Communicative Language Learning
In foreign language classes, active and communicative language use is of great importance. Our German students in grade 4 learn from the very beginning to use their language skills in communicative situations, to fulfill tasks and to practice and experiment newly acquired langue content. For young learners it is very important to actively use the language, instead of just to rote learn content, which they would use in a test. If that happens, the acquired language knowledge will not be assimilated and quickly forgotten, after a test or a school semester.
The students of grade 4 had to demonstrate their ability to handle a communicative situation in which they would meet a stranger (like a new kid in school or a new neighbor). They had to come up with a set of questions that they could ask, that the other student was also able to understand and then they had to write down the answers. The tricky language part in this scenario was that for the question, answer and the written notes the personal pronouns change, which requires in German a different conjugation of the verb.
So the students are constantly faced with challenging situations when communicating in class. Not only do they need to understand and respond to questions and prompts, they also need to be aware of grammar, which is very different from Chinese or English.
The students enjoy those activities a lot and demonstrate great ingenuity when engaged in communicative tasks. If they struggle at certain points they try to help each other out, or circumvent difficult language by using similar expressions. Through this they learn to be flexible with the language and realize that there are many more ways to express themselves, than they could learn from textbooks or that are asked in tests.