Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities - German in Multilingual Contexts

The Many Sides of German

Educational materials on language variation




WHAT does "the many sides of German" mean?



"The many sides of German" is an intervention programme that targets social and linguistic biases at school and kindergarten towards linguistic variation, nonstandard language use, and speakers of low-prestige dialects and heritage languages in Germany. The programme offers a comprehensive package for trainers in teachers’ continuing education, with materials that draw on antibias and antiracism pedagogics.


For WHOM are the materials intended?



The materials are intended for use by two main groups:

  • trainers who organise continuing education programmes for school and kindergarten teachers,
  • kindergarten and school teachers who use the materials in classroom.

The materials cover three levels:

  • kindergartens,
  • primary schools,
  • secondary schools.


WHY is this important?



Curricular framework specifications for schools in Germany do acknowledge the repertoires of young speakers, and take into account their different communicative choices including nonstandard language use. However, this does not necessarily translate into a classroom reality in which competences in variants other than an idealised monolingual “standard German” are acknowledged and appreciated. Rather, there tends to be an exclusive focus on competences in formal, ‘standard’ German, disregarding other linguistic resources, and this neglect can lead to negative linguistic stereotyping: nonstandard language use is then often regarded as evidence for a lack of linguistic proficiency independently of the speech situation, and as an obstacle for educational success.

To target this, the project complements conventional approaches to language training and language diagnostics by focusing on the social dimension of linguistic evaluations and addressing social impediments to an objective appraisal of the linguistic competences of children and adolescents from underprivileged social groups.

WHAT does this website offer?



The programme offers materials to be implemented in modules for initial and continuing teachers’ education, and classroom materials for school and kindergarten projects.

All materials are in German. The English version of this website gives a general overview of the project and a short description of the aims and contents of each unit.

The materials can be downloaded separately according to the level of education (kindergarten, primary school, secondary school). Each unit offers a handbook that describes the application of the materials, together with accompanying files such as audio or video clips, PowerPoint slides, or worksheets. Additionally, the download section offers an overarching handbook for all units.

Thematically, materials are organised into three modules:

  • D1, Language Perception: I hear who you are. Attitudes towards different ways of speaking and speech communities.
  • D2, Language Use: Who speaks what? The repertoire of speakers.
  • D3, Language System, Development, and Change: What is German? The gamut of a language.