Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Module Concepts

Stephan Breidbach


In the Section of Foreign Language Education, we regard teaching and learning at university level as an ongoing process for students and teachers alike. Students acquire a range of competences as a future teacher of English. For those who teach, the task is to stimulate and supervise this process.

For that very reason, teacher education precisely does not mean “imparting knowledge”, “instruction” or “training”. Within the tightly-packed structures of BA and MEd programmes, it is easy to mistake teaching for instruction and learning for learning by rote: Time is short and the number of fields in which future teachers of English are expected to become competent is vast. Today, however, for pertinent reasons, this type of “learning” is no longer considered appropriate, neither for the schools you will be teaching in, nor for a teacher education programme.

At university, two different perspectives on foreign language teaching and the foreign language teacher converge (For a model of the various competences involved, cf. Wolfgang Nieke: “Kompetenz.” In: Otto, Hans-Uwe, Thomas Rauschenbach und Peter Vogel, eds. Erziehungswissenschaft: Professionalität und Kompetenz. Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 2002. 13-27.):

  1. a perspective focusing on academic knowledge and skills, and institutional and societal contexts of foreign language education;
  2. a reflective perspective focusing on personal growth and individual professional development of future foreign language teachers.

It is the juxtaposition of these two perspectives that will enable you to develop the various professional, pedagogic and didactic competences you will require as a foreign language teacher in the sense of a reflective practitioner (D. Schön).


1. The academic, institutional perspective

From this perspective, acquisition of academic knowledge and foreign language pedagogies are vital to reflect upon and evaluate theory and practice in TESOL. Additionally, recent developments in society that are likely to influence the future generation of foreign language teachers also play an important role.

1. 1 The knowledge and skills dimension of didactic competence comprises areas such as

  • history, fundamental terms and basic concepts of foreign language education
  • curricular models and methodology of foreign language education
  • methods of diagnosing, testing and assessing foreign language ability and performance
  • feedback techniques and pedagogic mentoring

1.2 The institutional dimension of didactic competence comprises areas such as

  • institutional and administrative frameworks of foreign language education,
  • assessment within and outside of classroom settings
  • the status and role of foreign language education within the school curriculum
  • the role of foreign language education as a social aim.

We believe that developing a sound understanding of both dimensions will contribute to the students’ ability to make critical judgments about policies affecting foreign language education and finally your classroom-teaching.


2. The social and self-reflective perspective

This perspective focuses on learning and development of both teacher students and their future language students in the classroom. Future teachers need to reflect their individual motivations and experiences in language learning. They should also be aware of the learners’ perceptions of English as a language as such and English as one subject among many within the school-curriculum.

2.1 The social dimension of didactic competence comprises areas such as

  • planning, conducting and evaluating lessons in response to the needs of particular groups of learners
  • reflection on teachers’ perceptions of their own agency
  • reflection on the learners’ diversified paths of learning and development.


2.2 The self-reflective dimension of didactic competence comprises areas such as

  • reflection on professional self-perception / the motivation to teach and learn
  • analysis and diversification of one’s repertoire of skills for classroom interaction
  • reflection of the individual teaching philosophy.


The acquisition of competence in the context of modularization The entire programme of study is modularized. The idea behind this is to build on the previous modules in consecutive order and increasing complexity. This makes it necessary to extend, complement and integrate the various competences acquired as you progress throughout the programme.

Your efforts will have been successful if you become increasingly able to bring to life your teaching philosophy in an authentic and meaningful, yet critical and self-reflective way.