Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 850 Word Story

For several years here in Germany, there's been this perception that kids are slipping on use of the German language and their ability to write.  Some will say it's serious (university entry is becoming a problem) and some will say that it's nothing new (it's been this for decades).

I noticed in the HR news listing (our Hessen public network) a piece on a new trend being started here in Hessen.

The Culture Minister of Hessen has made up this program and listed out 850 words which need to be emphasized and repeated often in school.  It's German words for apple, butter, taxi, etc.  Simple words, if you ask me.

The suggestion is that you'd routinely put kids through some drill and repeat these words often.

This was probably not the suggestion that some folks were looking for.....expecting more teachers to be hired.

Is there a true problem?  Most of what I see are the same trends that you'd recognize in the US.  Limited reading, marginal efforts on introduction of literature, more interest in TV, etc.  Add in the fact that 60-percent of society are not destined for some university or some job which requires a vocabulary of 12,000 words.

In the German problem, you also have to stir in the fact that some schools are having to deal with kids from various countries other than Germany, and the schools simply don't have the resources to tutor on better language skills.

So come this fall in some Hessen schools....the kids will note some poster on the wall with 850 words and realize they have to use these words often to make the teacher happy.

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