German - Term 3, 2020

Goethe-Institut Winterfeier

On Friday 3rd July the Goethe-Institut held a Winterfeier as there were several special reasons for celebration. One reason was to celebrate getting through what has been for everyone an interesting (to say the least) first half of the year. 

We welcomed Alexandra Töniges, the new National German Adviser. Alexandra joined us from Cologne in September of last year. 

We farewelled Christian Kahnt, the Director of the Goethe-Institut Wellington, before he left with his family for a post in Munich. He gave an entertaining speech which included anecdotes such as his first impressions of Aotearoa New Zealand during winter and being introduced to ‘winter-deniers’. 

Click link below to watch Lifeswap Episode 3:

Mr Stefan Krawielicki, the German Ambassador, entertained us and explained the work Christian Kahnt has done over the last four years. 
We celebrated the authors of Lifeswap, William and Steffen, by watching a few of their videos which had everyone in the room in hysterics.

We celebrated the work of Judith Geare and her Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to language education and New Zealand-Germany relations (which Judith referred to as the award given to “Team New Zealand - Germany” - see same link above to watch Lifeswap Episode 10). 

Mr Stefan Krawielicki informed us that Judith has worked for the Goethe-Institut for the past 33 years! As this is after her years of teaching German in schools, it is then ‘kein Wunder’ that she brings such a wealth of knowledge and a wide network to the New Zealand Germany community. Judith also manages to always assist those she supports with seemingly boundless enthusiasm, for which she is admired around the nation (and quite probably the world)! 

The Winterfeier was a wonderful occasion to laugh, celebrate and meet old and new friends, ranging from Goethe-Institut and the German Embassy staff, representatives from cultural partner organisations, teachers, friends and family members.

Photo: Judith Geare, Goethe-Institut Wellington

Article by Janelle Wood, Facilitator, Future Learning Solutions - Centre for Languages 

Herzlichen Glückwunsch, liebe Judith Geare zu dieser herausragenden Leistung!
Ein riesengroßes Dankeschön für alles, was Du in den vielen Jahren für die deutsche Sprache, den Austausch, die LehrerInnen und Deutschlernenden und und und .... in Neuseeland gemacht hast!
Einfach nur wunderbar!  - Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser

German Teachers Immersion Day

Following the Goethe-Institut Winterfeier on 3rd July, the Goethe-Institut delivered an Immersion Day for teachers on Saturday 4th July. As the 2020 NZALT conference and subsequent Immersion Days in Wellington were postponed until next year due to the Coronavirus, staff thought this would be a good event to hold the day after the Winterfeier. The Goethe-Institut staff thought that even if a small number of teachers were able to attend at rather short notice, it would still be worthwhile, and were happily surprised that approximately 30 teachers were able to attend.

Before lunch, teachers rotated around ‘teaser’ sessions to decide which topic was of special interest to them for a longer session in the afternoon. These included topics such as Diversity, Handball and CLiL, and Lernziele (learning goals/intentions). Teachers also considered how they might be able to contribute to the building up of materials to be used with the Lifeswap series of videos, how they might most want to make use of The Power of Emotions exhibition materials, and experienced ‘Stuhlyoga’ and meditation in German.

We also enjoyed sessions on making Glühwein (mulled wine) and/or Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese delicacy) which became contributions to the lunchtime meal. 

On behalf of teachers and representatives from NZALT who attended, I would like to thank Nonta Leifeld (German Language Assistant), Frank Stoltenberg (NZ Handball Federation), Alexandra Töniges (National German Adviser), Judith Geare and Anke Szczepanski and their team at the Goethe-Institut for providing all with a valuable and fun learning day! Vielen Dank!


Photo 1: Teachers look over the power of emotions resources, Photo 2: Teachers working together to prepare Obatzda

Article by Janelle Wood, Facilitator, Future Learning Solutions - Centre for Languages 

Learning German via Handball

In New Zealand, a groundswell project of using the Olympic Sport of Handball in the foreign language classroom, is underway. 

Frank Stoltenberg, founder of the New Zealand Handball Federation, has recently collaborated with Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser, to create an educational video and series of online teaching sessions where students studying German are introduced to Handball in the classroom. 

“It’s not physical education, but it’s about getting the body and brain moving’ says Stoltenberg. “It is well known that physical activity can help children learn.” 

The teaching method introduces students to Handball rules, warm up exercises, playing the game, the history, the culture and even famous players and teams are discussed in class. 

A key component of the methodology is to let children practice the game on the schoolyard or school gym. For this, the teacher does not need any physical education experience. It’s more about very simple movements and actions that involve the whole class. 

Stoltenberg explains it more than simply teaching them words “’Vorwärts, Rückwärts, Links, Rechts, Springen”. These terms would be common keywords used to instruct students for the warm up routine. And of course there is also ’Eins, Zwei Drei, Werf, and Fang’ as words used to explain the basic concepts of taking three steps and passing the ball”. 

Töniges is impressed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by students in the pilot project. She explains that “the vocabulary can be adjusted by the teacher depending on the student's ability and understanding.” However, thorough preparation is required from the teacher side to exploit the full potential of this so called CLIL-approach (Content language integrated learning). 

Even for non-sporting students there are activities to undertake, such as designing team logo and playing shirts, fan chants, and making player biographies, all of which can be created in German. 

“Students get a sense of belonging, because they are building a team, with playing positions and maybe even actual games to play. It encourages engagement from the whole class and inspires student to see pathways for where learning a different language and culture can lead.” Stoltenberg explains. “We can also see potential to run the same project teaching other languages such French and Spanish, as these languages are synonymous with strong Handball playing countries and therefore allow for a lot of subject matter and cultural research for students to explore.” 

The project particularly suits English speaking countries where statistically speaking Handball is less known. With this ‘handicap’ teachers will find students more alert as they learn about a sport they may only have seen once or twice in the Olympics. “This is important to ensure that all students in the class are ‘beginners’ to create a balanced learning experience for the whole class.” Stoltenberg explains. 

The concept was first presented at a German teacher's conference in Wellington and has now been picked up by several schools around New Zealand.

For more information about the project please contact the project coordinator Frank Stoltenberg, via or contract Alexandra Töniges at


Photo 1: Students playing Handball outdoors and Photo 2: Frank Stoltenberg, Founder of the New Zealand Handball Federation 


Photo 3: Ben Birkenhake, Handball Coach explaining rules to students and Photo 4: Playing Handball indoors

 Article written by Frank Stoltenberg and published with permission


“Was scheren mich die Schafe “ – An Evening with Anke Richter at the Goethe Society Auckland on 11 August 2020

More than fifty people accepted the invitation of the Goethe Society Auckland to spend an evening at the premises of the University of Auckland to meet Anke Richter in person. The event was primarily held in German and included readings from Anke's book “Was scheren mich die Schafe” in German. 

Anke is author of the best-selling novel Was scheren mich die Schafe, a humorous account of her experiences as a German immigrant to New Zealand. Based in Lyttelton, she is also the southernmost member of the correspondent network Weltreporter and writes for Zeit, Mare, Stern and FAZ among others, but also for New Zealand media such as North & South, NZ Geographic, Stuff and The Spinoff. Her subjects have included the severe earthquake in Christchurch in 2011, investigative topics such as sexual abuse in sects and, most recently, the 2019 Christchurch mosque attack.

It was an evening where intercultural differences and misunderstandings were celebrated and once again the benefits and enrichments of cultural diversity became clear. We were delighted that this event could take place after its initial cancellation in March due to Covid-19 – and before the second lock-down for Auckland - as attendees clearly enjoyed this colourful evening.


Photo 1: Anke Richter, Author and Photo 2 (L-R): Astrid Sandbergy, Goethe Society Auckland and Anke Richter, Author

Behind the Scenes of a Bavarian Pretzel Class in Auckland

Being far away and still feeling so close to home

This is how I felt when attending this Bavarian-themed Friday evening event, where we created soft pretzels (German: “Brezeln”) from scratch. 
After mastering the technique of the special twist, we learned all about the secret ingredient: lye. Fortunately, there was enough time to discover the history and traditions of pretzels and of course plenty to eat! Different spreads and condiments were provided – and it turned out to be quite a social event.  

We shared all the delicious pretzels we made together during the class among each other – and were able to take some little leftovers home to share with our whãnau. (However, one has to say that we ended up eating quite a lot of our delicious Bretzeln during the class! So the whãnau might have to get into pretzel making themselves…)

The class started at 6:00pm and finished up by 8.30 pm. All ingredients, the use of kitchen equipment, and an apron were provided during the class. Small group sizes meant that all ten participants agreed it was worth coming to.

We now feel well prepared for the upcoming Oktoberfest season. 


Photo 1: (L-R) Alex Töniges, National German Adviser and Belinda Sydenham, Facilitator for FLS Centre for Languages, Photo 2: Belinda Sydenham, Photo 3: The finished product, delicious pretzels.

Article by Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser

Medien in der Krise – in Zeiten von Covid-19

Ein Szenario: Magazine wie Spiegel, Stern, Brigitte und Co. dürfen plötzlich nicht mehr publizieren – aufgrund des Corona Lockdowns. Tatsächlich zugetragen in Neuseeland, nachdem der deutsche Bauer – Verlag seine Zeitschriften hier in Neuseeland inmitten der Corona-Krise einfach eingestellt hat. Ein Aufschrei in Politik und Medien.

Mittlerweile sieht man langsam JournalistInnen mit neuen Ideen auf den Markt zurück kehren. Man kann beobachten, wie eigene Magazine gegründet oder bekannte Titel übernommen werden. Alexandra Falk, eine deutsche Journalisten wohnhaft in Christchurch - berichtet über ein Autorenpaar aus Berlin.

Media in Crisis during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Imagine, for example, that German magazines such as Der Spiegel, Stern, Brigitte and Co. suddenly no longer get published in Germany – due to the Corona Lockdown. This is what happened in New Zealand: after the German Bauer publishing house simply discontinued its magazines here in New Zealand in the midst of the Corona crisis. A huge shock to politics and the media.

However, journalists are slowly getting back on their feet again and are coming to market with new ideas. New magazines are founded or well-known titles are taken over. Alexandra Falk, a German journalist living in Christchurch - reports about an author-couple from Berlin that now lives in New Zealand.

Have a listen!

Synopsis of this article by Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser

Goethe Society Oral Exams in Auckland und Wellington 

Auch in diesem Jahr haben die Goethe Society Oral exams in Auckland und Wellington stattgefunden. 
Die Goethe Oral Exams sind mittlerweile eine Tradition und eines der Highlights im Schulkalenderjahr und finden einmal im Jahr in Auckland und Wellington statt. Organisiert werden die Goethe Oral Exams von der jeweiligen Goethe Society in Auckland und Welington.

Deutschlernende sämtlicher Jahrgangsstufen verschiedener Schulen aus Auckland versammelten sich am Samstag Morgen des 1. Augusts 2020  auf dem Epsom Campus der University of Auckland. 

Hier stellten sie sich den Fragen des Prüfungskommitees. Im Vorbereitungsraum liefen deutschsprachige Filme, es wurden Armbänder mit deutschen Lieblingswörtern erstellt und natürlich durften auch Harribo Gummibären und KinderSchokolade zur Nervenstärkung nicht fehlen. 

Eine Woche später. Gleiches Land, gleiche Zeit – andere Stadt. 

Am 8.8.2020 - fanden sich um die 100 sprachbegeisterte Deutschlernende verschiedener Schulen der Region Wellingtons zu den Goethe Oral Exams an der Victoria University ein. Die Lernenden stellten ihre reading and communication skills unter Beweis. Neben der reichlichen Bewirtung war es auch eine tolle Gelegenheit, sich auch mit Deutschlernenden anderer Schulen auszutauschen. Dies gilt für SchülerInnen wie auch für die zahlreichen Eltern und anwesenden Lehrenden. 

Die jeweiligen Siegerehrungen für die engagierten Deutschlernenden werden in den nächsten Wochen in einem feierlichen Rahmen abgehalten. Bis dahin bleibt es noch etwas spannend. 

Ein tolles Ereignis, das ein weiteres Mal die aktive und konstruktive Zusammenarbeit der Gemeinschaft aus Deutsch Lehrenden und Deutsch Lernenden in Neuseeland unter Beweis stellt. Einmal mehr ist zu sehen, dass das Interesse in Neuseeland an der deutschen Sprache und ihrer Kultur gross ist und eine aktive Community besteht. Ein großer Dank an die vielen freiwillegen HelferInnen der Goethe Society in Auckland und Wellington. 

Goethe Oral Exams in Auckland and Wellington

Year 9 to 13 students joined hundreds of others in their pursuit of mastering the German Language. The competition took place at the Epsom Campus of the University of Auckland on Saturday, 1 August and at Victoria University in Wellington on Saturday, 8 August 2020.

In this competition, German students from all over Auckland and Wellington were tested in their interactive German skills. Participants were examined by members of the Auckland Goethe Society committee and their counterpart the Wellington Goethe Society, many of whom are either native speakers of German or teach German at the University of Auckland/ Victoria University in Wellington - or both.

The Goethe Society exams have been a mainstay for over 50 years, and a number of students participate and represent schools in Auckland and Wellington each year. It is a great opportunity to meet and exchange experiences for learners of German, teachers and the German community.  On each occasion the panel was deeply impressed by the high-level performances they came to experience. 

It is great to see how flourishing the German community in New Zealand is and equally how ongoing the interest in the German culture and the German language is. 

We are looking forward to the prize giving ceremonies that will take place in *September.
*Subject to alert level restrictions in response to community transmittion of Covid19 in New Zealand.

Photo (L-R): Jessica Gillies, Victoria University of Wellington and Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser

Article by Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser