"Bridging the Gap - English Beyond and Within the Classroom"

Teaching Ideas

In a globalizing and rapidly changing world, it is essential that students learn not only how to communicate effectively in English but also how to improve their skills once they leave school. That language learning is a lifelong task has been acknowledged by important teaching guidelines over the last decades (e.g. CEFR, educational standards). Now how can we promote lifelong language learning? One way is to make it more meaningful for learners personally and motivate them to integrate English into their daily lives - also outside the classroom.

The seminars "Bridging the Gap - English Beyond and Within the Classroom" (summer term 2015 and summer term 2016) searched for ways of combining the "real world" and the classroom. Inspired by Task-Based Language Learning, the participants developed ready-to-use teaching ideas how to bridge the gap between the classroom and the outside world. In the following, please find the abstracts and links to the individual teaching suggestions:

Summer Term 2016

“Murder, She Said“

A Murder Mystery Library Project

by Lisa Kostov, Deborah Rodney

Abstract: We created a murder mystery library project for 8th-graders of German Gymnasium in order to bridge the gap between English beyond and within the classroom according to Müller-Hartmann’s and Schocker-von Ditfurth’s adapted TSLL framework (2011, p. 94 - 101). Therefore the project is composed of an activating pre-task, a multi-part task cycle and a reflecting and evaluating post-task.
In this project, the students explore the city library of Augsburg, but you can easily transfer this project to any other library in the proximity of your school and town.


“Zombies” in the Classroom

Teaching “The Troubles” Using Pop Music

by Jacqueline Czerny, Nikola Pilz

Abstract: Music is an important part in most students’ everyday life but often they listen to songs without understanding their real meanings. Thus, it is necessary to enable them to start reflecting on the lyrics critically.
The following teaching idea uses music to introduce a topic that might be rather boring for the students at first sight: the conflict in Northern Ireland. The song “Zombie” by the Irish pop band ‘The Cranberries’ provides an ideal framework. It deals with the terrors of war, especially the impact it has on children. The teaching idea consciously combines different approaches and can be used as an introductory double lesson to the conflict in Northern Ireland. It is meant to be used in 7th grade, but can easily be adapted to higher grades, e.g. by giving more details concerning the politics.


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Wedding of Cultures

Or: How Windex Fixes Everything

by Jacqueline Bauer, Lisa Gagel, Gürcü Sakinc, Ramona Treffler

Abstract: Students are often not impressed by the latest technologies which seem quite hip to us teachers. In contrast: all we get are yawns and bored faces, while we enthusiastically present our latest achievement. A commonly known situation, that is both frustrating and embarrassing. However, there is one invention, which will never get boring: the cinema. Watching a film in a dimmed cinema auditorium, enjoying a captivating movie and listening to the Dolby Surround System while having your friends around you, is something magical, which cannot be recreated in a classroom. Therefore, this teaching idea will show how to combine a movie about intercultural issues and a cinema visit, to motivate the students and leave the classroom behind for a day.


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In the Center of Augsburg

A Guided City Tour by Students

by Louisa Druwe, Simone Nieberle, Katja Rollinger

Abstract: City tours can be unexciting if they are packed with too many facts and presented by bored tour guides. So what about a city tour guided by motivated students? This teaching idea challenges our students to create a captivating city tour for English speakers. By walking from one sight to the other, our city tour offers a perfect impression of Augsburg.


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Straight outta Classroom

Bridging the Gap between Hip Hop and School

by Tom Steppberger

Abstract: Rap music is aggressive, violent and definitely not suitable for school! - or is it? Maybe there is another side to Hip Hop that can be used in an educational way? Trick your students into working intensely with language and a subject of your choice by making an educational rap song with your class.


Parts Unknown

A Video Project à la Anthony Bourdain

by Sylvia Großnick, Susann Tallmadge, Helin Volkan

Abstract: Watching a documentary in class can definitely be spiced up by doing video projects about e.g. the students’ hometown. It is not just a fun activity that enhances media know-how, but also broadens the students’ horizon of different perspectives on the place they have lived at all their lives. Moreover, projects like this are a perfect opportunity for students to trigger their motivation of using the English language outside the classroom. Thus, bridging the gap between school and the students’ real life does not only have to be tricky but it can also encourage the students to talk in a foreign language, as well as it can be rewarding. The following two teaching ideas for Gymnasium and Mittelschule are set around the episode “Punjab, India” of the American TV series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Furthermore, one video project for each school type will be presented (cf. post-tasks).


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Twitter and the Presidential Election in the U.S.A.

Bridging the Gap between the Classroom and Social Media

by Mohammed Graibei, Dominik Ohmann, Alexander Pfaudler

Abstract: Since the launch of Twitter in 2006, the communication tool has long evolved from a niche platform to a global phenomenon and is one of the fighting grounds of this year’s presidential election in the United States. The following unit, designed for 10th grade Realschule students, attempts to use Twitter as a means of creating an authentic English lesson in the context of the 2016 presidential election. Students will learn how to use Twitter effectively, how to create political messages with it and how to convey their arguments concisely in the final debate.


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Summer Term 2015

Ads, Ads, Ads...

TV Commercials in the EFL Classroom

by Renate Hubel

Abstract: Recent research evidence proves that today’s young people in Germany have a strong relationship with media. Computers and the internet, television, and cell phones are their favored devices, and most children and youth can’t imagine a day without using them ( These digital technologies give them access to a vast amount of audio-visual texts and that, at the same time, entails an extensive exposure to advertisement in form of television commercials. That is why it is necessary to enable young people to watch commercials with a critical eye. How this can be realized in the EFL classroom is shown in the following. The idea is to compose a set of lessons that help to develop media literacy skills. Besides this there are two more aims: The learning material is supposed to motivate the students to deal with English and to improve their linguistic skills.


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Warholmania in the Museum Brandhorst

Promoting Intercultural Competence in Another Way

by Maike Dirr, Isabel Sabanés Bové

Abstract: "I never read, I just look at pictures" (Andy Warhol). Images have a great impact on our learning. Why not use this positive influence to facilitate intercultural learning? This lesson plan for advanced students is a combination of learning English within and beyond the classroom. At school and at the museum, students gain an overview of Andy Warhol’s work and create their personal dossier about the artist.


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"Twelve Years a Slave" in the

by Pelin Kacmaz, Sina Zobel

Abstract: The movie "Twelve Years a Slave" is not only useful for language purposes, but also for including historical topics in class. We chose to divide our teaching idea in pre-, while and post-activities. The "segment approach" helps to split the movie in meaningful parts with corresponding tasks. The historical background will be discussed predominantly in the post- activities.


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A Native Speaker Visits
Your Classroom

Opportunities and Commitments That Arise Out of Such a Project

by Anna Krause, Ronja Käser

Abstract: Project work makes learning more vivid. That is why we created a project that combines learning and fun. In order to find out what 4th graders consider to be fun, we asked them what they would like to do if an English native speaker would visit their class. Based on this information, we created a project that includes a visit of a native speaker for one day, a preparation phase before the visit and a postprocessing lesson after the visit.


"The Scarecrow"-Project

Teaching Media Literacy Using Online Commercials

by Maurus Müller, Maria Springer

Abstract: This project uses the online commercial "The Scarecrow" from the restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill to enable students to analyze, evaluate and create marketing techniques in video clips. It is most appropriate for students in grade 10 or above in high school (Gymnasium). The project requires at least 6 lessons and includes presentations of the students’ results. These can serve as an assessment which can also be graded on the basis of the presentation and a handout.

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Do the Quest!

How To Bridge the Gap Between the
Classroom and the Library

by Buket Deniz, Vanessa Mair

Abstract: In order to show students how to use their language skills outside the classroom, this article gives an idea of how to combine regular English lessons with the "outside world" in a motivating way. Therefore we use an adaptation of Müller-Hartmann ́s and Shocker-von Ditfurth ́s TSLL Framework. Including the different phases of this framework, we plan, execute und reflect a task that takes place between the classrrom and the library.


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Country Profiles on Video

Why Not Do Video Presentations in- stead of Boring Posters?

by Benedikt Arvay, Rebecca Cave, Lena Schlittenbauer, Valeriia Zhukova

Abstract: The idea of "Recording of a country profile on Video" is simple: let the students decide what is important when they learn about a so far unknown country and find the most suitable way to present those facts. Record this presentation, show it in class and discuss it with their classmates.


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Classrooms on Air

Connecting Classrooms – Connecting Cultures

by Alexander Engel, Alwin Klein, Fiona Przewieslik, Johannes Thomiczek

Abstract: Year after year, students often experience the monotonous routine of English lessons. The legitimate question poses itself: How can it be achieved to brush off the dust of outdated and gridlocked teaching methods? The following article presents an alternative approach to promoting extramural and authentic English within the classroom by installing a news exchange project between a class in Germany and one in an English-speaking country.


Refugees Welcome: Connecting through Sports

A Project Done by and with Students

by Claudia Raffler, Lisa Ulrich

Abstract: With repeated arson attacks on refugee accommodations or other forms of violence directed at asylum seekers happening throughout Germany, we decided to develop a project that aims at building understanding and respect towards the situation of refugees here in Germany. This project is developed in connection with Stephanie Bajor's seminar "Bridging the Gap – English beyond and within the classroom" at the University of Augsburg and can be adapted to any class level starting grade eight of secondary education.


#augsburg – Our City, Our Home

A Cultural Video Project

by Pia Brüch, Carolin Fingerle, Kim Rychly, Isabelle Wiedemann

Abstract: Your school has a partner school abroad but you are not keeping in touch? You have no idea how to start a long-lasting relationship? Here is an entertaining way to engage your students and the partner school in getting to know each other. Present your school town, show how special it is and how many things there are to do and see.
Each city provides many interesting sights, historical facts and traditions; the project gives the students an understanding of those in a more relaxed environment than in a classroom. With group work and media-centered learning, "#augsburg – our city, our home" is a chance for students to contribute their ideas to subject matter. The project is built on single steps resulting in the shooting of their individual videos about interesting sights or traditions from their town. The joint collection of the self-made videos will be presented to the partner school. As we are students of Augsburg University, we demonstrate the project based on the example of Augsburg. However, the town name in the headline can be replaced by any other.


English in Real Life

How About Discovering Munich with
Your Students Accompanied by a Native
English-Speaking Tour Guide?

by Metin Ünal

Abstract: A comprehensive and enjoyable English language tour is a memorable and exciting experience through the key attractions and historical sites of Munich. It is a great social activity which provides an ideal opportunity for students to gain practical language skills. Exposing pupils to the authentic language atmosphere plays a significant role with respect to providing language input for learning and increasing their motivation as well as improving their social and cultural abilities.