Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences • Northwestern University

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In Mark Twain's account of his European travels, A Tramp Abroad (1880), he includes the following comment about what he terms "The Awful German Language":

My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English in 30 hours, French in 30 days, and German in 30 years. It seems manifest then, that the latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired. If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it.

Twain is dead wrong! Every year over 100 Northwestern students disprove Twain's contention by succesfully completing their second year of German language instruction: they have the ability to converse with native Germans, write letters or read short stories. And they do this after a little over 200 hours in the classroom - 9.24 days to be exact. Which also proves that it is easier to learn German than it is to learn any other language ...


Those of you who like languages and have decided to begin or continue the study of German will most enjoy courses which equally emphasize all four language skills (understanding, speaking, reading, writing), such as First Year German (101) and Second Year German (102). Selected readings, documentaries, and authentic videos will enrich your knowledge of the culture and people of German speaking countries. Students who have fulfilled the language requirement may want to sign up for one of the many courses the German department offers on the third and fourth year level, including Business German, and culture and literature courses.

First-Year Students
performing a skit

Kresge Hall 2-375 • 1880 Campus Drive • Evanston, IL 60208-2203 • (847) 491-7249 • german@northwestern.edu

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Northwestern University