Deutsch 101-326 an der Universität Michigan

German on the Web
Learning Strategies

German Dept.
Max Kade House
German Club

PONS online dict.
L.E.O. online dict.
Wortschatz Deutsch



Deutsch 230--Sommer 2016: Kursinformation
Required Texts Recommended Grammar Text
Recommended Texts for "Abenteuer mit Deutsch" Other Recommended Texts
Course Requirements and Grading Scheme

Course Website

Gateway Vocabulary Test

Grammar vs. Speaking? No: Grammar Through Speaking!

Respectful Classroom Environment Academic Integrity, Essays, Homework
Course Administration Final Video Project
Homework Attendance and Participation Policy and Grading; Laptops & Cell Phones
Oral Exams Advice and Resources 

Required Texts: for both books, you will need this specific edited version!

Franz Kafka [edited by Achim Seiffarth]: Die Verwandlung [Book & CD], ISBN: (10-digit) 88-7754-808-8 or (13-digit) 978-88-7754-808-5 [or possibly 3125560292]
Thomas Brussig: Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee--Easy Reader Series, ISBN: 978-3126757195 [or possibly 978-0821925799]
Adriana Borra & Ruth Mader-Koltay: German Through Film, ISBN: 0-300-10950-4 [Yale University Press]

Recommended Grammar Text

All the grammar you are required to know is in the course materials online, but this book is an excellent reference.

Rankin/Wells. Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik (grammar text), 6th Edition (G)

Recommended Texts for "Abenteuer mit Deutsch"

These are a few suggestions. You do not have to buy a book for this. Check out the lending library of books in the Language Resource Center for more choices.
Hans Peter Richter: Damals war es Friedrich ISBN: 3423078006
Adalbert von Chamisso: Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte [Lesen leicht gemacht Series] ISBN: 3125592208
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen

C.R. Goedsche: Cultural Graded Reader: Heine ISBN: 0442220383 Unfortunately, this text has been out of print for some time ==> we cannot order copies for the bookstores. If you are interested in it, you should be able to find a used copy online, e.g. via!

Other Recommended Texts

You can use online dictionaries exclusively. We recommend supplemented by when the PONS site is slow or you want to check a second source. LEO provides easier access to noun plurals and verb conjugations. Recommended paper dictionary:

  • Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary German (Be sure to get the much cheaper and more practical paperback, not the hardcover!)
  • Harper Collins Beginner's German Dictionary, 6th ed. Roughly 90,000 entries, lots of helpful usage examples, especially easy to read and use.
Zorach & Melin: English Grammar for Students of German, 6th ed.
Brown: A Practical Guide to Language Learning
Jones & Tschirner: A Frequency Dictionary of German ( ISBN: 0-415-31632-4) Expensive, and not suited for use as a regular dictionary, but an excellent resource if you want to build your vocabulary systematically.

Course Requirements and Grading Scheme

Attendance & Participation
Homework (including AMDs)
Essays and Rewrites
Final Video Project
Watch Teletubbies
Quizzes & Mini-Quizzes
Hourly Exams
Oral Exams
Gateway Vocabulary Test--see below  

Course Website:

Gateway Vocabulary Test

During the first three weeks of the course, you will have several opportunities to take a "Gateway Vocabulary Test" on a list of 584 of the most frequent German words and phrases. You can find the vocabulary list on the course website. You need a score of 85% to pass this test; once you pass it, you need not take it again. If you do not manage to pass this test by the last scheduled time, your final course grade will be reduced by one grade notch, i.e. an A would become an A-, an A- would become a B+ etc.

The test is not very long ==> Please show your instructor your score screen when you are finished, so she can also record your score by hand. Please plan ahead-->don't wait until the last minute--we will not consider this an excuse. If the test times do not fit your schedule, please inform your instructor, so she can arrange an alternative time for you to take the test.

Most of these frequent words and expressions should already be familiar to you. To help you study for the test, the test will be available for you to take online (just don't submit your score!) as often as you wish. The test consists of a large item bank, of which you will see 40 items each time the test loads.

Grammar vs. Speaking? No: Grammar (and Vocabulary!) Through Speaking!

We design proficiency activities so that much of class time is for practicing speaking and applying the German vocabulary and grammar structures you've learned. We use a lot of partner and group activities (which we hope you will find to be an enjoyable, low-stress way of speaking German without worrying about mistakes!).

Grammar can be studied and practiced outside of class, so in order to maximize class time for exchanging interesting information, we ask you to read about the grammar covered in class before we actually cover it in class. Don't worry if the grammar confuses you when you study it on your own: you will find that the practice in class will usually clear things up; if the class seems to need it, your instructor will provide explicit explanations.

The best thing you can do to learn to speak good German is to relax, come to class prepared, have fun speaking in class, and ask questions when you know you're confused--your fellow students will be grateful to you!

Respectful Classroom Environment

This class really depends on all of us being comfortable interacting informally with each other, experimenting with the language, taking risks, and being playful. That means that what is important in every college classroom is especially important for us: that it should be a comfortable environment in which everyone feels welcome and respected. That means thinking about the things we say, not perpetuating stereotypes, and apologizing if you said something you didn't mean. It also means that we really want you to let your instructor know, in class or outside of class, in person or via email, if something happens in class that makes you uncomfortable, so that we can talk about how to make things better. If in doubt, please say something: your instructor will always be happy to hear from you.

  • Note: If there are students in your section whom you know from your previous German course(s), then of course it's great if you continue to enjoy working with these old friends. But we also hope you will make an effort to meet new people in this section, and be open to making new friends!
  • In this context, please bear in mind the University of Michigan's non-discrimination policy: The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

Academic Integrity, Essays and Homework

This course is governed by the prevailing Codes of Student Conduct and of Academic Integrity of the University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA). All work submitted must be original student work produced for this course, with proper quotation and citation of the contributions of others. Violations of Academic Integrity will be taken seriously and can in serious cases result in a failing grade for the course and/or referral to the LSA Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. Official LSA policies on Academic Integrity, and also a quiz on Academic Integrity, can be found at:

Essays: The four essays (and rewrites of these essays) that you submit for this course are where this policy crucially applies. This means:

  • You may NOT get someone who is proficient in German to proofread your essay. We recognize that you can actually learn a lot from having someone look over your essay with you, but we have to enforce this rule in order to make the grading fair for everyone. It IS OK for you to ask your instructor, an instructor in the German Lab, or some other proficient speaker 3 or 4 specific questions on how to say something. If you do so, please put the relevant text in bold print in your essay and include a note at the end with the name of the instructor or peer who helped you. If the person who helped you is a UofM German instructor and s/he chooses to help you with more than 3 or 4 things, you may cite the additional items in the same way.
  • You may ONLY use an online translator for single words and short phrases. When you do, please underline the relevant word or phrase and note the source you used at the end of your essay. Do this also when you use a paper dictionary. If you used multiple dictionary/translation resources, find a way to cite clearly which ones you used for what word/phrase. Note that online translators often produce noticeably absurd translations. The less you use them, the better your grade is likely to be. The hassle of having to cite every use of such resources in your essay will hopefully serve as an additional disincentive and reminder to keep you from overusing them!
    • It is normal (and good practice!) to look up the genders and plurals of nouns, and the conjugation patterns of verbs you use in your essay. You do NOT need to cite your use of online or paper dictionaries for this purpose!
    • We strongly encourage you to use a German spellchecker for your essays (and for your homework, and also for any spells you cast in German). You do NOT need to cite your use of this resource.
  • If you consult any additional resources not assigned in the course (e.g. wikipedia or other online sources), please cite them at the end of your essay, even if you did not quote from them directly. Put any direct quotes in quotation marks and cite the source with a footnote. Any format for the citation is acceptable if it allows your instructor to find the specific source.
  • If in doubt, ASK your instructor before submitting your essay!!
  • ADVICE: You will get the most out of writing the essays for this course by creatively using the language you have learned, and thus "making it your own." Applying what you have learned will "make it stick," whereas new words and phrases you look up are much less likely to "stick" in your mind after you have written the essay. Thus, you benefit much less from the additional work of looking them up, and you increase the potential for mistakes. When you write about a German text you have read, look for opportunities to express the ideas from the text more simply in your own words. Where that is not possible, integrate the language of the text as much as you can into your own language, so that you are actually practicing and thus learning how to use the new terminology you are taking from the text.

Test Essays: Test review sheets for this course will always include the essay topics for the test. You are allowed (and even encouraged!) to get help from others when drafting your test essays. Online translator use is also permitted, but strongly discouraged. As with regular essays, you should view test essays as an opportunity to put into practice what you have learned. Leaf through the course materials to find ideas. You can be very creative in this way, and you will learn much more from writing the essays. Applying something you have learned will "make it stick," whereas new words and phrases you look up are much less likely to "stick" in your mind after you have written the essay.

Homework: You are allowed (and even encouraged!) to get help from others and to collaborate with classmates on homework; you may also use online translators and other sources, but please cite them in a clear way.

Course Administration:

Course Coordinator: Vicki Dischler (3120 MLB;

Language Program Director: Hartmut Rastalsky (3214 MLB; 647-0404). 

Final Video Project

Instead of torturing you with cramming for a final exam, we will ask you to do a final video project, in order to bring the course to a creative and enjoyable end. Detailed information about the video project is available at here. A link to this page is also provided in the online homework schedule.


Homework is graded on a scale of "check"/"check +"/"check -". "Check" means the homework has been done well or well enough. "Check +" means it has been done exceptionally well. "Check -" means it has been done poorly and/or incompletely. Late homework automatically receives a "check -". Homework will not be accepted if it is more than two class days late (unless you have a very good excuse). Homework that is not done at all receives a "0". At the end of the semester, we add up your homework grades, with a "check" counting as 0, a "check +" counting as +1, a "check -" as -1, and a "0" counting as -2. If the sum of your grades added up in this way is 0 or more (i.e. on average you have done all your assignments punctually and well), your homework grade is an "A."

Attendance and Participation Policy and Grading; Laptops and Cell Phones

  • To receive an "A" for attendance and participation, you must attend, be on time [=pünktlich], and participate well.
  • Excellent participation is not error-free, but it is frequent, enthusiastic, and demonstrates that you are paying attention and have prepared carefully at home in order to be able to contribute constructively in class.
  • Don't worry about making mistakes! Research has shown that all language learners proceed through stages of language acquisition (just at different speeds), each characterized by certain patterns of mistakes, so in this sense you have to make mistakes in order to learn.
  • ***Speaking and listening in class are an essential part of this course ==> If you have more than TEN absence hours [defined below] at the end of the semester, your FINAL COURSE GRADE will be an AUTOMATIC E***
    • Your instructors will schedule Deutschtische (where you will speak German while eating your lunch) twice a week. These are mandatory and missing a lunch table unexcused counts as half an absence hour as described below; missing one excused does not count as an absence hour.
    • If you have 8 - 10 absence hours, your ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION GRADE (15% of your final course grade) decreases by two full grades (e.g. a "B" becomes a "D")
    • If you have 4.5 - 7.5 absence hours, your ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION GRADE (15% of your final course grade) decreases by one full grade (e.g. a "B" becomes a "C")
    • The more often you arrive late to class, the lower your attendance and participation grade will be
    • Ask your instructor about ways to make up "absence hours." You can make up a maximum of four absence hours.
    • We count the hours of class you miss individually; thus if you miss one whole day of class, that's FOUR missed hours!
    • Please explain all absences, in advance if possible. Excused absences count as half an "absence hour," i.e. for example 8 excused absences + 2 unexcused absences = 6 "absence hours."
    • Absences for the following reasons will generally be excused: medical, psychological or family issues, family events such as weddings, baptisms or graduations, job interviews, trips for musical performances, debates or athletic events in which you are participating, etc.
    • Absences for the following reasons will generally be unexcused (but please still tell your instructor what's going on, so s/he won't think you've stopped caring!): oversleeping, hangovers, studying or completing work for another class, fraternity or sorority events, trips to attend concerts or athletic events, family trips, etc.

Laptops and Cell Phones

  • You do not need a laptop during class (there are a few exceptions--your instructor will let you know): class activities frequently require students to move around, and a laptop could easily get knocked over. We would consider this to be the fault of the student who brought the laptop, not the fault of the student knocking it over.
  • Inappropriate laptop/cell phone use (e.g. texting, chatting, checking facebook or sports scores, answering the phone) will lower your attendance/participation grade significantly.
  • Please silence your cell phone when class begins. If there is a good reason why you must answer the call, please leave the room very briefly.

Oral Exams

Oral Exams will consist of two informal conversations in your instructor's office, for which you are strongly encouraged to practice, e.g. by going to conversation hours. You may sign up to take the oral exams individually (in which case it will consist of a 5-8 minute conversation) or in pairs (10-15 minute conversation) or groups of three (15-20 minute conversation). You may retake each of the two oral exams ONCE if you are not satisfied with how you did!

Advice and Resources

  • Try Duolingo (for daily practice) or HelloTalk (to chat or exchange messages with native speakers). Click here for descriptions of these apps!
  • There is endless potential for having fun in foreign language classes. Make up interesting sentences. Be playful. Get to know fun facts about your fellow students!
  • ASK QUESTIONS!! For every question you ask, there are likely to be several people in the class who will be grateful you asked it.
  • Take a look at the "Reading Strategies" page on the course website. Above all: (1) Skim texts once before you read them thoroughly. This will save you a lot of time: it is the first thing you will hear in any speedreading course. (2) Fight the urge to look up every unfamiliar word. Use your knowledge and common sense to help you fill in the gaps. Remember how efficiently you do this in English e.g. when you are having a conversation in a noisy place! If you know what the word probably means, don't look it up unless what you read or hear later proves that your guess must have been wrong.
  • Look at essays as a way to try out words and constructions you have learned [this is also likely to improve your grade!]. Avoid translating from English!
  • Find a study partner in your section or in another section of the course. You'll have more fun, you can share pizza (or Bratwurst), two heads are better than one, and you never learn a thing as well as when you try to explain it to someone else. There is abundant research data to show that students who work in study groups are more successful language learners.
  • Set aside a time every day to think in German about what you are doing ("Ich stehe auf. Ich putze mir die Zähne. Ich bin der/die Beste..."). This can be fun, requires no time, and is great practice for the oral exams. Look up words for things you care about.
  • Find German TV shows online.
  • Try some of the other "Self-Study Advice" on the Course Website.


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