English language training Gera (Turntable Project)

There are two groups in Gera which consist of about 8 young people (they are all in their early 20ies). The female/male ratio is roughly 50/50. Both groups are on a program called ‘Turntable’ the idea of which is to help them find a new job in Germany or another European country. Some of the participants are at B1.2 or even B2 while others are still at A2 and even A1. Still, they are all very interested in using and improving their English. Here are the topics I have covered with them so far:

  • the NATO alphabet
  • English abbreviations used in German (FBI, CIA, CSI, OK, JFK, GI, George W, BBC, CNN, IBM, J. Lo, USB, JR, YMCA, DJ, VIP, ET, IT, etc.)
  • spelling words with and without the NATO alphabet
  • English words used in German (we first brainstormed them, then we put them into the following categories: entertainment/music/movies, technology and communication, sports, business and commerce)
  • the EU: countries, capitals, nationalities, languages, currencies (the groups did most of this themselves, I only had to add about 20% of the information)
  • reading an article on using YouTube and cell phones in the classroom, discussing the pros and cons of allowing electronic devices in the classroom
  • preparing and giving a presentation on their favorite pop/rock band (one person, Pawel is actually the lead singer in the Heavy Metal band ‘Barracuda Bite’. He presented some songs from their first album including the video they have produced. It looks very professional.)
  • grammar: simple present, present progressive
  • reading and discussion: smoking ban in public places in Germany, the EU and the US
Please review all of the items above. Then, have each group member prepare a presentation on their job and the companies they have applied for jobs so far. Some of the participants are
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interested in finding a job in the UK. Please help them create their CV/professional profile in English. The group can get access to the Internet so please incorporate online activities such as job search,

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booking a flight and hotel room, ordering office equipment, finding suppliers, etc.


German cities and communities are so complacent!

I»m currently working in Gera, a city in Thuringia, Central Germany. Since I»m teaching English to two groups of young people from Gera I checked the website of their city to see if there is any information there in English. Much to my dismay, Gera.de looks awful on every level. What»s worse, you can»t just type «gera.de» into your browser. You need to add «www» which shows that the website operators are some amateurs at best. Also, after you type in www.gera.de you get the following URL which is anything but a «speaking URL»: http://www.gera.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=10213 As you can see, they use a German CMS called «Six» provided by the German company Six Offene Systeme GmbH whose website is German only too. I wouldn»t trust any CMS that doesn»t have any documentation in English and which is developed by a company that doesn»t have an English version of their website. Of course there is not a single word in English at www.gera.de — why should there be? Now that Gera has been part of Western Europe ever since Germany»s reunification, their citizens should have long realized the economic potential they could use if they provided information about their region in English. Since their website is in German only, Gera literally doesn»t exist outside of Germany. An American tourist will never find this place! But then again Gera»s website is not developed by its citizens but by an mobile casino administration which is financed through public funds raised by taxes and subsidies. Why would anyone in Gera bother about the website of their city? If anything, an English version could result in even more foreigners coming to their region. In a recent survey 50% of the participants in Thuringia said they felt intimidated by too many foreigners. (The official rate of foreigners in Thuringia is below 3%.) You can»t expect the mayor of Gera, Dr. Norbert Vornehm to create an English version of his city»s website, can you?

I then went on and checked the websites of other medium sized German cities and got the same result: They are in German only. Interestingly enough, the websites of Leipzig and Chemnitz are in the following languages: German, English, Czech, Polish and French. That»s a good start casino online/a> but I wonder why their sites are in Polish and Czech and not also in Russian? There are more Russian speaking citizens, tourists and business people in Saxony than people from the Czech Republic and Poland combined. There are lots of Russian born Germans who moved here from Kazakhstan and Ukrainians of Jewish decent who speak Russian as their first language. So what would make perfect sense to have a Russian version of any German city»s website. Now, what about French? Only a handful French find their way to our region every year so before investing into maintaining a French version of leipzig.de it would be much more useful and effective to provide information in Russian. The Russians were the ones who helped us get rid of the Nazi regime before the FRG could be founded and now we are making a great effort to ignore them? Only one Saxon city stands out positively when it comes to the Internet: Dresden. Their website is has 8 language versions: German, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Czech, Polish and Russian! Thank you, Dresden. You are a clever and

modern city and if Leipzig doesn»t get its act together within the next few years, I»ll move!