A little piece of Germany in Chicago


Mr. Ziarnik’s students enjoy their trip to Christkindlmarkt in Downtown Chicago. The students will practice their German while talking to the salespeople, many of whome have come directly from Germany

It’s not everyday that students can take a field trip to Europe, but Andrew Ziarnik, German Teacher, has found the next best thing.

Ziarnik has been taking students downtown every year to the Christkindlmarkt, which is the largest German Christmas market in North America. According to Ziarnik, it will authentically resemble a trip to Germany while giving students the opportunity to practice German.

“When we arrive at Christkindlmarkt, there will be a scavenger hunt of information that the students will need to look for,” Ziarnik, who has been teaching German here since 2002, said. “We spend a number of days before the trip studying the tradition of German Christmas markets, which goes back hundreds of years.”

In Germany, millions of people visit markets like Christkindlmarkt every year, so when his students go the the market, they will be looking around for information based on a variety of cultural questions, Ziarnik said.

“They will need to possibly interview some of the salespeople, many of which come directly from Germany,” Ziarnik said. “They will be asking questions, looking around for information, and keeping their eyes opened. They will be applying vocabulary and concepts that we will learn in class before the trip.”

Ziarnik hopes that this will help students practice their German speaking skills by conversing with the salespeople in German, many having come directly from Germany. He also hopes that students will learn about the tradition of the markets by watching the people making crafts or seeing the different goods being sold.

“The market is modeled almost exactly on the market that is in Nurnberg, Germany, which is the sister city of Chicago,” Ziarnik said. “The way the buildings are set up, the colors, the sights, sounds, and smells, everything is very authentic.”

Learning new vocabulary and doing some reading up on the history of the markets will help prepare students for the trip, according to Ziarnik. Besides that, they will be watching videos on the markets in Germany and learning about some cultural traditions surrounding the markets.

“It’s an opportunity to visit a little piece of Germany for a few hours,” Ziarnik said. “And it happens to be right here in Chicago.”