The Politics and Ideologies of Pluricentric German in L2 Teaching


  • Julia Ruck Webster Vienna Private University


L2 German, language variation, language ideologies, language politics


Despite a history of rigorous linguistic research on the regional variation of German as well as professional initiatives to promote German, Austrian, and Swiss Standard German as equal varieties, there is still a lack of awareness and systematic incorporation of regional varieties in L2 German teaching. This essay follows two goals: First, it reviews the development of the pluricentric approach in the discourse on L2 German teaching as well as the political and ideological preconditions that form the backdrop of this discussion. Particular emphasis will be given to institutional tri-national collaborations and the standard language ideology. Second, by drawing on sociolinguistic insights on the use and speaker attitudes of (non-)standard varieties, this contribution argues that the pluricentric focus on national standard varieties in L2 German teaching falls short in capturing the complex socioculturally situated practices of language use in both (often dialectally-oriented) everyday and (often standard-oriented) formal and official domains of language use. I argue that the pluricentric approach forms an important step in overcoming the monocentric bias of one correct Standard German; however, for an approach to L2 German teaching that aims at representing linguistic and cultural diversity, it is necessary to incorporate both standard and non-standard varieties into L2 German teaching.

Author Biography

Julia Ruck, Webster Vienna Private University

Julia Ruck is Assistant Professor of Second Language Studies in the Center for Liberal Arts at Webster Vienna Private University, Austria, where she coordinates the Language Center as well as the German language program. Her research interests include discursive, ecological, and multimodal approaches to L2 teaching and learning, as well as language politics, linguistic variation, and cultural theories in L2 German teaching. Her two current research projects explore connections between individual learner differences and learners’ beliefs and perceptions on learning (about) language and culture through audiovisual texts as well as theoretical investigations of linguistic variation, language ideologies, and discursive cultural theories in L2 German teaching.