Müller, Jule Inken: Conceptualizing linguistic mediation as cultural mediation and fostering it with complex tasks

Mediation – conveying the meaning of an oral, written, (audio-)visual or multimodal source text into a text of another language in accordance with the situation and the needs of the addressee – has become an inherent part in German curricula. In Lower Saxony, for example, mediation tasks have been part of the written Abitur exam since 2013. Tasks to foster the functional communicative competence can be found in each and every new edition of modern foreign language text books. On closer inspection, however, one quickly finds that frequently they can rather be seen as mere reading comprehension tasks in a language other than the one of the text (cf. Caspari 2013: 31) or a simple contextless translation (cf. Klewitz 2015: 34). This disregards the fact that mediators enable communication that would have not been possible otherwise, because the source text and the target text differ on a linguistic as well as on a cultural level. This means that the cultural references of the texts have to be decoded and adapted to the cultural context of the recipients, and passages of the original text might need to be omitted or further explained.
The research project seeks to specify the inherent connection of mediation and cultural learning with the help of various theoretical approaches to cultural learning. Based on this theoretical foundation, tasks in the sense of a task-based language learning approach that especially foster the cultural level of mediation will be developed. They will be evaluated in an empirical study, taking the perspectives of the teachers, the researcher, and the students as well as their mediation products into consideration. Based on this evaluation, they will then be developed further in several cycles. The goal is to establish principles for the construction of mediation tasks that consider mediation as cultural mediation.