Objectives and components of Profile deutsch

1. Can Do statements

At the heart of Profile deutsch are the Can Do statements with related examples. The positive wording describes what learners are able to at a certain level. A generally accepted system of Can Do statements makes it easier to compare different learning objectives, materials and tests and can help assess learning achievements more clearly.
The communicative language competence of a learner is realized in different communicative language activities which comprise reception, production, interaction and mediation. All of these language activities can occur in writing or orally or both. (See table)

Activities Form Skills
Interaction oral listening comprehension and speaking
Interaction written reading comprehension and writing skills
Reception oral listening comprehension
Reception written reading comprehension
Production oral speaking
Production written writing skills
Mediation oral interpreting
Mediation written translating

The Can Do statements of Profile deutsch listed according to activities, form and skills.

1.1 Global Can Do statements

The global Can Do statements describe qualitative aspects of the expected linguistic performance in particular. They describe in general terms how well someone can do something in relation to the four language activities at a certain level. Global Can Do statements are not tied to any specific situation. They focus on the quality of communicative activities in a very comprehensive form. The global Can Do statements are divided into different quality characteristics, which illustrate developments in competence over all six levels (A1–A2, B1–B2, C1–C2).

1.2 Detailed Can Do statements

The main task of the detailed Can Do statements is to describe the typical and most likely behaviour of learners at certain levels, as well as expressing what learners are able to do. Detailed descriptions of different communicative activities make transparent for teachers and learners which language tasks should be managed at what level. Can Do statements are assigned to different important basic linguistic acts. The detailed Can Do statements come with various examples and are supplemented by possible text types. They are suggestions which can help when teaching and compiling teaching materials and which should make it possible to be able to meet the demands of different groups of learners. The detailed Can Do statements are also of invaluable help for test designers when compiling exam material.

2. Linguistic resources

Thanks to an arrangement in different categories (thematic vocabulary, language activities with a culture-specific aspect, general concepts and vocabulary) the user can easily find the linguistic resources needed to fulfil a certain task with the help of this categorisation. For each linguistic element there is information about the level (A1-B2) at which the item should be used receptively or productively. In addition, you can find at least one example sentence each, which demonstrates correct usage. Other detailed information (word class, plural form, verbal forms, etc.) supplement the entry. The different linguistic resources are cross-referenced. The dictionary supplements and adds to the other chapters.

2.1 Thematic vocabulary 

Thematic vocabulary is used, amongst others, to refer to persons, things, actions, etc. in a particular thematic context, e.g. “job and profession”. This vocabulary is needed to talk about a particular topic or to act in a concrete situation, e.g. to explain a new computer programme to someone at work. The thematic vocabulary is very extensive. Therefore, it is important to select it according to the interests and needs of the learners and to add additional words and phrases to specific areas as required. The thematic vocabulary in “Profile deutsch” is divided into 15 categories: personal data/information about a person, habitation, the environment, travelling and transport, food and beverage, shopping, public and private services, the body, health care and hygiene, perception and motor functions, job and profession, education/school, foreign language, leisure and entertainment, personal relationships and contacts, politics and society. You can find information about the level at which a word is used receptively and productively in most of the entries. Each entry lists an example sentence and grammatical information; should there be words or structures in other chapters or topics that are important for this entry, they are cross-referenced. There are also so-called “open word fields” for special needs or specific group profiles. Entries in these fields are not associated with a particular level, but encourage learners to supplement the vocabulary according to their own specific needs and interests. Many entries also refer to variations in the different German-speaking countries. In addition, you can find extra information on common country-specific terms in the so-called “D-A-CH” windows.

2.2 Speech acts

The section on speech acts includes oral and written phrases. They are used by the speakers to express their feelings, attitudes, thoughts or intentions  in order to exchange information, maintain social relationships or to give structure to a conversation, for example. In Profile deutsch speech acts are categorised by the communicative intentions which can be stated by these linguistic means: exchanging information, evaluating, commenting, emotions, regulating activities, social conventions, organising speech and successful communication. There is a separate category with culture-specific aspects of speech acts which seem to be culturally “sensitive”.

2.3 General concepts

While speaking or writing speakers do not only express intentions and special topics, but also deal with general concepts and ideas. These general concepts have to do with information about relations of time or relations of space. In contrast to thematic vocabulary, these terms cannot be attributed to a specific topic, thus you can use them in various contexts. “Profile deutsch” took over the following categories: persons, objects, things, concepts, existence, space, time, quantity, properties, relations.

2.4 Dictionary

The in-built dictionary “Großwörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache” contains over 33,000 entries with information on grammar, variations on meaning, word formation and idioms. The dictionary supplements the other word lists and helps when compiling vocabulary lists for the levels C1 and C2. The entries are listed alphabetically and contain information about levels A1 – B2 when the words also occur in the thematic lists or in the list of general concepts. There are also direct links to the dictionary from the thematic lists and the section on general concepts, giving users more information about a particular entry in one of the lists. Idiomatic phrases and word-formation procedures are highlighted as they play an important role at higher language levels. The dictionary is also the starting point for compiling special word lists for particular groups.

3. Grammar (A1–B2)

In Profile deutsch grammar can be accessed from two points of view:

  • Systematic Grammar: Entries are documented in systematic grammatical categories such as text – sentence – word.
  • Functional Grammar: Entries are listed according to the different functions and the intentions they state.

3.1 Systematic grammar

The systematic Grammar is divided into five main categories: text, sentence, syntactic units, words, word formation. Each chapter of the systematic grammar section in Profile deutsch comprises a general “explanation” which describes common characteristics and “samples” in which you find example sentences showing articles that were used including information on levels. Most of the example sentences are extracted from the lists of “speech acts” and “general concepts”.

3.2 Functional grammar

The functional approach categorises grammatical phenomena according to intentions, relations and textual elements. The functional representation shows which linguistic resources can be used for a speech act e.g. an intention at a certain level and also includes concrete examples for clarification.

4. Texts and textual patterns

In the “text types” section, texts that share similar functions or have a comparable aim are listed together (f.e. text type “job interview” ). Profile deutsch contains a list of approximately 160 different text types. They are categorised according to six different aspects, namely:

  • Channel: oral – written
  • Interaction: simultaneous – delayed
  • Medium: e.g. radio and audio recordings, new media, books
  • Purpose: e.g. general information, advertising, teaching
  • Form of presentation: e.g. graphs and tables, images
  • Area: private, public, professional, educational

All text types are cross-referenced with detailed Can Do statements. That means that together with each Can Do statement important text types in connection with this Can Do statement are listed.
Some types of texts, like manuals, for example, are similar in structure, contents and wording. Such text types can be described by textual patterns. These textual patterns are often implemented differently in different cultures. This is why Profile deutsch lists about 35 textual patterns that describe the following text characteristics: short characterisation, structure, language: grammar, vocabulary, and in oral textual patterns also phonetics and body language.

5. Learning and testing strategies

Strategies are used to mobilise our own resources and activate skills and processes in order to complete tasks as successfully and efficiently as possible. Strategies are mental plans that are not visible. Only when a certain technique is used or applied does a strategy become clear. Usually, several methods and techniques are available to carry out a strategy, which individuals choose according to their personality, language and strategic competence or situational context, etc.

Profile deutsch differentiates between two different types of strategy:

Communicative strategies for:

  • receptive strategies
  • productive strategies
  • interactive strategies
  • strategies for mediation

Learning and testing strategies for language learning

  • affective strategies
  • decision-making strategies
  • memorizing strategies
  • problem-solving strategies
  • social strategies
  • strategies for self-monitoring
  • processing strategies