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Durham University

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Wilson, Penelope (2018). Human and Deltaic Environments in Northern Egypt in Late Antiquity. Late Antique Archaeology 12(1): 42-62.

Author(s) from Durham


Exclusively teaching the receptive skill of reading texts in a foreign language with
no training in language production might seem to be a pedagogical relic and to contradict the
communicative approach in foreign language teaching. However, it is a much-needed
pedagogical tool for equipping postgraduate researchers with the necessary skill of reading
academic literature in a foreign language. The aim is to enable learners who frequently have
no prior knowledge of the language in a short period of time to independently read texts
specific to their research.
This article aims to illustrate the challenges of developing face-to-face as well as online courses
for the specific purpose of teaching reading skills in German and other languages to
postgraduate students at Durham University and to discuss the underlying pedagogy thereof.
After giving a short history of how these courses were set up at Durham University, we will
state the aims and intended learning outcomes of a reading skills course and describe the
pedagogical peculiarities and challenges that such courses entail, underpinned by educational
theory. We will discuss the issue of vocabulary acquisition, offering practical solutions, and
give concrete examples of the materials used, including online resources and materials
specifically created by the tutors, as well as pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the
German textbooks currently available. We will share our experience in the classroom, with
online teaching as well as our provision for self-study. At the end of the paper we will include
links to some free online resources for primarily German and French.
This paper aims to contribute to the continuing dissemination of good practice in the teaching of
reading skills in German, which can also be transferred to other Western European languages.