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German workshop with Year 9: Silke Lührmann

Title: Transcreating a German advert for the UK market
Objective: To develop creative thinking and cross-curricular problem-solving skills as well as an awareness of the diverse opportunities for using language skills in the business world
Age group: Year 9 (age 13–14)
Participants: Six different groups of 30–65 students
Duration: 1 hour per session

What we did

The “Supergeil” advert for the German supermarket chain Edeka was an international YouTube success last year and many of the kids already knew and loved it. I started each session by showing it to them and encouraging them to sing along from the lyrics sheets. (The resources I had prepared also included a full German>English glossary and a “translation brief”/task sheet.) We then talked about what the advert says about Edeka supermarkets, why it works and what we liked/didn’t like about it. I explained the basic principles of transcription (translating the message and impact of the advert rather than word-for-word, maybe even changing images if appropriate) and we discussed the difference between using voiceover (dubbing) or subtitles in an English-language version.

I then split the group into teams of five or six pupils and explained the scenario and task to them: Imagine that Edeka wants to follow the example of other German chains (Aldi, Lidl) by expanding into the UK market. They want to commission a version of this advert that would appeal to English-speaking audiences. How would you go about creating one? The teams had 15 to 20 minutes to work on their ideas, including a sample translation of a few lines, which they then had to “pitch” to me, their teachers and their classmates in a Dragons’ Den style audition, with prizes (Haribo sweets and Kinder chocolate) for the most creative solutions.

What we got out of it

Whatever the message of the “Supergeil” clip, this workshop was meant to convey a plain and simple message: foreign languages can be a lot of fun, don’t give up on them because learning grammar and vocab is such a drag! It also stimulated the pupils’ creativity and linguistic resourcefulness, gave them an opportunity to flex their literacy skills and created a “real life” context in which language skills in combination with an understanding of cultural context would be a valuable professional asset.

The pupils took to their task with relish, and I think that adding a competitive aspect helped to make them more eager and focused. In almost every group, for much of the session every single person in every team was engaged in lively discussions, which produced a plethora of ideas, some of them predictable, some extremely creative and original: translations that rhymed, inspired performances, interesting solutions to the problem of ensuring accessibility for the English-speaking target audience while preserving a flavour of the source language…