Where and what did you study before you came to Germanic and Slavic Studies at University of Waterloo?
I studied Psychology at FU Berlin and JLU Gießen in Germany.
What are your interests in German Studies?
My main interests are related to multilingualism, heritage language learning, and the intergenerational transmission of heritage languages. Further interests include (first and second) language acquisition, foreign language teaching, early childhood language education, and evolutionary aspects of human communication.
Why did you choose this program?
I graduated in Psychology in 2005, but it wasn't until I started a family and moved to Canada that I developed a deep interest in issues related to multilingual upbringing and communication. I decided to return to academia to extend my expertise to the field of linguistics and examine questions related to multilingualism from an interdisciplinary perspective. The program provided ideal opportunities to follow through with my plan, since it allowed me to focus my dissertation on the topics of my interest within applied linguistics.
Do you already know what you want to write your thesis on?
My dissertation explores subjective perspectives on learning and living with German as a 'heritage' language in Canada. I target questions such as: What connections do individual learners of German as a 'heritage' language experience between the development of their language(s) and different realms of their lives, such as their sense of self? What meanings do they attach to their 'German background' and to living with more than one language? Informed by recent theories of multilingualism, language learning, and the self, the thesis problematizes 'traditional' perspectives from the field of heritage language education. The study aims to derive implications for the teaching of heritage languages, as well as for language education in general.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I didn't really think about that. But I have always loved asking people questions, and as soon as I could write, I began to document and analyze my 'findings', so I guess I must have had an intuitive idea of the direction I was heading...
What is a fun-fact about you?
Without UW, I would not exist. Though I grew up in Germany, it turns out the spot where my parents met for the first time is a chemistry lab just a few steps away from the Modern Languages building - so I figured it would be a fun place to obtain a PhD... and I was right!