As the official language of the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and portions of several other European countries—and with linguistic enclaves in the Americas and Africa—German is today the native tongue of close to 120 million people. For advanced-degree programs in fields such as art history, music history, philosophy, and European history, German is still a required language. And whether the motivation for study is business, culture, travel, friendship, or heritage, a knowledge of German can add inestimable depth to a student’s landscape of thought and feeling.
Students should ideally plan to study German for at least two years. First- and second-year German aim to teach students how to communicate in German and acquire grammatical competency through exercises that both demand accuracy and encourage free expression. While conference work in Beginning German consists of intensive grammar work with the German assistant (both group and individual conferences), intermediate-level students work on their cultural competency by reading German literature (fairy tales, novellas, poems) and working on class, group, or individual research projects (e.g., writing a short story or screenplay in German, exploring German cities online, reading newspaper articles on current events). Advanced German is a cultural studies seminar. Students solidify their cultural competency by studying German history and culture from the late 18th century to the present. A special emphasis is placed on 20th-century German history and culture, including contemporary German literature and film.
Many students of German spend a semester or year studying in Germany. Students have the opportunity to take a 5-week summer seminar in Berlin (6 credits), where they will take a German Cultural Studies seminar with an emphasis on the history and culture of Berlin and a class in art/architecture, dance, or the German language (taught at Neue Schule in Berlin).