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Language professor’s new publications offer classroom-tested lessons

Whether it’s a lesson plan or team project, a class chocolate-chip-cookie baking or the aroma of freshly brewed coffee  – if it works in professor Mohamed Esa’s classroom, he shares it with other teachers.

In fact, his two most recent publications and another in progress do just that – share activities and materials that Esa designed to immerse his students in the German language and culture. “Kurzfilm” (8-12 min. short films) and “Musik im Deutschunterricht” (“Teaching German through music” or “Music in the German classroom”) center learning on German film and music respectively to meet the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century, so called the five C’s.

“Communication, culture, comparison, connections and communities,” Esa says, explaining that learning a foreign language goes well beyond the spoken and written word. Music, film, fairytales – another topic in Esa’s expertise – all prompt students to make comparisons with and connections to their own culture.

 

“Kurzfilm,” co-authored with Esa’s colleague, Northwestern professor Ingrid Zeller, and researched by Esa’s student Dave Arnold ’11, includes a DVD with all of the six films featured with lesson plans in the book.

“We chose a mixture of films – comedies, history, culture – that would be good for discussion,” says Esa, who has received international recognition for his innovative teaching, including the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) Outstanding German Educator of the Year award and the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Among the films, “The Puzzle” takes place in Hamburg, a German port city with strong comparisons to Baltimore. “Dufte” features an elderly woman not so discreetly smuggling a package of coffee for her husband during the 1950s into East Germany from West Berlin. When she is caught, anther passenger in the train compartment tells the police she is the smuggler, and then after the police confiscate her coffee and leave the compartment, the man who told on her opens his suitcase full of coffee and gives her three packages.

It’s all, of course, in German. Including the discussion in Esa’s classroom. The same is true for lessons built on a musical foundation.

“I’ve been teaching with music for a long, long time now and have done workshops for teachers around the world,” says Esa, who directs both German and Arabic studies at McDaniel.

He’s taken the best 15 of his music lesson plans for publication in “Musik im Deutschunterricht,” which was published in CD format with a cover designed and illustrated by two McDaniel students, Lily Galzerano ’15 and Kellie Jones ’12. Esa dedicated the publication to AATG executive director Helene Zimmer-Loew in recognition of her 25 years of service. All proceeds – “every penny,” Esa says – will fund study abroad scholarships through the AATG.  

 
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