Interview with Erica Swyers

written on 24/08/2020
by Jutta Thielen-del Pozo

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Erica Swyers lived and studied in Germany, currently she is doing her PhD in Canada.

Jutta Thielen-del Pozo asked her why she studied German in the first place and what her PhD is about.


Erica Swyers is a second-year PhD student in the department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

This PhD program is interdisciplinary with a focus on applied linguistics as well as literature and cultural studies. This opens a wide range of research possibilities, from conversation analysis to foreign language teaching; from medieval studies to comic books.

What these areas all have in common is that they explore how language is used to create meaning in different areas of our lives.

Erica is especially interested in the field of language education. She is currently working on developing a university German language program which draws on the strengths of its learners and incorporates digital tools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented enormous challenges to language teachers and learners; further research about online language education will allow us to improve the quality of online language teaching for years to come.

Born and raised in Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast, Erica Swyers first started learning German at the age of 18 when she began her university studies.

Her tips for learning German include engaging with German media (TV, radio, TED-talks, books) and interacting in German as much as possible. Be confident in the German you do know, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!