Who am I?

My name is Mr. Weiss and I am the German teaches. I have been a German teacher since 2005 and I previously taught and created the curriculum for the grade 4 German gifted program as well as German exploratory, German 1 and German 2 in 6-8 grades in the Allentown School District.

I am from Allentown Pa and graduated from Dieruff High School. While in high school I took part in the exchange student program and had two German students come live with me for a month and I also went twice to Germany as an exchange student for a month. I completed my undergraduate degree in German and English at Bloomsburg University. During my undergraduate studies I also took classes at Freidrich Schiller Universitaet and lived in Jena, Germany for nine months. I recieved my masters degree in secondary education from East Stroudsburg University and my ESOL and curriculum and instruction certificates from Lehigh University.

In my German classes I believe in having students read/speak/engage in German as much as possible. I feel that students need alot of opportunities to use what they have learned in various situations. I want the students to appreciate not only the German language but also the culture of German speaking peoples.

For my ideas and beliefs on teaching and learning a foreign language or also information for the parents or guardians of my students please visit my notes for parents and guardians page.

Language for Life: Lessons from my experiences when studying a world language
Adapted from Dave Campbells’ post on Middlebury Monterey Language Academy

The value of world language education is the topic of constant discussion at the international, federal, state, and local level. There are extensive world language education policies and standards in place in every state and school district around the world. While these are the systems and metrics often deemed necessary for the implementation and a measurement of success of world language education in districts and schools, the passion and personal reasons for learning language can be lost in these formalities.

For me, world language education is personal. It is, and was not, about building a resume, getting into college, or getting my next job (while knowing additional languages can certainly help in all of these areas).

Rather, world language education is something personal. It is about travel, connecting with people, and deepening your understanding of the world. These are 6 lessons and experiences that are a result of my relationship with world languages.

1) It’s NOT About Perfection - With most parts of our education we strive to be perfect in everything. We want to get 100% and to earn straight A’s. While there is great joy that comes from mastering a subject, in learning a language there is a lot to celebrate between the introductory level and fluency. Just because you are not getting those top grades – does not mean that you are not showing growth in learning how to use the language or communicate with others. Remember, you have spoken your native language for years – and you made a lot of mistakes, errors and used things incorrectly in the beginning and probably still do! Don’t focus on knowing every word in the language you are learning – I bet you don’t even know all of the words in your native language – and you have been speaking it your entire life! Embrace the fact that you’re constantly working on pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. You will not be perfect at the early levels. The first goal of learning a language is to communicate – this means not always saying what you want to say, but what you can! The second goal, in my opinion, is to communicate well.2) Opening DoorsThroughout my life, I have looked to open doors and keep as many doors open as possible. In high school, getting good grades, being focused, and staying out of trouble helped keep the doors to a variety of colleges open. In college, making similar choices can translate to access to graduate school or jobs. With language, not only are you opening up to great potential with your education or career, but you are opening a door to an ENTIRE population of the world with the most important key - communication. With the tool of an additional language, you can now communicate with people who would otherwise be strangers!

3) Deeper Understanding - Understanding a language creates an incredible context for learning about a person, a culture, a place, or a history. Language is the backbone of all of this and a familiarity with it lets you relate in a unique way to others in the world. Continuing to pursue a language will give you the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the world and your place in it. Becoming a global citizen in today’s world can help open doors in a future career and build relationships with people outside of you immediate area.

4) Studying Abroad and having an exchange student - One opportunity that I have had involving language and international travel was studying abroad in college. I got to meet students who were studying German from all over the world and we were able to communicate in the language that we were all learning. I also got to live with 3 German college students and had a firsthand look at what life was like for German students who were also my age. While I was in Germany in college I had the opportunity to travel all over – in Germany to Berlin, Munich, Weimar, Buchenwald, Gera, Jena, Frankfurt am Main, Saarbrücken, Erfurt and many other cities as well as Paris France and Amsterdam and I also stayed in a house on the beach in the town of Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands. While I was involved in my study abroad experience, I had the opportunity to spend the Easter holiday with my exchange student from high school and his family. When I was in high school the German class was involved with an exchange student program. This worked by having a group of German students come to the U.S. for three weeks and visit school and travel around and find out what typical American family life is like. On the alternate years, the American students visited and stayed with German families and did the same thing. I had the opportunity to host and stay with the same person and we developed a friendship that lasted years. I had taken advantage of this trip twice in high school and during these experiences I travelled all over Germany and visited France, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg.

5) Travelling for fun - Travelling is one thing that I really enjoy. I love to visit new places and add pins on my virtual map of places I have been to. I love trying new food and meeting new people, visiting historical places, and most importantly seeing things with my own eyes and not prerecorded and shown on television. However, no matter what – I always try to learn a little of the language of the country I am visiting. Whether if it is simple phrases – like can you help me, where is a bathroom, do you speak English or German – basic survival phrases that I can say in their native language – which always helps. I feel that it is irresponsible and close-minded to expect everyone to speak our language and for us to not even try to speak theirs!

6) Future Travel - Whether the future for me hold trips to China, Germany, Japan, or other parts of the World, I am always excited to get on a plane and visit someplace I have never seen before. Travel has given me so much in terms of perspective and understanding on the world and its’ inhabitants. There are so many things that are only available to experience when you are actually in the country – their architecture, their food, their culture, their language – through books, advertisements, signs, people, television - their customs, their festivals – every aspect of the country and its people has to offer. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had traveling and hope that the future holds a potential for more journeys.

My soccer players at Harrison Morton Middle School. The last game of the season and they decided to bring water balloons and chase me with the water and get me soaked! All caught on camera and then they made a video!