Working with parallel texts

Students read books and watch films from the cultures involved in the project (parallel texts), which deal with similar topics, such as growing up, ethnicity or conflicts between the generations. Parallel texts deal with the same topic, but are in different languages. The parallel reading/viewing of texts facilitates the exchange of views and opinions of the international student teams.

Institution reporting the task:

Language of task instructions:


Target Group:

Foreign languages



References and acknowledgements:



Comparison & analysis

Estimated Duration:

3 sessions


Discussing parallel texts


comparing texts
comparing films
collaborative reading/viewing
cultural comparison



Language Configurations:


Language(s) that the task can be used in:


Dominant language production:

Speaking/listening synchronous

Target Competences:

Language competence
Intercultural skills

Specific pedagogical objectives:

Development of students interest in cultural similarities and differences

Suggested Communication Tools:

Real time conferencing

Suggested Resources:

Information about the texts you can find here:

American Beauty:

Nach Fünf im Urwald:

Peter Härtling. Ben Liebt Anna. 1997: (German)

Jacqueline Woodson. If you come softly. 1998:


During the next two weeks, we will read a German and an American young adult novel:

Peter Härtling (1997). Ben liebt Anna. 2nd ed. Basel: Beltz Verlag.

Jacqueline Woodson (1998). If you come softly. New York: Penguin.

We will also watch two films, a German and an American one.

Nach fünf im Urwald. Reg. Hans-Christian Schmid. Darst. Franka Potente, Axel Milberg, Dagmar Manzel, Sibylle Canonica, und Johann von Bülow. Senator Film, 1995.

American Beauty. Written by: Alan Ball. Director: Sam Mendes. Actors: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Mena Suvari. DreamWorks, 1999.

Afterwards we will discuss the novels and the films in two chat sessions with our partners. In this discussion we would like you to
come up with a list of aspects which you think represent a) your own culture
and b) that of the other culture in the respective films.

For the learners of German in the U.S. the task read in part:

Es gibt viele kulturelle Unterschiede zwischen den USA und Deutschland in Ben liebt Anna, wie z.B. Ben hat Pfingstferien.

Diskutieren Sie mit Ihrem Email Partner diese kulturellen Unterschiede im Detail indem Sie schreiben, an welcher Stelle im Buch der Unterschied vorkommt.
Erklären Sie die Situation in den USA in Bezug auf diesen Unterschied und fragen Sie, wie die Situation in Deutschland ist.

Learner Texts:


Document related to the task:


Criteria for Completion:

Having read and watched the text or film, students should have engaged in a group discussion of the cultural meaning of the texts, negotiating similarities and differences as well as possible cultural stereotypes.

Comments and suggestions:

The discussion took place via voice chat on a First Class learning platform. Any text or voice chat can be used for this task.

You might need more sessions depending on whether you watch the films in class or have students watch them at home.


Julie Belz (Indiana University), Andreas Müller-Hartmann (University of Education, Heidelberg)