We understand German Studies today as an interdisciplinary field of cultural, social, economic and political aspects of the German-speaking countries. We teach it through a curriculum of language, literature and cultural studies courses that also provide historical and international context. Our students are educated to be informed and capable interlocutors able to interact with educated native speakers in the target language.

Teaching practice

The set of abilities we teach links our language courses with our upper-division courses: there is no language teaching without content; and inversely, our advanced courses still also work on language improvement. Our teaching, therefore, emphasizes language learning and transcultural competence at all levels and through a wide variety of highly interactive in-class activities.

Learning Goals in German Studies

All German language students (German 1-33) should achieve the B1 level of the common EU frame of reference for scholastic performance (CEFR). This entails all four basic linguistic abilities of listening, speaking reading and writing.

German Minors should achieve the B2 language proficiency level, and German Majors should achieve the C1 level. This means the ability to converse in German on a wide range of topics, including academic topics; comprehend and analyze German texts, and write critically. Majors and minors will also:

  • have an understanding of the historical, political, and cultural events that shape contemporary Germany and develop appropriate social sensibility, and aesthetic perceptions;
  • be familiar with representative works of German literature, fine arts, music, cinema, and architecture;
  • have a sense of German geography, society, sites of memory, historical figures, and culture-specific products such as fashion and cuisine.

German Studies offers two options for its Senior Exercise:

  • Option 1: Senior Thesis with a required presentation.
  • Option 2: Senior Exercise consisting of three essays, one in German, two in English, based on previous course work; and an Oral exam (in German) to discuss the results of the written part.

As a small program, German Studies offers students and faculty many opportunities to meet and develop individualized, coherent plans of study and assure our students’ success, progress toward study goals, and well-being.