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The “Erfinderland Deutschland” (‘Inventions from Germany’) exhibition recently hosted by the Foresight Centre at the University of Liverpool and curated by the Goethe Institut, made an impact on students of German from the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. With their tutors Veronika Koeper-Saul and Anke Bohm, first- and second-year students visited the exhibition and enjoyed the opportunity both to practise their German language skills and to open their eyes to Germany’s contributions to science, technology, and invention.

German students at the Erfinderland Deutschland' exhibition

German students at the ‘Erfinderland Deutschland’ exhibition

The exhibition’s interactive displays were particularly memorable, not least because many of the students were unaware of the role of German technology in club and dance events. Students – and staff – enjoyed using a DJ deck to speed up and slow down tracks, as well as trying their hand at a classic ‘scratch’.

The hands-on aspect to the students visit was complemented by the informal testing of their German language and comprehension skills, when the staff from the Goethe Institut who were running the workshop quizzed the students – in German – on their impressions and recollections. Several students were surprised to learn that aspirin is a German invention. Connie Compton-Stewart, a first-year student in German, appreciated the chance to speak German in an environment other than the classroom, and she also learnt a great deal about the role German scientists and inventors have played in shaping modern life.

So many things that we – on a daily basis – take for granted were actually invented in Germany. Aspirin, for example, has done so much for medical science.

The exhibition played on the image of a stereotypical German professor and challenged students to think about the practical role that German science has played in late modernity, as well as highlighting the extent to which German language skills offer the potential for careers in a wide range of fields.