German Film of the Week: Das Boot

das-boot-movie-title-screenThis week’s film is Wolfgang Petersen’s classic WW II drama “Das Boot” (1982).

Providing a detailed look into the claustrophobic and terrifying world of a German submarine, this Oscar-nominated film paved Petersen’s way to Hollywood, where he went on to make blockbusters such as “The Perfect Storm” and “Troy”.

Aston students can access the film through our VLE, and through Box of Broadcasts: .

Watch the trailer here:

Viel Vergnügen! (And don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the film by posting comments on our facebook page or on Twitter!)

German Film of the Week: Fickende Fische (Do Fish Do It?)


“What does your paradise look like, then?” – “Dark. Quiet. Wet. And full of fish.”

166317This week’s film is Almut Getto’s bitter-sweet teenage romance “Do Fish Do It?”

Jan likes Shakespeare, water and fish. Nina likes roller-skates, cars and brightly dyed hair. Jan loves Nina. Nina loves Jan, but she doesn’t know that he has HIV.

Do Fish Do It? is a film about first love, the problems of growing up, the vital question if fish have sex, and the threat this love is exposed to.

Aston students can access the film through our VLE, and it is also available on the web .

You can watch the trailer here (sorry, no subtitles):

Viel Vergnügen! (And don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the film by posting comments on our facebook page or on Twitter!)

German Popliteratur star Thomas Meinecke at Aston University

Thomas Meinecke_plattenspielerIn Germany, Thomas Meinecke is known for many things: He has been the frontman for postpunk outfit Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (FSK) for several decades already and has advocated techno music during his regular radio slot for the Bayerischer Rundfunk. For the last decade, he has also made a name for himself as a distinguished novelist. To date, 7 novels have appeared with the prestigious Suhrkamp publishing house. The recent upsurge of Popliteratur in Germany would have been impossible without his literary contributions. Last but not least, he is also regarded as Germany’s leading male feminist. Beat that!

In late October, Meinecke will be visiting Aston to take part in a number of seminars in Sociology and German. The highlight of his visit though will be our very own edition of the famous Plattenspieler events that he regularly stages in Berlin and elsewhere: Inviting a guest, he plays records on stage and discusses music and contemporary pop culture with them. At Aston, our resident pop music expert Uwe Schütte will join him, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Follow the links to find out more about our visitor:

Author profile, Suhrkamp website

Interview on Meinecke’s last novel, ‘Lookalikes’, in Die Zeit

Interview with the author on YouTube


“German Film of the Week” Is Back

Watching foreign language feature films is an enjoyable way to practice your listening skills, learn more about other cultures and be entertained at the same time.

index“German Film of the Week” recommends a new film each week, which is available to watch online, usually by providing links to movies stored on Box of Broadcasts, an online recording service that many UK universities subscribe to.
So have your popcorn ready, enjoying German cinema doesn’t get much easier than this!

We kick off with “The Wave” (Die Welle), a film based on a real-life political experiment in a school. Left-wing teacher Rainer Wenger decides to teach his class about totalitarianism in a “learning-by-doing” kind of way, which soon spirals out of control…

To get a taste of the movie, watch the trailer:

The film itself can be found here.

Viel Vergnügen! (And don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the film by posting comments on our facebook page or on Twitter!)


Germany at the British Museum

The British Museum is hosting the exhibition Germany: memories of a nation from 16 October 2014 to 25 January 2015. This exciting new collection will use objects intrinsically linked to German history to examine the past 600 years in the context of the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.

Accompanying the exhibition is a 30-part BBC Radio 4 series written and presented by Neil MacGregor which started yesterday, Monday 29 September 2014. Series producer Paul Kobrak has written a blog post about his experience of putting together the series. Click here to read his post.

Poetry-Writing Competition in conjunction with ‘Germany – Memories of a Nation’ Exhibition

placardEach of the iconic objects in the exhibition “Germany – Memories of a Nation” opening at the British Museum this autumn tells a story. The competition organised by the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) in conjunction with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) invites secondary school students, undergraduates and members of the public to bring these stories to life by writing a ‘Dinggedicht’, or poem based on one of the exhibits.

Poems of not more than 250 words may be written in English or German, and will be judged on originality, insight and presentation. Prizes range from scholarships for a summer language course in Germany to a guided tour through the exhibition on the German artist Kurt Schwitters (Merzbarn Wall) at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 14 November 2014. The winning entries in each category will be celebrated in a reading at the British Museum on 12 December 2014.

More about the ‘Dinggedicht’

Competition Website (terms and conditions, enter the competition)

For further information, contact Cecile Reese at the DAAD.

Guest Blogger: German@Aston student Marcus Begley on the many things you get out of a Year Abroad

img_5871I remember looking around Aston University on an open day, hearing about the compulsory Third Year Abroad and being terrified at the idea of spending up to a whole year in a foreign country. Yet before I knew it, as I was squeezing piles of clothes into a suitcase far too small, this prospect had become very real.

The Year Abroad experience begins early in second year, almost a whole year before actually beginning it. The fact that there are several options of how to spend a Year Abroad means that you really can build a Year Abroad around you – I was given the option of studying at a university, working for a German company or teaching English in a German school. After a little research I opted for the latter – I wanted to ‘test the water’ in terms of teaching and see if it was something I would like to do as a career and coupled with, not only the pay, but also the hours worked, this seemed the best option for me. Next up was to select where I would like to be placed. I chose my preferred three ‘Bundesländer’ and I was fortunate to receive my first choice – Bavaria.

bayernFollowing completion of second year, things started to feel very real. With only a few months before I literally moved country for nine months, I was feeling apprehensive. Over the summer I began searching for accommodation whilst also keeping in close contact with the schools I was to work at. My Year Abroad began early in September 2013 and safe to say, I was very nervous as I left England knowing I wouldn’t be returning until Christmas. My immediate impressions of Germany were very positive. Despite being initially overwhelmed by the language, and my lack of ability in speaking it, the culture is very similar to England and the people were, in total contrast to the largely upheld stereotype, really quite friendly.

Within a few months I felt I was beginning to find my feet in this new country and I was enjoying my work in the school(s!). As a native English speaker, I proved to be pretty popular with teachers and students alike and this made me feel very welcome. I was very surprised at just how high the standard of English is in Germany, considering it’s learnt as a second language. Many young students had better second language skills than I did! One great thing about my role as a British Council English Teaching Assistant was the amount of free time I got. I was able to use this time well and spent almost every weekend visiting somewhere new, whether that be a German city or a neighbouring country. I began to appreciate just how many amazing places and attractions Germany has to offer, whilst also really enjoying constantly improving my knowledge of German culture, history and lifestyle. Christmas time brought with it the opportunity to sample ‘real’ German Christmas markets for the first time, and this was just one particular highlight for me.

As I returned to Germany following the Christmas break, I felt easier knowing where I was going and what to expect. The second half of my Year Abroad just flew by, but once again, I feel I really made the most of it. Although I spoke a lot of English during my Year Abroad (which could be perhaps considered a disadvantage of the role of a Teaching Assistant), in the final few months before coming home, I really began to notice an improvement in my German language. In any European country, because of the high standard of English, for native English speakers it becomes fairly easy to get by without speaking a word of that countrys’ language. I really had to make an effort to ensure I did indeed speak German at every available opportunity but also found that simple things like reading newspapers and listening to radio, activities which require a little more effort back home in England, were good ways of practising.

At the end of the Year Abroad, without sounding too clichéd, I really did feel I was returning to the UK, a different person. A more mature, grown up, wiser person. Whilst the Year Abroad isn’t always easy, isn’t always fun (in fact at times it can be very lonely and challenging), it offers something that can’t be matched. From my Year Abroad, I’ve learnt that there is a lot more to teaching than meets the eye and it’s unlikely that I will be becoming a teacher anytime soon, but I’ve also learnt so much about people and cultures – And perhaps most reassuringly, my love for Germany has grown.

11.07.13-mjs_ft_study-abroad-3_23945506_586_366_80_s_c1The Third Year Abroad is something that Aston prides itself upon, especially in the language department. Yet it is only after doing a Year Abroad, having these wonderful experiences, developing and learning the way I have done, that I understand why the Year Abroad receives so much focus and emphasis. I’ve learnt that it is a vital part of a degree, and not just for language students. Obviously the development of language skills is a massive part of the Year Abroad for a language student and it is common knowledge that the best way to learn a language is to spend time in a country that speaks it as you are constantly surrounded by it and immersed in the culture of the language. But the independence, the confidence, the personal development and new skills that one learns through spending time abroad cannot be underestimated. Not only that, but the Year Abroad offers the chance to appreciate not only another culture, but equally, your own culture, in a way that is impossible without spending time surrounded by another.