I’m Rebecca Panter, a seventh-year in the German department and CSLS Graduate Student Affiliate for 2014–2015. My first experiences with teaching were as an English Teaching Assistant at a vocational school in Germany, where, among other things, I taught a conversation course to a group of high school students learning to be carpenters. In the years since this introduction to pedagogy, I have gone on to teach all of the beginner and intermediate German language courses at Vanderbilt, some of them multiple times.
A recurring feature in my classroom teaching is the use of games or game-like activities for language instruction. Uncertain outcomes, goal-orientedness, and a degree of competition bring elements of suspense and fun into the activities. One of my aims as a teacher is to facilitate an energetic atmosphere in class that encourages everyone to show their most talkative side.
As a language instructor, I see my role as more than just a conductor of exercises. I believe that students learn best when they can form an emotional connection to what they are learning, so I strive to create situations that involve, for example, curiosity, suspense, humor, or surprise. In the attempt to realize this goal, I am continually looking for ways to incorporate narrative into my classes – be it in the form of literature, film, other media, or student-generated narratives. In the past, I have also enjoyed experimenting with using social media such as YouTube and Twitter for class assignments. At the moment, I am hoping to combine three of my fascinations – narrative, games, and technology – by using the game engine Unity 3D to build a virtual world based on a literary text.
I look forward to blogging more on this topic as my project develops!