Undergraduate programs in German tend to begin with basic language courses and progress to advanced speaking, writing and literature courses. After basic and intermediate instruction, students can further explore advanced conversation, German for business purposes or German literature.
Graduate-level courses tend to focus on a variety of topics, such as art, history, theater and politics. Some graduate programs are immersion programs in which students communicate only in German.
Subjects covered in German language courses include the following:
- Conversation and composition
- German for entrepreneurs
- German politics and culture
- German Romanticism
- Life in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)
- Studies in the Protestant Reformation
- Teaching German
List of Common Courses
Beginning German is often taught as a 2-semester course, typically in German rather than English. This course introduces students to the language via the four standard skill sets that form most foreign language curricula: speaking, reading, writing and listening comprehension. It also serves as an introduction to German culture and emphasizes conversational skills that may be useful for students seeking to visit German-speaking nations.
A continuation of skills learned in elementary German, the intermediate German course also focuses on the development of the four foreign language skill sets. Some programs emphasize speaking and writing at this level, since it is often used as a pathway to more specific German culture courses. Intermediate German usually incorporates a curriculum based on familiar themes and subjects, such as family, food and current events, among others. Further conversational practice helps develop more versatile speakers, while the study of modern German texts improves reading and writing. While intermediate German is usually a 2-semester course, some programs condense it into one.
Also called conversational German or advanced German conversation, this is the highest level of linguistic German education. Students are expected to master a large vocabulary and possess intimate knowledge of German grammar and syntax, the study of which remains ongoing throughout the course. Students develop their ability to express their ideas clearly and spontaneously. In more fluent conversation, students learn a host of idiomatic expressions. This course usually incorporates substantial cultural and historical instruction since this is the level in which cultural context becomes most important. It may be offered in a 2-semester format or in one.
This course is designed for students who need to survive in the German-speaking business world. An alternative to the advanced German course, business German requires previous completion of the intermediate German courses or the equivalent. This course emphasizes German language study from an economic perspective. Conversation and culture are taught, but the focus is on business communication, formal conversation and the differences between German and English economic practices.
German students have several options in literature courses. Instruction in literature courses may be in English or German depending on the level and purpose of instruction. Some German literature courses provide a broad overview. Others focus on a genre, an author, a literary movement or time period. Courses in German literature may, for example, concentrate on short fiction, important writers such as Goethe or literary movements like Romanticism.