Grad School Spotlight on Hintze

"I really appreciate MSU's and especially my departments' willingness to accept 'non-typical' grad students like me. I am very grateful to have gotten this chance to deepen my knowledge in the field I choose and to explore so many more. The guidance and experience the faculty can offer here is phenomenal!" -Leonie Hintze

Leonie Hintze is a graduate student in the College of Arts and Letters, studying German in a Master’s program. Leonie came to the United States 13 years ago from Germany, when her husband was first granted a postdoc appointment in California. Before their move, Leonie worked in education. At age 23 she was teaching elementary and by age 25 she was a Vice Principal- where she was in charge of lesson planning for all the classes in the school, had to take over the principal’s duties in case of an emergency, and functioned as a liaison between the principal and the staff. While she loved her work, her husband lived in a different part of the country than her and they only saw each other on weekends. The opportunity to move to the U.S. together meant she gave up her work but gain more time with her partner. “Sometimes love is stronger than any job,” she says.

After moving to the states, Leonie and her husband welcomed a set of twin boys into their family. “The twins were unexpected, but they were great because I didn’t have anything to do and all my energy could go into raising twins. I left a job that really fulfilled me. I was like, all right, it’s great being a mom and I love it, but something else was missing, so I started teaching at a Saturday school. It was a German Saturday school where for three hours on Saturdays, kids would come and be prepared for German class.” It was in this role that Leonie was reminded of her love for teaching and education, something she decided she just couldn’t leave behind. When her husband’s entire lab moved to Michigan State, Leonie and the kids also came to East Lansing.

Here she began teaching in the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) in a German for preschoolers program. Her twins started preschool and her family was surprised with another set of twins, which she affectionately refers to as “the minis”.  Hintze notes, “I needed to be brave… I really need something to do. At that point, I had started a German playgroup because there are so many Germans here that you don’t realize, all with kids kind of in the same age. So we did a Saturday morning playgroup and I taught some German with games, songs, reading books and whatever. And through that group, I met one of the German professors here on campus who saw potential in my teaching abilities and convinced me to join the Ph.D. program.”

With the support of her family, Leonie embarked on her doctoral journey. Despite anxiety around the GRE, Hintze says she got her application in and accepted – “all right, let’s start, let’s get my heart back into teaching,” she thought. She recognizes that being out of the formal teaching game for 10 years has meant she has a lot of technology to catch up on, but continues to find herself excited and inspired by the advances that have been made in the field of education and education technologies. “But I started doing my first little research project, with technology.

I’m trying to figure out if, because a teacher when he gets out of the classroom can only think like, ‘oh yeah, they did a pretty good job today. They talked about those things and I think they did a pretty good job and staying in the target language.’ But how do you know you only because you’re paying so much attention to it? There are so many tools out there that can transcribe your things and in English it’s pretty standard already, but for foreign languages and when you switch between two languages it’s hard. So there’s just a new tool out that I just got IRB-approved to test in my classes to see how the transcription works. Because if you get the transcripts you can, first of all, see how much the teacher stays in the target language and you can give individual feedback.” If being a doctoral student as well as a wife and mother of two sets of twins seems like a handful, Leonie is also a triathlete!

[Original article:]