Germans master soap language

10th September 1999 at 01:00
GERMAN teenagers will be brushing up their English by tuning in to soap operas such as Coronation Street or Brookside.

State education authorities are sending teachers free "Daily Soaps" kits. Similar Prime Time Soaps kits are available from TV companies for a fee. These contain extracts from German, British and Australian dramas, including EastEnders and Neighbours.

Language experts believe it can be a more realistic way of teaching living language than textbooks. The diverse accents of Coronation Street or EastEnders are part of the course. "They train the ear," says Ulrike Meinhof, professor of cultural studies in the department of modern languages at Bradford University. "It is not realistic to teach English as if everyone speaks with a BBC accent."

She says the advantage of soaps is that the dialogue is simple, and characters spend a lot of time telling everyone what they are thinking or doing. The topics may be complex social scandals but they are close to daily life, and the constant recapping by nosy neighbours makes it easier for students to get into the story lines and predict the language.

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