The First Two Years of German Language

Beginning German

The Beginning German sequence at Northwestern University uses a variety of teaching techniques emphasizing communicative, content-based and task-oriented activities. Students engage in daily language tasks that require listening, speaking, reading and writing in German. The courses incorporate digital resources that introduce contemporary culture and history of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Students beginning German at Northwestern University will find a supportive classroom environment that encourages creativity and collaboration and at the same time lays the foundation for continued language development in German.

Students can begin their study of German during any quarter. The traditional sequence of 101-1,2,3 runs fall, winter and spring. An intensive course begins winter quarter with 101-1 and finishes in spring with two units, 101-2 and 102-3. A third option allows students to begin German 101-1 during spring quarter with a special focus on music.

Key features of the curriculum in Beginning German include:

  • Students bring language to life through partner and small group work
  • Students practice pronunciation using NU developed DiLL software
  • Literary traditions are taught via text and interactive stations during Goethe days
  • Students test their journalism skills by interviewing native speakers in the “Mystery Guest” event
  • Theater comes to the classroom in the actors workshop
  • Talents are showcased in spring at the annual Evening O’Skits

Intermediate German

The sequence of intermediate German has several goals. While we continue to develop proficiency in German language skills, we employ a variety of materials in spoken and written word, including Northwestern’s own interactive on-line grammar. The students also gain insight into Germany and its place in Europe in the past and today. Since history is a critical part of the German identity, we devote one quarter (usually the fall) to an examination of German society at its historical turning points (fin-de-siècle, Weimar, the Nazi period, divided and unified Germany). In the winter quarter students immerse themselves in contemporary language, including slang, as we follow a popular German television program about a multiethnic German-Turkish family and discuss immigration and cultural integration in Germany. When spring comes our curriculum presents a new challenge: reading excerpts from some of the most astonishing literary pieces written in the German language (by Brecht, Kafka, and Böll, among others). Once students complete the Intermediate German sequence, they are ready to go and experience life in German speaking countries or to discover more about German language, culture and thought in the department's 200-level courses.

Key features of the curriculum in Intermediate German include:

  • Acting workshop in the fall;
  • Film screening without subtitles in the winter;
  • Skit evening in the spring quarter.