Against All Standards

On Regional Variation in the German Language Classroom


  • Julia Ruck University of Wisconsin-Madison


German language teaching, translingual competence, linguistic variation, dialects, Austria


Foreign-language learners often find themselves in a so-called ‘practice shock’ as they travel abroad because they have difficulties understanding native-speakers who speak differently from the language they were exposed to in their classrooms. In the case of German, this can ensue due to a strict focus on standard German and an exclusion of regional varieties that are commonly used in everyday communication. This article problematizes this issue by (a) demonstrating that the inclusion of regional varieties is necessary to reach several goals of foreign-language learning, (b) discussing relevant recent sociolinguistic research on regional variation, and (c) providing teaching activities that support learners in developing a critical awareness of the system and discursive functions of German regional variation. This last objective is contextualized through the Austrian TV series Braunschlag (2012).