The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Using Creative Web-conferencing Software for Language Teaching with (Possibly Traumatised) Ukrainian Secondary Students. Experience from the Past Two Years

Katrin Neuhaus, Evangelische Schule Köpenick, Berlin; Fernuniversität zu Hagen (Germany)


At a secondary school in south-east Berlin, there are only nine Ukrainian pupils aged 13-16. From the start they went to different regular classes and attended together German lessons for six hours on Saturdays at the same school, which are taught by a school teacher without experience in trauma care. After six months several lessons had to be given online. After Corona, there was great skepticism about online teaching, which was supposed to be an emergency solution at best. I, the teacher, used a platform that I had already worked with at university, GatherTown. It is a web-conferencing software like Zoom, but with the added component of seeing the virtual “house” you and others are occupying, and with the ability to move around and interact with other participants based on your locations in the room. It can be used free of charge for up to ten participants. Surprisingly, the results in all areas - listening, reading, writing, grammar, even speaking - were rather better than in the local lessons. The reasons for this could lie in the children's history of displacement. The students don't need to be themselves on this platform. They equip avatars, they design their own desks, act as someone else. In an everyday life in which they have little to shape and determine due to a lack of housing, money and prospects, they are fully absorbed in this environment and are characterized by extraordinary prudence and diligence. In my presentation I will show how this can have a positive influence on the learning of a foreign language for potentially traumatized children.

Keywords: Avatar, active, change, war, trauma


[1] Heike Wiese, Ulrike Freywald & Katrin Neuhaus.”Tackling deficit-oriented views on multilingualism: Some transfer examples from Germany.” University public engagement with urban multilingualism, The University of Manchester, 20.-22.2. 2019. Conference Paper.
[2] Huber, Stephan Gerhard, Mareen Lüke, and Paula Sophie Günther. “Frieden Und Krieg in Unterricht Und Schule: Eine Explorative Studie Zu Den Erfahrungen Und BedüRfnissen Geflohener Lehrpersonen Und SchüLerinnen Aus Der Ukraine.” schuleverantworten 3.3 (2023): schuleverantworten, 2023-09, Vol.3 (3).

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