Information for College Educators

SPARK for German, a joint project of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Goethe-Institut, provides professional development for future German instructors and enables students across the United States to start learning German at an early age. SPARK offers a playful approach to German lessons in after school programs—providing early access to language instruction and creating opportunities for students to learn German into advanced levels. SPARK’s long-term goal is to increase demand and build capacity to integrate German into the regular curriculum in immersion, elementary, middle, and high school programs.

Background and Rationale for SPARK

Recent data indicates a decline in the number of students learning German in the United States. Further, there is an increasing shortage of teachers in all disciplines. SPARK addresses both of these challenges through a structured program that connects colleges and universities with K-12 schools. College students with German proficiency will be trained to teach introductory German lessons in school and community after school programs.

How does SPARK work?

Colleges and universities work with the AATG and the Goethe-Institut to provide training for German majors and future German teachers to become SPARK instructors. After successfully completing their initial training, SPARK instructors will teach German to young learners in after school programs. Where possible, SPARK instructors will be granted appropriate credits by their home institutions.

What does SPARK offer?

  1. Ready-to-use, flexible, and adaptable teaching units and materials designed for use with elementary and middle school students
  2. Professional development opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a German teaching career
  3.  Access to the Goethe-Institut’s Deutsch Lehren Lernen online courses where aspiring teachers use their advanced German language skills to learn strategies for engaging young learners in German language lessons
  4. Certificates of completion for successful instructors and participants
  5. Comprehensive program support from professional coordinators


Who benefits?

  1. Young learners in SPARK after school programs get to know Germany and cultures of the German-speaking world.
  2. Families access quality after school programming that teaches students a new language and fosters intercultural competence.
  3. College students studying German strengthen their own German language proficiency and gain valuable work experience while sharing what they have learned.
  4. Students interested in exploring a teaching career improve their instructional skills and learn how to facilitate interactive lessons in the target language.
  5. Participating college and university faculty have access to high quality materials and professional development opportunities and join the national SPARK network of German instructors, curriculum developers, and trainers
  6. Local programs benefit from quality instruction and more highly qualified teachers in the future. German instruction in after school programs connects communities to global cultures.

Role of College Faculty

  1. Identify participating college students
  2. Train, supervise, and mentor participating college students
  3. Identify potential schools and collaborating organizations
  4. Serve as a point of contact for students, schools, regional coordinators, and the Goethe-Institut and AATG


Requirements for Participating Colleges and Universities

  1. Sign a memorandum of understanding with the Goethe-Institut agreeing to participate in the 2020/21 academic year
  2. Identify a faculty member to implement SPARK on campus and serve as the contact person
  3. Integrate SPARK into the curricular structure of the German program/department and/or teacher education program.
  4. Identify college students to train as instructors for German lessons in after school programs
  5. Identify local elementary schools, middle schools, and other organizations that could introduce German into their existing after school offerings


Who supports SPARK for German?

The Goethe-Institut and the AATG are grateful that the SPARK program has been met with enthusiastic interest from educational institutions at all levels. It is thanks to the generous support of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office that we are able use this program to spark interest in German in communities across the United States.

Want to find out more?


German is for ALL

Contact Us

Please complete this application if you are interested in connecting with a SPARK Lab in your area:

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For inquiries, please contact us at

Please stay tuned for more information as we continue to roll out the program to additional regions in the US.