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In Profile - Christiane Guenther

In Profile

© DAAD/Guenther

I am a Senior Lecturer for German at Swansea University, Wales where I teach German language, language pedagogy, interpreting modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level whilst also coordinating the year abroad scheme for students to visit German speaking countries, intercultural workshops and DAAD scholarship applications. I am registered as a DAAD-Ortslektorin.

From 2011 – 2016, I was the DAAD-Lektorin at Swansea, after having taught at the University of Potsdam, Germany and at several language institutes in Berlin and Argentina. I received my Bachelor of Music Education and MA degree (German, Second Language Acquisition and TESOL) from the University of Mississippi where I also started to teach German as a foreign language.

My interests lie in ab-initio language teaching, language pedagogy and intercultural awareness. I am also a freelance trainer for the Goethe-Institut in London.

If you are teaching, what sparked your interest in education and teaching? 

I was brought up in a teacher´s household and many family members have chosen a teaching career. I started to offer tuition for school children when I pursued my Abitur and it was quite clear to me then that I wanted to work in education. I am very grateful to have been taught by inspirational teachers and to have received opportunities to start teaching German whilst completing my MA degree in the USA. That experience and the feedback from students and colleagues gave me the confidence to explore further teaching opportunities both inside and outside Germany.

Which city in Germany have you been studying/researching and what was/were the reason/s for choosing it?

After I completed my studies in the USA, I moved to Berlin for eight years. Berlin is such a fascinating and lively city with a breath-taking history. I was born in the GDR (I was 12 when the Berlin Wall fell) so I visited a great number of monuments and museums to research various aspects of my home country. I am still very much connected to Berlin and have organised multiple DAAD-funded study trips for my students.

Which is your favourite city/ place in Germany and which in the UK/Ireland and why? Are there any similarities or differences?

Every year, I take my children to my hometown Arnstadt, a small town in Thuringia. In addition to the wonderful and refreshing local open-air pools in the summer, we love the festive atmosphere at Christmas and often visit the Christmas market in Erfurt. We also enjoy the wonderful rye bread and typical German pastries such as Mohnstrudel and Quarktaschen at my two favourite bakeries. My favourite city, however, remains Berlin.
My home in Wales, however, is completely different as we live by the sea. Around Swansea there are numerous beautiful beaches surrounded by a stunning coastline and life is easy and not so hectic (as long as you have a rainproof jacket and wellies – it rains quite a bit).

What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had in the UK/Ireland so far? How did you react? What did it remind you of?

At the beginning of each academic year, Swansea University offers a freshers´ fayre where all societies come together to recruit new members. When I arrived at the German Society stall, I was very much surprised to see my students greet me dressed in traditional Bavarian attire: Dirndl and Lederhosen. They had brought these traditional clothes home from their year abroad. Contrary to them, I have never owned a Dirndl in my life!

Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one and where have you learned it?

Cooking and baking German dishes is something I do regularly. It is my cure for homesickness and also my happy place. I can do Thüringer Klöße mit Rotkraut und Braten and Hühnerfrikassee for example without a recipe, although I still need recipes for my baking. My grandmother gifted me a book filled with her recipes and I often surprise my friends and family with her version of Quarkkuchen, Zupfkuchen or Bienenstichkuchen. Also the savoury Zwiebelkuchen is a family favourite. I also try to share my joy for German baking with my students and have regularly organised a Great German Bake-Off and other baking events for Weihnachtsplätzchen both face to face and online.

What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study/research?

My first advice would be to make use of all the opportunities that are presented to you: If there is an offer to join a study trip – do it! If there are offers to volunteer abroad – go abroad! If you can study abroad – do it! If there are funding options – apply for it! Also, start teaching from the beginning and start learning a new language whilst you are doing it. That way you are always able to put yourself in the shoes of a language learner.

 

Ortslektoren are German lecturers who teach German language/ German literature at universities but are not funded by the DAAD or any other institution. Instead, the DAAD offers this group a platform for functional funding.  In 2000, the programme started out with 11 UK and 2 Irish registered Ortslektor*innen. Today, in 2022, the DAAD London works with 65 Ortslektor*innen in total.

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