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Outdoor Learning of German and rising Environmental Awareness

With the project " Learning German outdoors and rising Environmental Awareness", we have set ourselves the task of developing materials and a teacher training for outdoor language teaching, thereby introducing movement, environmental competence, sensory experiences and interdisciplinary learning into German lessons. Our aim is to improve children's German language skills and environmental awareness as well as to promote their health and social skills through a holistic approach to language learning.

Our tasks:

  1. To enhance teachers' competencies in outdoor language learning (OLL) through in-service training.
  2. To improve the German language skills and environmental awareness of participating children.
  3. To improve the availability of tools for OLL for teachers in the EU.

The final product of the project will be the extended version of the teachers' portal with materials for outdoor language learning. As part of the project, we will train language teachers in OLL, publish a Europe-wide accessible online course for German teachers, and provide practical materials for teaching German outdoors. Through an impact evaluation, we will assess the effectiveness of the approach and set a basis for further research and practice.

What is Outdoor Language Learning?

In outdoor language learning (OLL), language teaching takes place outside the classroom, with students engaged in meaningful and purposeful communicative tasks. Outdoor language learning focuses on learners' first-hand experiences and the involvement of all the senses. OLL also emphasises guided reflection that bridges new and old knowledge and helps learners develop new linguistic and non-linguistic understandings of their knowledge (Fellner, 2007).

In outdoor language learning, linguistic concepts are absorbed through first-hand experiences, allowing interaction between feelings, actions and thoughts (Szczpanski, 2006). Following the motto "If education is life, it cannot be isolated from the environment in which life takes place" (Hammerman, et al., 2001, p. 23), we can say that this is even more true in the case of language learning. The isolation of many people from their natural environment is one of the causes of our environmental crises.

Criteria for OL activities:

  1. Integrated (OL is not a transfer of indoor activities to the outdoors).
  2. Holistic (cross-curricular)
  3. Experiential (letting students try)
  4. Economical (time should not be "lost"!)

(Lipovec/Lipavic Oštir/Rajšp, 2017)


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