I originally studied to become a higher secondary school teacher in English, Sociology and Political Education at the University of Bamberg. I gathered practical teaching experience in teaching placements during that time. Beside the open-mindedness of the students and the fun I had teaching, I was, however, confronted with some prejudices among some teachers against a blind teacher. It has to be said that I only met a small percentage of teachers, and many others likely don’t think that way; nonetheless, it was an eye opener for me, and I really didn’t fancy having to demonstrate that a blind guy can be as good a teacher.
My interest in linguistics and specifically sociolinguistics and variety studies was deepened during my academic year as a visiting student in Galway. I came to the conclusion that I can contribute to teaching through the research side of it and decided to take this route after my return to Bamberg.
At the time, BA and MA degrees were only being introduced in the German university system. I had started college when the decision whether to graduate with a Master’s, Diploma or State Exam in teaching was made at the very beginning. Thanks to a considerable overlap of courses between the Magister degree and the different kinds of teaching degrees I was able to switch to the Magister Artium degree without losing any time.</p<
Thus I graduated from the University of Bamberg with a Master’s in English Linguistics, English Literature and Sociology. Because of my previous teaching course, I have the additional knowledge in psychology, didactics, adult education and political science. A compulsory part of the teaching degree was the “Latinum”, the big Bavarian Lating exam, and I am very proud that I was the only student in my course who got a 1.0 top mark in the written Latin exam and a 1.7 overall. Still an A! Speaking of standing out as a blind guy! 🙂
PhD Research at Maynooth University
My research combines variety studies and second language teaching and learning, namely the effect of native language (L1) dialects on second language (L2) learning and teaching.
In a nutshell: The traditional view postulates that it is our native language, our mother tongue that we grow up with and that we are most familiar with. In terms of language learning this implies that over 360 Million people in more than 50 countries worldwide where English is THE or ONE official language are lumped in together under the label ‘English native speakers’. I strongly disagree with this view.
If we were listening to a group of English native speakers from Australia, Texas, Malta, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland and the south of England, to name but a few, we would immediately notice that the accents, i.e. the sound patterns which these speakers are familiar with vary dramatically. The perception of sound patterns in the native dialect effects the perception of sounds in a target language.
In my PhD at Maynooth University I study the sound systems of Irish English and Irish (as the first L2 of the vast majority of Irish students) and the effect on the students’ acquisition of German.