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The Three Pillars of DaF

Research on Language Education and Acquisition

Language acquisition is one of the central topics of DaF and DaZ (German as a Second Language). In Munich, the academic interest in qualified scientific findings is comprehensive: from qualitative and quantitative research across all courses for vocational schools, joint degree courses with foreign universities, academic training and continued development and the development of curriculum and teaching material, as well as language and cultural teaching institutions and educational facilities. Language acquisition research in Munich is integrated with research networks across Germany, The Munich Center of Learning Sciences and various international research and training cooperations. This is one of the divisions of the faculty that receives the most third-party funding.

The three main areas of research into the processes of foreign and second language acquisition are:

  • cognitive and linguistic aspects of language processing (development and acquisition of the “mental lexicon”, development of mental models, textuality and hypertextuality, image and text processing, reading research, learner grammar, action-oriented learning, cognitive didactics, multilingualism and transculturation)
  • social, psychological, linguistic and didactic aspects of the integration of migrants (Integration through language/multilingualism, influences of the learning culture, analysis of educational studies, learners’ biographies, best practice, error correction and testing, quality management)
  • the use of modern media (animated grammar, promotion of cognitive processes through use of media, collaborative learning, communication in cyberspace)

Linguistics and Multilingualism

Linguistics and multilingualism represent the second central focal point of the Institute’s work. This section teaches basic information about the system of the language and the ways in which humans handle it. We deal with topics that are relevant for research and teaching of DaF such as knowledge of grammatical characteristics of the German language, the different varieties of the German language and their uses, the mental interconnectedness of languages, the legality of and differences between spoken and written language, as well as the use of language and its change in the media.
Multilingualism, a central aspect of DaF, focuses on the question of how a speaker can optimize his linguistic and communicative resources. This is another essential and innovative field of research at the Institute. In November 2013, the International Research Division for Multilingualism (IFM: Internationale Forschungsstelle für Mehrsprachigkeit) was founded and became affiliated with the Institute. The scientific research findings generated by the IFM are available to the public and shared with professionals and interested citizens. Furthermore, internationally renowned scientists can conduct research and teach at the IFM

At the Munich Institute the basics of linguistics, including the following, are taught and researched:

  • In the area of technical and academic language. Among the questions explored are: what distinguishes texts in subject-specific terminology, how do scientific languages differ from each other and which linguistic elements are characteristic of the German scientific language?
  • In the area of research on multilingualism: The aim is to explore how multilingual persons acquire textual skills in multiple languages and how the languages influence each other, or how linguistic minorities slowly forget their mother tongue.
  • In the area of research on language contact: The question is how languages influence each other and how the German language changes under the influence of other languages.

Intercultural Philology – Research on Literature and the Teaching of Literature

The third focal point at the Institute encompasses literary research and teaching with the intercultural aspects of literature at the center. By productively and critically dealing with the wide spectrum of cultural concepts and cultural science research programs, literary texts, subjects, genres, motifs and linguistic forms are accessed to allow for reflection on foreignness and culture.

The intercultural philology in the context of global interconnection is a topical issue. Analyses at the interface of literature, culture and society are often interdisciplinary. For example literary dimensions of intercultural and transcultural powers such as migration, globalization, and transnationalism are being explored.