In the Margins: German Language Varieties in L2 German Textbooks



multimodal discourse analysis, textbooks, language ideology, language learning, German, pluricentricity, language variation


This study investigates how German as a second language (L2) textbooks construct the German language through images, layout, written and spoken language. Multimodal discourse analysis (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006) and critical discourse analysis (van Dijk, 1993) serve to uncover underlying ideologies and power relations in two L2 German textbook series: studio d and DaF kompakt neu.

Findings show the hidden curriculum reflecting patterns of marginalization and German hegemony: Although textbooks advertise themselves as introductions to life in German-speaking countries, Germany is featured as the default setting, whereas other German-speaking countries are often confined to chapters with special spotlight on them. The “German language” is understood as German Standard German, the existence of other German national standards downplayed, and languages other than German erased. Such patterns of German hegemony are more pronounced in the older textbook series, but not absent in the newer. Considering the clear efforts to broaden the definition of German according to recommendations to teach German as a pluricentric language, underlying ideologies in L2 German teaching need to be examined and discussed before they can be overcome. This paper will be of interest to scholars in applied linguistics as well as textbook authors and instructors.

Author Biography

Richard Feddersen, University of Alberta

RICHARD FEDDERSEN is a sociolinguist and German instructor. He holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Alberta where he also taught German. He was a Lecturer for German as a foreign language at the German Jordanian University in Jordan and he is currently a member of academic staff at the Language Centre of the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, Germany. The question “who and what is German?” is at the heart of his research agenda, and motivated by his 10+ years of experience teaching German in Jordan, Canada, and Germany.