Indiana University Bloomington

Germanic Studies

Indiana University

Learning the Language

Learning a new language always means embarking on a journey into a new world. These worlds do not consist of words and structures alone – they also open up vistas into different ways of life. It is the endeavor of the German language program to make this linguistic and cultural experience in the German language a fascinating and enjoyable one! We aim to teach our students grammatical, discourse, sociolinguistic and strategic competence, as well as interactive and cross-cultural awareness. This means you will learn:

  • lexis, phonology, grammar: how to form words, pronounce, and arrange them;
  • cohesion and coherence: how words are connected appropriately to form meaningful utterances and texts;
  • contextual appropriateness: how to say what you mean and mean what you say in different communicative contexts;
  • communication strategies: how to solve communication problems;
  • interactive use: how to realize your own and others’ communicative intentions;
  • intercultural awareness: how to appreciate differences in language use and outlook on life across cultural borders
  • The 100-level courses

    German 100 is an introductory course for students who have not previously studied German. The course aims to help students in becoming communicatively and interactionally active in the German language. It covers the first seven chapters of the book Neue Horizonte. By the end of the course participants should be able to understand and respond appropriately to simple questions and statements in German. They will have learned to talk and write in German about themselves, their families, and university life. They will have encountered a variety of German texts on school, university, and working life, traveling, as well as geography and climate of Germany. German 150 is the follow-up course. It covers the second part of Neue Horizonte. By the end of the course participants should be able to conduct simple conversations in German. They read texts about Austria and Switzerland, as well as city life, German history and politics. They also study different modes of address and levels of politeness, talk and write in German about past and future occurrences, express wishes and possibilities, and learn to recognize and understand differences between the active and the passive voice. Neue Horizonte combines the study of language structure with communicative approaches that aim to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It also offers authentic texts from the beginning, from simple rhymes, riddles and tongue-twisters to a variety of 18th, 19th and 20th century poems.

    The 200-level courses

    German 200 and 250 are lower-intermediate courses. They are based on the book Anders gedacht. " Anders gedacht" can be translated as "thinking differently", and thinking in a variety of different ways about the German language and the cultures of German-speaking countries is what we hope to encourage. The book offers multiple approaches to German-speaking realities through films, pictures, contemporary and historical texts on fine arts, literature, politics, economics, and science. Specific language learning strategies will help students negotiate the various texts and develop contextual understanding. Grammar, vocabulary, and other aspects of learning the language are skillfully embedded in the cultural and historical context of the German language and the lives of native German speakers. Students read and discuss authentic texts, compare their impressions of paintings, and watch video segments on a variety of topics. This will increase their ability to communicate thoughts in German both orally and in writing. Carefully chosen grammar points offer revisions of language structures that have been encountered during earlier study of German.

    The 300-level courses

    Aspekte, the text for our 300-level courses, highlights different topics of life in German-speaking countries, and looks at individual and cultural differences in communication and negotiation, aspects of home, work and business, as well as science, culture and history. The 300-level courses are designed as a stepping stone into further meaningful academic engagement with the German speaking world. High-intermediate students are on their way to content-specific courses and G300 and G330 will best prepare them for this next step. In oral and written responses to the readings, students will demonstrate a growing awareness of and sensibility to German culture. These courses will help students express their ideas in a manner that is consistent with advanced language work. A main focus of the 300-level courses is on expressing oneself in German, in both spoken and written texts. In each semester, there will also be literary texts to be read: Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka in G300 and Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee by Thomas Brüsig in G330. By the end of the third year, students should be able to understand and respond to a range of texts and media from spheres as diverse as literature, politics, contemporary culture, and entertainment.

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