Friday, February 10, 2012

Märchenhaft: Learning German With Grimm (A Household Tales 200th Anniversary Challenge)

 I love this idea for many reasons and, more importantly, I think the Grimm Brothers would more than have approved. It's a wonderful idea for the 200th anniversary of Grimm's Household Tales.


From Rapunzel to Hänsel und Gretel to Aschenputtel(Cinderella), the fairy tales collected by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and first published in December 1812 in their Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales)  are known and loved throughout the world. 
During 2012-13, the 200th anniversary of this renowned compendium of stories is being celebrated with a large variety of cultural events, including open-air festivals, exhibitions, and theater performances, all along the German Fairy Tale Road (Deutsche Märchenstraße)--from Hanau, the brothers’ birthplace, in the south, to Bremen, home of the Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Bremen Town Musicians), in the north. 
The tales have remained popular through the centuries due to their universal themes and memorable characters, as well as their ability to instill values in the young. But the Grimm fairy tales—the 86 included in the 1812 volume, plus the dozens more added in subsequent publications—are also ideally suited as texts for learning the challenging, yet endlessly intriguing, German language. 

With the Grimm anniversary year in mind, the US representative of the German Agency for Schools Abroad, Gert Wilhelm, supported by funding from the German government through the “Netzwerk Deutsch USA” (Network for German language promotion in the US), organized a nationwide theater competition, utilizing the popular YouTube platform.
Starting in March 2011, German instructors at schools and universities across the US were encouraged to submit proposals for theater productions of German fairy tales, performed by young German-learners, in German. Twenty of the proposals were selected, and instructors were asked to submit simple, unedited DVDs of their students' performances by the end of the year.
...With logistical support from the Goethe-Institut in Chicago, a special “Märchenhaft” (literally: “fairy tale-like”) channel was created on YouTube, allowing the students and teachers—and the wider world—to compare productions of Schneewittchen (Snow White), Die Sterntaler (The Star Money), Die goldene Gans (The Golden Goose), and many others. 

Once all videos had been submitted, a jury of five German education experts met to select the best productions. The winners were selected for the high standards, both theatrical and linguistic, of their submissions.  
...The creativity and hard work that went into this production, and all of the “Märchenhaft” productions, would surely have pleased the Brothers Grimm. But not only that: as founding fathers of German philology and authors of Das Deutsche Wörterbuch (The German Dictionary)—the German equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary—one imagines they would also have been delighted to see the enthusiasm exhibited for the German language so far away from home.

You can read the whole article with details about the Märchenhaft fairy tale challenge along with the winning schools and productions HERE.

The Märchenhaft (as mentioned above, literally: "fairy tale-like") YouTube Channel with the competition submissions can be found HERE.

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