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Language-Sensitive Geography Education


For the understanding of geographical content, a wide range of linguistic skills are necessary: Geographical questions must be formulated, geomedia must be decoded in order to deconstruct social discourses, technical language should be used, media should be judged reflexively and critically and geographical argumentations should be written. The necessary linguistic competences can be acquired in a language-sensitive geography class, which takes into account the subject-specific linguistic requirements for understanding and answering geographical questions in class, based on the pupils' preconditions.


Budke, Alexandra und Kuckuck, Miriam (Hrsg.) (2017): Sprache im Geographieunterricht. Bilinguale und sprachsensible Materialien und Methoden. Waxmann: Münster.

Budke, Alexandra, Kuckuck, Miriam und Morawski, Michael (2017): Sprachbewusste Kartenarbeit? Beobachtungen zum Karteneinsatz im Geographieunterricht. In: GW-Unterricht. H. 148 (4/2017). S. 5-15.

Budke, Alexandra und Weiss, Günther (2014): Sprachsensibler Geographieunterricht. In: Michalak, Magdalena (Hrsg.): Sprache als Lernmedium im Fachunterricht. Theorien und Modelle für das sprachbewusste Lehren und Lernen. Baltmannsweiler. S. 113-133.



MASDIGU ─ Using digital media for promoting argumentation skills in language sensitive geography education: Development of an adventure game about a conflict of land use in Cologne

Project participants: Kimberley Hindmarsh, Alexandra Budke

Cooperation partner: Alexandra Zepter, Diana Gebele (UzK, Deutschdidaktik), André Czauderna and Emmanuel Guardiola (FH Köln, Game Lap)

Funding: Rhein-Energiestiftung

Project period: March 2022 until February 2024

Currently we observe a strong increase in demand of digital media in the classroom. Exactly how to use these digital media in a langauage sensitive geography lessons remains unclear. The same is true for using them to develop language knowledge and digital media competencies in young learners. In a best practice, these topics need to be discussed interdisciplinarily between the research fields of geography and German language education, media pedagogy and game development. Our research project MASDIGU adds to this discourse by focusing on the potential of digital games for building compentencies in argumentation using educational materials in geography classes.

Currently studies show that digital games are suitable for conveying knowledge and at the time motivate pupils to learn (see e.g. Squire 2011). Furthermore, studies could also demonstrate that digital games can promote practices of literacy. However, up to date there is no research about how they can contribute to promoting artguamentation skills using learning material. In our research project MASDIGU we intend to close this gap and answer the question how an adventure game can be designed to enhance the compentencies to argue using mlearning material in young learners of an eigth grade geography class. We are also interested in how the game motivates divers learners (differing in perfromrmance levels, special needs, and language skills) and if it is easy to understand and use.



Schreiben im Geographieunterricht

Projektbeteiligte: Saskia Steingrübl und Alexandra Budke

Zeitraum: Oktober 2020 bis Oktober 2023

In diesem Projekt werden die Einstellungen und Diagnosefähigkeiten von Lehrkräften bezüglich des argumentativen Schreibens im Geographieunterricht untersucht. Im Besonderen werden die Relevanz und die didaktischen Funktionen, welche die Lehrkräfte dem Schreiben im Geographieunterricht zuschreiben durch Interviews erhoben. Zudem liegt der Fokus auf den Diagnosefähigkeiten von Lehrkräften bei der Korrektur von Texten. Auf der Grundlage der Ergebnisse werden Unterstützungsmöglichkeiten für Lehrkräfte zur Korrektur von Schüler*innentexten entwickelt.


Digitale DiGeo-Lerneinheit (OER): Sprachliche Förderung beim argumentativen Schreiben (Link hier)



Multilingualism in geography education


Project participants: Nikolaus Repplinger, Alexandra Budke

The research project deals with the question of whether and how pupils use multilingual material and how successful multilingual work takes place. For this purpose, a virtual multilingual excursion was created, which offers the possibility to deal with conflicts of use on the Rhine in nine different languages. Insert link ---For the research of user behaviour, the work of pupils with the virtual Rhine excursion is recorded and subsequently evaluated by means of a screen recording tool. Furthermore, the strategies used by students working with several languages will be analysed.


Repplinger, N. & Budke, A. (2018): Is multilingual life practice of pupils a potential focus for geography lessons? European Journal of Geography, 9 (3), 165-180.


Abgeschlossene Projekte



SpiGU ─ Language-sensitive teaching and learning in inclusive geography classes: support formats for material-based argumentative writing


Project participants: Kimberley Hindmarsh, Sarah Schwerdtfeger, Alexandra Budke

Coopertation partners: Alexandra Zepter, Diana Gebele (UzK, German Didactics)

Funding: Innovation pool special education of the UzK (DFG)

Period: Start 2019

This project explores how students in an inclusive lower secondary school can acquire the ability to use material in geography lessons in a way that enables them to understand the content and form their own opinions. Pupils should learn how to express their own opinions in a coherent argumentation linguistically (in writing). In the course of the SpiGU project, support formats are to be developed on the basis of the results of the survey, which promote argumentative writing and help the pupils to work through the teaching material more easily.


Gebele, Diana, Zepter, Alexandra Lavinia, Budke, Alexandra und Königs, Pia (2020): Integration von inklusionsorientierten Inhalten in die interdisziplinäre fachdidaktische Ausbildung am Beispiel des Lehr- und Forschungsprojektes SpiGU ─ Sprachsensibel Lehren und Lernen im inklusiven Geographieunterricht: Unterstützungsformate beim materialgestützten argumentierenden Schreiben. In: k:ON – Kölner Online Journal für Lehrer*innenbildung 2, 2/2020, S. 172-189. [link]

Budke, Alexandra, Gebele, Diana, Königs, Pia, Schwerdtfeger, Sarah und Zepter, Alexandra (2020): Student texts produced in the context of material-based argumentative writing: Interdisciplinary research-related conception of an evaluation tool. In: RISTAL, 3, p. 108-125. [link]

Schwerdtfeger, Sarah und Budke, Alexandra (2021): Reference to Materials in Written Argumentations of Students in Geography Lessons. In: Journal of Curriculum and Teaching. Vol. 10, No 3, S. 20-35. [link]


Learning German with Geography

Teachers in integrative regular and international preparatory classes face immense linguistic and content-related challenges. Firstly, German language skills are to be fostered and secondly, geographical learning of the lessons has to take place. Geography lessons involve visual analysis, action-oriented learning and discontinuous texts such as maps, which makes it particularly suitable for integrating language and technical education. In the project "Learning German with Geography" coordinated by Alexandra Budke, Frank Schäbitz and Michael Morawski, materials are developed and evaluated for multilingual geography lessons.

For understanding geographical concepts is a wide range of language skills required: Geographical questions must be formulated, geomedia must be decoded for deconstructing social discourses, technical language should be used, media should be reflexively and critically judged and geographical arguments should be drafted. The required language skills can be acquired in language-sensitive geography lessons, which takes into account the subject-specific language requirements for understanding and answering geographical issues in lessons depending on the pupils learning conditions.


The following projects are funded within the framework of Excellence Initiative:

"Linguistic Awareness in Teacher Education Based on Geographical Media."

In this research project Alexandra Budke, Miriam Kuckuck and Magdalena Michalak (Teaching German as Foreign or Second Language) want to uncover the subject-specific language skills of teacher training students and indicate ways for professionalism in teacher training. Only when the prospective teachers themselves have these language skills they can use these productively in the classroom.

Students should be enabled to recognize and deconstruct linguistic constructions and to decipher their symbolic meaning. The practice and use of technical, symbolic and visual language in geomedia has the top priority.

To the website of the UoC-Forum


"Learning from and with language - promotion strategies for language-aware geography lessons through an analysis of bilingual geography lessons".

In order to meet the (communicative) challenges in geography lessons, the research project "Learning from and with language" wants to look for existing, suitable strategies for language promotion in bilingual geography lessons and transfer these to regular geography lessons. Up to now, concepts for language development from bilingual geography lessons have not yet been related to the promotion of pupils' educational language competence in regular subject lessons. The aim of this project is therefore to find out to what extent there is already an educational language, geographical awareness of teachers and already existing competences for (subject) language promotion in bilingual geography teaching (diagnosis). We also want to find out to what extent we could use this to promote educational language in regular lessons in a sustainable and integrated way. On this basis, strategies for teaching implementation are to be developed. These should mainly help to sustainably improve communication skills in the educational language for children with language support needs and/or immigrant backgrounds.

The project is executed by Michael Morawski as a part of his doctoral research.


Learning from and with language - support strategies for language-sensitive geography lessons


Project participants: Michael Morawski, Alexandra Budke

Period: completed 2019

The increased linguistic heterogeneity of students in geography lessons influences and changes teaching and teacher training. In this context, language awareness in geography didactics means a stronger focus on the language requirements in geography lessons and on ways to support students in carrying them out. (...) Empirical work can also be used for the conceptual preparation of language support strategies in bilingual teaching.

Publications and links:

Morawski, Michael (2019). Von und mit Sprache lernen - Identifikation von Sprachbewusstsein und Entwicklung von Förderstrategien für den sprachsensiblen Geographieunterricht durch eine Analyse des bilingualen Geographieunterrichts. Dissertation, Universität zu Köln.

Morawski, Michael und Budke, Alexandra (2019): „Das müsstest du halt erst noch belegen" - Untersuchung der Interaktionsprozesse von Schüler*innen bei Peer-Feedback zu Argumentationstexten im sprachbewussten Geographieunterricht. In: Caruso, C., Hofmann, J., Rohde, A., Schick, K. (Hg.), Sprache im Unterricht: Ansätze, Konzepte, Methoden. Trier, S. 177-186.

Morawski, Michael und Budke, Alexandra (2018): Förderung von Argumentationskompetenzen durch das “Peer-Review-Verfahren”? – In: Massud, Abdel-Hafiez (Hrsg.): Argumentieren im Sprachunterricht. Beiträge zur Fremdsprachenvermittlung. Sonderheft 26. Landau. S. 75-101

Morawski, Michael und Budke, Alexandra (2017): Sprachförderkonzepte in bilingualen Geographieschulbüchern. In: GW-Unterricht. H. 148 (4/2017). S. 28-42.

Morawski, Michael und Budke, Alexandra (2017): Learning With and By Language: Bilingual Teaching Strategies for the Monolingual Language-Aware Geography Classroom. The Geography Teacher. Volume 14, Issue 2. S. 48-67.

Morawski, Michael und Budke, Alexandra (2017): Language Awareness in Geography Education – An Analysis of the Potential of Bilingual Geography Education for Teaching Geography to Language Learners. European Journal of Geography: European Journal of Geography. Volume 7, Nr. 5. S. 61-85.