The American Association of Teachers of German is recognizing Katharina Barbe, an associate professor of German and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Northern Illinois University, for her many contributions.
In late November, Barbe was presented with the AATG/Goethe-Institut Certificate of Merit during the AATG annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The certificate is awarded each year to a select group of educators for outstanding achievement in furthering the teaching of German in U.S. schools at all levels.
Former students and colleagues at U.S. universities nominated Barbe for the honor. They cited the NIU professor’s expertise and enthusiasm, as well as her extraordinary dedication to professional development and student career success through mentoring and the creation of learning opportunities.
“Frau Barbe has been a prominent and influential member of the German educator community for over 20 years,” said nominator Karen Calvert, one of Barbe’s former students. Calvert now teaches German at Neuqua Valley High School and serves as president of the Northern Illinois AATG chapter.
Barbe herself has previously served as Northern Illinois AATG program chair, vice president and president. She has published extensively, reviews articles for scholarly journals and has presented on a wide variety of topics at national and international conferences.
A member of the Goethe-Institut Trainer Network who is involved in the writing of the National German Exam, she recently co-authored a book on preparing students for the new AP German exam, “Deutsch als Fremdsprache – Prüfungstraining – AP® German Language and Culture” (Cornelsen, 2013).
“I can personally attest to the fact that she is an outstanding teacher,” Calvert said in her nomination letter. “She always made herself available to me and her other students. She helped me through the process of becoming a German major and selecting courses, she helped me find a study abroad program to meet my needs, and she even met with me in Berlin while I was studying abroad to discuss the transfer of my credits.”
Barbe was also commended for her work promoting the German language and culture in K-12 schools and for developing innovative college curriculum and courses. Her NIU students not only refine their German conversational skills in class but also watch German feature films and assist in other professors’ research by translating German texts into English.
“In my translation classes, I always try to find texts for the students to translate that are actually of use and thus relevant,” Barbe said.
One year, for example, her students translated a chapter of a German book on Jerry Lee Lewis for NIU assistant English professor Joe Bonomo, who was writing a book on the rock musician. Another year, her students translated a radio script for one of Barbe’s German colleagues.
Barbe teaches German language and linguistics classes and has been recognized for excellence within the NIU community as well. In 2006, she won the university’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.