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A decade full of qualifications

From “Audiovisual Academic Communication” via “Graphic Recording” and “Strategies against Procrastination” through to “Digital Society” – the Key Skills Centre (ZfS) offers more than 300 courses. This year it is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Students in the ZfS seminar
© Thomas Teucke

Students in the ZfS seminar "Communication and Empathy" in action.

“Students leave us not only ready to start out their careers, but also as formative members of our society,” says Wibke Matthes. “This is why, in addition to specialist knowledge and language skills, it makes sense for them to acquire interdisciplinary key skills during their studies that are beneficial to them in their studies and in their professions, as well as for the future.”

Matthes is a managing member of academic staff at the Key Skills Centre (ZfS) and has assisted and helped to shape the establishment since its foundation. The ZfS was created from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities’ former Centre for Foreign Language Training, IT and Media Resources (ZFIM). The centre was redesigned and expanded with the introduction of the Bachelor's and Master’s degree system. The courses are mainly geared towards students of the faculty’s double-subject Bachelor's degree programmes. But students from other faculties can also benefit from the courses on offer from the outset and have been glad to do this.

Last year the centre finally became a joint faculty facility. Apart from the Faculty of Law, which has specific programmes because of educational training rules, all of Kiel University's faculties are involved.

“The last ten years have certainly never been boring,” says Matthes. “We have continuously expanded our range of courses on offer.” To begin with, seminars in the fields of communication, self-competence and business basics were also offered alongside the IT and language courses. Later on, courses were expanded to include conflict management, team development and intercultural skills, among others.

“Competence and Personality” is currently the most popular course, according to Matthes. “This deals with the questions of what can I actually do, why is it as though my personality is set in stone, what is good for me, and what can I still achieve?” Personality development and adopting problem solving strategies are important to the students, she says.

“We follow current social events and develop new programmes for the resulting needs,” explains Matthes. The most recent additions are the topics of sustainability, diversity and intersectionality. Gender themes, religious issues or questions of discrimination are of great interest to the students. For this reason, a focus area was developed for this, i.e. a foundation seminar as well as advanced courses and accompanying reflection developed together with PerLe – project for successful teaching and learning. “And what is great about this,” says Matthes enthusiastically, “is that we can make the whole of Kiel University with its wealth of subjects available to students of all disciplines.”

Alongside interdisciplinary key skills there are also vocational courses, for example, for the professional fields of journalism and culture management. The aim of these courses is to provide students with concrete insight into the working world. “This is why, for these courses, we call in people from the relevant professions to report on their daily working life,” says Matthes. “The students are always very keen on the workshops.”

Open specialist lectures form another mainstay of this. If teachers offer their seminars to students from all disciplines, these students can get a taste of other areas through a type of general study. For example, the lecture on Protestant Religious Studies is often attended by students of Islamic Studies and this enriches discussion and contributes to a specialist exchange between students.

“The area we work in is very changeable,” says Matthes. “Fortunately we can have a really complementary impact here and quickly respond to current requirements. The students appreciate this and come back for more.” The ZfS wants to clarify the direction to be taken by its courses in the future with students and interested parties at the 1st Kieler Kompetenzdock (Kiel competence dock) on 23 November 2019.

Author: Marina Kosmalla

Further information

New for the winter semester: complementary subject: German as a Second and Foreign Language

Students on the Master’s in German Teacher Training will be able to specialise in the field of German as a Second and Foreign Language at the Institute of German Studies from this winter semester onwards. This complementary subject replaces both the certificate in German as a Foreign Language (Deutsch als Fremdsprache - DaF), previously offered at the Institute of German Studies, as well as the certificate in German as a Second Language (Deutsch als Zweitsprache - DaZ), previously offered at the Centre for Teacher (ZfL), which was incorporated into the certification programme SprachFoLL (Sprachliche Bildung – Forschendes Lernen. Qualifizierung von Lehramtsstudierenden für die erfolgreiche Integration von geflüchteten Kindern und Jugendlichen) (language education - learning through research. Training student teachers in the successful integration of refugee children and young people) in 2017. The aim of this project was to make student teachers aware of the challenges faced by children and young people who have only lived in Germany for a short time. This was done through lectures on theory as well as practical placements in which the students spent two semesters supporting teachers in lessons in order to provide pupils with limited German language skills with intensive support. “We are grateful that, with the help of the Stifterverband, we have been able to carry out the SprachFoLL project and make students aware of this important subject. We are delighted that the subject is now securely established at Kiel University and no longer dependent on raised funds,” explains Inger Petersen, assistant professor of German as a Second Language and subject-integrated language learning at the Institute of German Studies. In the future, the ZfL is planning to offer a certificate for student teachers of all disciplines who are looking to gain experience and skills in the field of cultural diversity.

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