21 November 2014

Innovative Hindi instructor named 2014 teacher of year


The University of Copenhagen’s teacher of the year for 2014 is known for taking students out of the classroom and into Indian culture in both Denmark and India. This year’s award will be presented during the University’s Annual Commemoration on 21 November

Elmar Josef Renner

Each year, the University of Copenhagen recognises exceptional, inspiring instruction by awarding its ‘Årets Harald’ to the teacher of the year. This year, the award goes to an instructor who engages students by using innovative and active teaching methods in order to help them understand Indian culture and the Hindi language, the second-most-widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese.

In her nomination, Barabara Højlund Jacbosen, an undergraduate in the Modern India and South Asian Studies programme, wrote:

“We nominate Elmer Josef Renner to be teacher of the year in recognition of his incredibly inspiring instructional methods, which demonstrate his understanding of how to give us, his students, insight into the Indian culture as part of our language instruction. Whether it is taking us to a Sikh temple in suburban Copenhagen or by organising a lunch with the Indian ambassador’s wife, his instruction helps put the Hindi language into a cultural perspective.”

The teacher of the year award will be presented together with the International Study Environment Award on during the Annual Commemoration on 21 November, which will be attended by Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik.

“I am honoured to have received the award. This is the best feedback you can get from your students,” Elmar Josef Renner, assistant professor at University of  Copenhagen, says.

Cultural understating aids language learning

Renner’s students highlight his network in the Danish-Indian community, and his ability to teach Hindi in an intuitive and innovative manner as reasons their nomination. He makes the language relevant and “switches confidently between various Indian dialects, while at the same time possessing a vast knowledge of the language’s etymology”, the students wrote in their nomination. His instruction, they added, is proof that language is learned best in a cultural context.

“His instructional texts often incorporate dialogue. What we have learned is that these are not fictional people conjured up solely for educational purposes. On a number of occasions we’ve met the people he has used in his texts and we’ve been able to practise speaking with them,” says Barbara Højlund Jacobsen.

Economic growth in South Asia opens job opportunities

South Asia, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, has emerged as a political and economic powerhouse in recent years. The University’s Modern Indian and South Asian Studies Bachelor’s programme began in 2012 and focuses on the languages, history, society and politics of the region.

The goal of the programme is to prepare students for a career working with businesses and NGOs that are active in the region in fields such as commerce, development, foreign affairs, military or culture.

Students enrolled in the programme are required to learn Hindi, India’s national language and which is spoken by some 500 million people around the world. An estimated 800 million people understand Hindi.

In addition to the recognition as teacher of the year, ‘Årets Harald’ recipients are given a statuette in the form of an owl and 25,000 kroner.


Elmar Josef Renner
Teaching assistant professor
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Mobile: 91 19 67 32
Mail: pxd337@hum.ku.dk

News editor Rikke Jørgensen
Mobile: 27 50 90 39
Mail: rikkej@adm.ku.dk