Meet Alexandra Töniges, National German Advisor who started with FLS on 2 September 2019:
Can you tell us about yourself and your hobbies?
Kia ora. I was born in a small town called Korbach (“Hessen”) which is located in the northern part of Germany. After I graduated from school I moved to Cologne – a vibrant, friendly city located by the river Rhine. Ever since I started learning languages at school my curiosity grew to travel to the respective countries in order to apply my knowledge. This is how I ended up travelling and likewise working in different countries.
I am afraid my hobbies are not very extraordinary. I am not involved in any bungy jumping nor any other adrenaline-producing activities in my leisure time. I enjoy activities with my family, travelling, reading, doing sports and the newcomer in my free time is gardening.
What interests you about education?
Scio me nihil scire ( Sokrates)
Only one thing I know, and that is that I know nothing
What I love about education is that it keeps us going and turns us all into lifelong learners. I found it most interesting to find the triggers that put wanting to find out more about something into action.
You are a teacher; what have some of your highlights in the classroom been?
I have always enjoyed being in the classroom and sharing my interest in languages with my students. I have always enjoyed students’ feedback. Especially when students wrote to me even after their graduation telling me how well they coped in a foreign country and how much they enjoyed applying their knowledge of the foreign language in real-life situations.
Who or what pedagogy has influenced you in your career and why?
I am a big believer of the idea that Rome was not built in one day – but equally that not all ways lead to Rome. What I mean when applying these notions to pedagogy is that each learner is different, each learning environment and its set-ups are different. Therefore, I am rather in favour of eclectic approaches that need to be adopted adequately to the respective learning environments.
What experience do you bring to this job?
I started giving tutoring lessons in foreign languages to younger students at a very early stage – throughout my years at university I was then able to constantly gain teaching experiences at different kinds of schools as well as in different countries. Surprisingly enough when I graduated, I did not opt for teaching but for journalism and - for a short time – considered working in the music industry instead. But I really missed the teaching environment, so I decided to do my teacher training in the UK (PGCE). Ever since then I have been working as a teacher of foreign languages. I have attended workshops in the UK on a regular basis over the past years to keep up-to-date. In hindsight, I think that my working experiences in other branches benefitted my teaching career for various reasons. In order not to forget how it feels to be exposed to a foreign language in the classroom, I have been studying Spanish and Italian in my free time. However, in fairness I am not that much of a martyr as I love languages.
What is an achievement that you are most proud of in your career?
I cannot really recall anything in particular. But it feels good to see that I am able to keep myself on my toes even though it can be quite challenging sometimes when life gets in your way. Having said this, I have always enjoyed it when I have been able to motivate students to carry on, to persevere and to set out new challenges. This is what I would consider as a great achievement and what I value a lot.
What excites you most about working in New Zealand?
There is a lot of excitement going on. First of all, I am very excited about my job – as it is a new challenge for me. I appreciate the fact immensely to be working in such an international context. Simultaneously, I am really looking forward to getting to know Aotearoa, its people and the broad variety of its culture. I cannot wait to explore the unique landscape of this country. At the same time, I am very keen to share and pass on my culture to my new home. On top of all that I think it is a unique opportunity to be able to share all that with my family. I am very excited to be here with them. Each member of our family has different and new experiences every day and it is great to share them.
What do you hope to see during your time in New Zealand?
I hope to experience New Zealand in as many different ways as I can. That includes getting to know the people, the customs and the diversity of the culture. I hope to be able to see as much as I can.
Alexandra Töniges, National German Advisor - Future Learning Solutions
Asien Pazifik Deutsch Olympiade (Asia Pacific German Olympics)
Eine Woche im August. Sechsundsechzig Teilnehmer im Alter von 15-17 Jahren aus 11 Ländern, zusammen mit Begleitpersonen, Betreuern und Mitarbeitern des Goethe-Instituts haben sich in Bogor, Indonesien getroffen. Anlass war die APDO (Asien-Pazifik Deutsch Olympiade) 2019. Das Ziel war auf Deutsch miteinander zu kommunizieren und Preise in einem Wettbewerb zu gewinnen. Schüler*innen aus Australien, Indien, Indonesien, Kambodscha, Malaysia, Myanmar, Neuseeland, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand und Vietnam haben diese Herausforderung angenommen. Sie haben Ausflüge und Aufführungen gemacht und Gruppenarbeiten und individuelle Aufgaben erledigt. Der Wettbewerb hat im Ibis Styles Bogor Hotel stattgefunden, neben einem Golfresort im tropischen Bogor, südlich von Jakarta. Das Team Neuseeland hat sich aus Schüler*n*innen der Diocesan School for Girls, Green Bay High School, Mt Albert Grammar School, Newlands College und Raphael House Rudolf Steiner Schule zusammengesetzt. Irja Häfliger, Lehrerin der Raphael House Schule hat das Team begleitet.
Ein Erfahrungsbericht einer Schüler*in:
Mein erster Eindruck von Indonesien war das tropische Klima, und wie die Stӓdte aufgebaut sind. Die Straßen sind für Motorrӓder gebaut, und offensichtlich nicht für Autos! Die Häuser waren eng aneinander gebaut.
Im Hotel gab es eine große Auswahl westlicher und asiatischer Speisen.
Wir haben uns das Zimmer geteilt. Meine Stubenkameradin war aus Sri Lanka.
Es war sehr heiß und feucht draußen, aber im Hotel haben wir uns wohl gefühlt. Es gab ein Schwimmbad. Morgens haben wir Neuseeländer und Australier geschwommen.
Anfangs hatten wir viele Kennenlernaktivitäten, später haben wir in Gruppen gearbeitet. Eine Aktivität war eine Schnitzeljagd. Wir haben Poster gemacht (einzeln und in Gruppen). Wir haben ein Poster über das Land eines Partners gemacht. Wir haben auch eins über Naturwissenschaft gemacht (nach einer Wissenschaftsshow). Meine Lieblingsaktivität war der Länderabend. Alle haben ihre Lӓnder und Kulturen prӓsentiert. Es wurden Tӓnze vorgestellt, Lieder gesungen und es gab Prӓsentationen auf Deutsch. Wir haben Lieder auf Māori gesungen und die Jungen haben den anderen einen Haka beigebracht. Mir hat es sehr gut gefallen, mehr über die anderen Kulturen zu lernen, und neue Leute, Teilnehmer und Betreuer kennenzulernen.
Es war eine fantastische Woche! Herzlichen Dank an Irja Häfliger und vielen vielen Dank an das Goethe-Institut für diese besondere Erfahrung!
Janelle Wood, Professional Expert – Centre for Languages
30th Anniversary of the German Reunification - 30 Jahre “ Tag der Deutschen Einheit”
The 3rd of October is an important date for Germany - and especially this year. The 3rd of October 2019 was a very special and remarkable day. For 30 years now Germans have been celebrating this day as one country – as a country that has been reunited for 30 years.
Even in 1989 all over the world no-one really believed that this would ever happen. Since I arrived in this country at the end of August this year, I have already come across many New Zealanders who have kindly shared their memories of those historic days in 1989 with me. On a personal level, we as a family, were very blessed to be able to celebrate our national holiday the 3rd of October in Aotearoa, in Wellington, in your gorgeous “Beehive” Parliament with many New Zealanders and Germans together.
If you are interested in digging a bit deeper into German history from that time, I can recommend the movies: “ Goodbye Lenin” by Wolfgang Becker; “Gundermann” by Andreas Dresen; and “Sonnenallee” by Leander Haussmann, or the German TV-Series “Weissensee” by Friedberg Fromm. But there are also movies done by New Zealanders that pick up on those unique days.
The movie “An Accidental Berliner” is a movie created by New Zealand Tony Forster who happened to be in Germany at that time.
If you are rather keen on doing some reading over the holidays, “Der Turm” by Uwe Tellkamp, any book by Clemens Meyer, or the graphic novel “Kinderland” by Marcus “Mawil” Witzel introduce you also to some “Germaness” related to that historic time.
The following link provides a brief summary of the events in rather simple German and could also be used in German classes: