writing researcher Otto Kruse once aptly said: "Science also has its folklore, its dogmas and obsessions." And I find this fascinating, as well as the challenge of opening up this world to students so that they can understand the peculiarities of academic language and academic cognitive processes, systematically master academic forms of communication and, last but not least, find their own voice and develop their own identity. After all, participation in academic discourse is the ultimate goal of academic writing.

Secondly, I am interested in writing counselling and its role in the development of academic writing skills. In my view, the greatest resource of writing counselling lies in interaction. I observe on a daily basis how these communicative processes initiate reflection, learning and change processes and activate self-efficacy. And that's what writing counselling is all about: not correcting supposed deficits, but strengthening students in their writing development.

Contact

Marianne Kisker

What area are you working in?

I work in the intensive German language and study preparation courses for the semester for English-language degree programmes. As the participants don't necessarily need German for their studies, the courses are more about helping them to understand and speak the German they need for their everyday lives.

What topics are you currently working on?

The participants usually have a very heavy workload to cope with in addition to the course. I am therefore constantly trying to find out how I can meet all participants where they are and support them so that they can successfully complete the course and continue to learn German with motivation.

What is your area of expertise?

My speciality is grammar. Teaching structures in the most interesting, playful and motivating way possible is particularly important to me. I also enjoy constantly developing my teaching methods with the aim of activating the participants and getting them to speak, as well as creating a good atmosphere in the course.

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Gina Schmidtpeter-Schneemann

What area are you working in?

I have been working as a lecturer at Punktum since 2016 and I am involved in the German courses for international students, doctoral students and academic staff, as well as in the summer courses for cooperation students and in the study preparation courses for refugees.

What topics are you currently working on?

As I am currently doing my doctorate in English linguistics, I always try to establish a link to linguistics and often use the participants' native languages for this.

This really helps them to understand the German language better.

What is your area of expertise?

My academic career is my second job. My main job is as an entrepreneur in the business world.

Contact

Assani Boukari

What area are you working in?

I am also active in German courses for international students, doctoral candidates and academic staff in English-language degree programmes and work contexts. I teach both semester and summer courses as well as intensive courses. My current role as a teacher is primarily to teach general (basic) German language skills in a university context, which the above-mentioned target group needs at the beginning and during the course of the semester in order to quickly find their way around the university and in everyday life, both linguistically and socially.

What topics are you currently working on?

In the basic levels, where I generally teach, it's usually not just international students and employees who have just arrived in Germany without any basic knowledge of the German language or social norms, but also those who have been studying, researching or working in Germany for a while and are already familiar with certain university and everyday procedures. As a teacher, it's important for me to take all students in such a heterogeneous group on board as far as possible and guide them to the desired language goal without one or the other losing motivation to learn and therefore dropping out of the course.


What is your area of expertise?

My specialism is the language system, especially vocabulary and grammar. For me, the combination of both aspects is particularly important in initial language acquisition, especially as they create the basis for a successful learning process and complement each other well. The fact is, in order to be able to express certain matters in the foreign language, appropriate linguistic means are required, which is where vocabulary comes into play. In order to be able to express yourself correctly, it is necessary to master the grammatical structures of the foreign language. This is why I personally attach great importance to a varied training of vocabulary as well as implied or exploratory grammar, especially in the beginners' courses where the basic knowledge is taught.

Contact

Penelope Kolovou

What area are you working in?

I am currently working on the "Lehrkräfte Plus Bielefeld" project. This qualification programme is aimed at teachers with a refugee background and teachers from non-EU countries. The programme gives them an insight into the German school system and prepares them for their work at schools in NRW. My tasks include language training at C1/2 level and teaching phonetic aspects of the German (teaching) language.

What topics are you currently working on?

In view of the special biographies of my students, I am particularly interested in how I can strengthen their well-being in the context of language teaching. Based on my Content Language Integrated Learning concept "DaF zum Wohl!", which I developed in my final project in Applied Health Sciences, I therefore try to promote the students' team spirit and self-confidence through targeted exercises. I am also very interested in utilising the connection between language skills and emotional intelligence in teachers.

What is your area of expertise?

Due to my own experience in learning German as a foreign language and my original studies in classical philology, my focus is definitely on teaching grammar. Correct pronunciation is an essential part of a language, which is why I have specialised in phonetics as a lecturer for German as a foreign language. As a student with Greek as a first language, I had to deal with the challenges of German phonetics myself and would now like to pass on my tips and tricks to my students. Last but not least, my teaching practice is characterised by components from my training in systemic language coaching and writing therapy.

Contact

Thi Thu Trang Tran

What area are you working in?

I am currently in the final stages of my doctorate in German as a foreign and second language at the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies at Bielefeld University. I also work as a German teacher in an international class at a secondary school in Bielefeld.

What topics are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the topic: "Investigating the motivation of Vietnamese learners of German - an empirical study in some language institutions in Vietnam". In my project, I aim to find out the motivational orientations of Vietnamese learners of German and the factors influencing their motivation to learn German. I am also focussing on analysing textbooks for foreign language teaching and the role of media use in German lessons.

What is your area of expertise?

My specialism is the teaching of German (German as a foreign and second language) in German lessons. I am also working with a colleague at a secondary school to develop a language support concept for German as a second language, which is geared towards newly immigrated pupils who have just arrived in Germany and still have little knowledge of German and therefore need support, particularly in the area of technical language. The focus of the DaZ lessons is on the one hand on the acquisition of words and sentences that are relevant to life and school and on the other hand on working through and consolidating the current lesson content so that the pupils can better follow the lessons in the mainstream class.

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Inez Rieser

In which area do you work?

I work in the field of academic language and academic writing. My job is to support international students with questions about their writing processes as part of workshops and block seminars that accompany their studies. In these events, we look at helpful strategies that can make it easier to take notes in lectures, plan and give presentations or read and summarise academic texts, for example. I accompany the participants in many exercises and provide them with methods and formulation aids.

What topics are you currently working on?

My work at PunktUm is only part of my job as a teacher of German as a foreign and second language. I also accompany adults in the literacy process and support children and young people who are learning German as a foreign language abroad. I am always concerned with the question of how I can best adapt to the different needs and goals as well as the differences in prior knowledge and learning experience.

What is your area of expertise?

My hobbyhorse is my personal wealth of experience in relation to the issues that the participants in the PunktUm workshops face. As a former international student, I know the challenges we deal with in the workshops from a personal perspective. The exercises, strategies and materials we cover have been a great relief and support to me. Above all, the attitude of the lecturers towards my questions and uncertainties gave me the support that I was missing so much before. My aim is to pass on this attitude and understanding.

Contact

What area do you work in?

I work at PunktUm as a teacher for the study-related intensive courses for international students, doctoral candidates and academic staff. This primarily involves providing language and social support and preparing participants for everyday university and professional life.

What topics are you currently working on?

I am currently working on scenario didactics in vocational language courses. What potential does the scenario method offer learners to better prepare themselves for everyday working life and combine linguistic knowledge with practical skills? And what challenges do you still face in developing this method?

What is your favourite subject area?

I am particularly interested in multilingualism in foreign language courses, but also in scenario didactics and other action-orientated methods in language learning.

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