Das Wort der Zukunft – The word of the future

by the DAAD London and the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) are joining forces for the seventh time to invite all learners and lovers of German to take part in a German language competition.

This year’s competition aims to encourage learners of the German language to combine their linguistic creativity with their hopes and thoughts for the future. They say that new words capture the zeitgeist. New circumstances and events encourage us to create new terms to describe the world. Slowly but surely, these new words then become part of our everyday language. For example, on a trip to Germany, were you ever asked “Bist du fly” 1? Or did you ever eat Zoodles2 in Germany? Similarly, in the English language, upcycling has been named Word of the Year 2019 by the Cambridge Dictionary, as it is a current topic that is constantly in focus.

We therefore ask What is the German word of the future?

In collaboration with a professional illustrator, we want to create an illustrated dictionary of German words for the years to come. Could you help us? Only the winning entries will be presented during the final event and become part of a collection of new German words that will be made available digitally to the wider public and sent to the winners in printed form.


Anyone who wishes to take part in the competition is asked to invent one new German word that might become important in the near or distant future. These words can be made up, e.g. neologisms, put together from pre-existing words, e.g. compound nouns or may be coined in any other creative way. At the date of submission, the word should not exist in the German language.

To participate, please send the following two documents (merged into one PDF below) to the DAAD London Team (address below):

1. The Registration Form
Participants are asked to fill in their contact details and select within which category they wish to submit their entry. The categories to choose from are as follows:

  • Students of German Studies or other courses at university level containing German modules
  • German language students at universities’ language centres
  • School and sixth-form College students from years 10 to 13
  • German native speakers (please note: if you are a German or bilingual German native speaker, you must enter in this category!)
  • Other: anyone who feels up for the challenge and does not fit the above categories

While the competition entries will be forwarded to our jury members, contact details will not be shared with any third parties.

2. The Submission Form
The SUBMISSION FORM includes the following three parts:

  • The new German word
  • A short definition of the word in German that explains its meaning (i.e. dictionary entry format)
  • A German dialogue between two people of choice (fictional or real), in which participants demonstrate how to use the word in a meaningful context. The dialogues can be submitted as an audio file, as a video (participants can ask another speaker to help in the dialogue presented in the audio or video) or in written form.
    • If participants choose to submit an audio or video file: the length should not exceed 2 minutes. Please only send files in mp3/mp4/.avi format by using WETRANSFER, as video or audio files tend to be very bulky.
    • If participants choose to submit the dialogue in written format: please use the Submission Form and send it as a PDF file. When being read out the length of the written dialogue should not exceed two minutes.

All submissions can be sent to events.london@daad.de between 1 October 2020 and 8 January 2021. We are looking forward to receiving the REGISTRATION FORM and SUBMISSION FORM and associated audio/video files.

Please refer to the Submission Guidelines for further information on preparing your entry.

Find here all the documents mentioned above:

Selection process

A panel of German language professionals will receive all entries and select the top three entries from each of the five categories. Please find more information about the panel members here:

The jury

Category 1: Students studying for a degree course involving German

Joanne Leal is a Professor in German at Birkbeck, University of London, where she is also Deputy Dean of the School of Arts. She teaches and researches in the areas of twentieth and twenty-first century literature and film and has a particular interest in gender and sexuality and the representation of significant social issues, including migration and social exclusion.

Ina Linge is a Lecturer in German in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Exeter. She teaches and researches in the areas of twentieth and twenty-first century literature, film and visual culture. Her research and teaching contribute to the study of life writing, the history of sexuality, medical humanities and most recently animal studies.

Category 2: German language students at universities' language centres

Paul Hoegger is co-ordinator and teacher of German at the Cambridge University Language Centre and Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics of the University of Cambridge. He is also Director of Studies for Modern Languages at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge and teaches literary seminars at the Institute of Continuing Education of the University (Madingley Hall).

Domini Stone is Manager for Educational Links at the Goethe-Institut London. Domini’s own German journey began over 30 years ago when a school exchange to the Rhineland sparked an interest in the language and culture. She went on to do a German degree at Leeds University and an enjoyable third year abroad in Berlin, as a language assistant, inspired her to become a German teacher, in West Yorkshire. In her role at the Goethe-Institut, Domini enjoys working together with schools and partner organisations, on a range of different projects and programmes, to promote the German language and culture.

Category 3: School and sixth-form College students from years 10 to 13

René Koglbauer is Dean of Lifelong Learning and Professional Practice and Professor of Professional Practice and Leadership at Newcastle University. René is the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Language Learning and has previously been its president. René is the UK representative on the International German Teacher Association and director of Network for Languages North East.

Andrea Wilczynski is Head of the School of Modern Languages at Newcastle University. She has been a longstanding member of the School’s German Section where she currently teaches Interpreting and German language to final year students. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Category 4: Native German Speakers

Stephan Ehrig is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin. He researches German literature around 1800 (especially Heinrich von Kleist) and engages with interdisciplinary approaches to East German culture (literature, theatre, film, architecture) but is also interested in how German culture generally can be re-located within transnational and ‘de-colonised’ approaches to the study of Modern Language Studies.

Maria Roca Lizarazu is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests include German Jewish literature and culture, memory and transnational studies, literatures and cultures of (post-)migration and, more recently, questions of contemporary citizenship. Maria is particularly interested in how Arts and Humanities research as well as creative methods can help us address social and cultural challenges around migration, belonging and membership.

Category 5: Other: anyone who feels up for the challenge and does not fit the above categories

Duncan Large is Professor of European Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and Academic Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation.

Silke Mentchen is one of two Language Teaching Officers in the Department of German and Dutch at the University of Cambridge, as well as a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. She has established and is directing a German network for schools in the East Anglia region.

Announcing the winning entries and prizes

The winners will be announced at a public online event, hosted by the DAAD London, in March 2021 and individually presented on the DAAD London’s social media. All winning entries will become part of a printed illustrated dictionary designed by a professional illustrator. The winners will receive a copy alongside their prizes. Thanks to the generous contributions of our partner organisations and sponsors, the following fantastic prizes await the winners, which will be sent directly to their home addresses after the final event.

1. Prize: In-Ear Wireless Earbuds, books to learn and practice German

2. Prize: 6 Months long subscription for Babbel to learn German online, books to learn and practice German

3. Prize: Games and books to learn and practice German

All winners will receive the postcard booklet and a set of our fun DAAD goodies.

The DAAD London team is currently in the process of organising engaging online activities around the competition, including the final event, during which the winners will be announced. More information on this will be published here as soon as possible.

For German teachers/ lecturers

In order to facilitate the integration of the competition into German classes, we have created teaching material and solutions with recommendations for each exercise for the following language levels: A1/A2, B1, B2 and C1/C2. The material is flexible and easy to adapt, teachers are given the option to either plan a whole lesson or to pick certain exercises to suit their usual class schedule.

The exercises reflect on lexical and syntactical facets of the German language incorporating all four language skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading) and they focus on current topics to give inspiration for the process of creating the German word of the future.

The teaching material as well as the solutions can be sent to lecturers/teachers upon request, please email us and specify which language level(s) you would want to receive. We are looking forward to many of your German students/pupils signing up for the German Language Competition.

Come and take part in our latest language competition, win amazing prizes, and stay connected with your fellow German learners and enthusiasts in the UK and Ireland!

If you have any questions regarding the Language Competition, please contact us at events.london@daad.de.

We thank the following organisations for their continuous generous support:


1 Fly sein = to be in a good mood

2 Die Zoodles: Noodles made of zucchini, zucchini+ noodles