Two separate political developments – the establishment of a common European market in 1993 and the fundamental changes in East European countries – are considered to have far-reaching consequences for foreign language teaching and learning in Germany. It is argues that in the field of foreign language teaching, a flexibility is required which would accommodate constantly changing needs for foreign language competence and skills, particularly in such languages which have no traditional place in curricula. School leavers can no longer be taught everything they need at school; they must be prepared to improve and adapt their knowledge out of their own initiative. The establishment of university studies in which the teaching of each subject is accompanied by a foreign language course, is discussed as one possible way to meet with this tasks.
The following article reviews and comments on the last twenty years of research on German as a foreign language (“Deutsch als Fremdsprache”) and German as a second language (“Deutsch als Zweitsprache”). Some important notional and theoretical categories are considered, followed by an overview of the possibilities of learning and teaching German as a foreign language in Germany and abroad. Interrelations between linguistic research on German in general as well as on German as a foreign or second language are discussed. Emphasis is laid on the important theoretical and methodological concepts on which research on both German a s a foreign and a second language has oriented itself during the period in question, as well as the consequences they have entailed. The overviews of the problems of teaching German as a foreign language and the role of German Studies within the teaching of German as a foreign language are followed by the final section dealing with the international role of German compared to that of other languages. The appendices contain some practical hints for students.
The concept of prejudice is discussed in relation to attitudes, stereotypes and their relevance to the individual in society. As empirical studies on foreign language learning point to the dialectic relationship between linguistic competence, intercultural awareness and prejudiced thinking, these aspects are discussed in the light of theories of attitude change. Though prejudices are widely accepted as a general phenomenon of human perception it is argued that foreign language teaching stands a unique chance to counteract its manifestations by combining the affective and cognitive processing of information.
In this article the author suggests that schema theory offers a framework which helps us to relate theory and research to the practice of foreign language teaching. Especially in the context of teacher education, it can illuminate the role of theory in making the teacher’s map of classroom reality more open to explicit examination, so that is can be amended in the direction of a better match with the reality of classroom experience. It can also facilitate communication between teachers and researchers by highlighting important features which the two activities share.