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 101--Winter 2015: Kursinformation
Required Texts Recommended Texts
Course Requirements and Grading Scheme Course Website
Grammar vs. Speaking? No: Grammar Through Speaking! Respectful Classroom Environment
Academic Integrity, Essays, Homework Language Program Director
Final Exam, Chapter Tests, Oral Exams Final Role Play


Attendance and Participation Policy and Grading; Laptops & Cell Phones
iLrn Flexible Homework; Vocab Audio Max Kade Haus & MLB conversation hours

Required Texts

ePack: Vorsprung, 3rd Edition + iLrn™ Heinle Learning Center 3-Semester Instant Access Code, Enhanced Ed. ISBN: 9781305126053

  • This package includes a loose-leaf version of the textbook, as well as an access code that gives you access to an electronic version of the textbook, and to the online workbook, as well as various other resources.
  • The cheapest (and only!) way to purchase this package is directly from the publisher. The ballpark price is roughly $150. Please wait for a CTools Announcement with detailed instructions for purchasing the package. Please contact your instructor if you do not receive this announcement and/or you do not have CTools access yet!
  • If you buy the book separately (e.g. if you find a used copy), you will still need to purchase the iLrn access code. The ballpark price for this is roughly $130. This means that buying a used copy of the book is only worthwhile if you can find it for about $20 or less!
Janosch: Oh, wie schön ist Panama [Paperback edition; ISBN: 3407780028] (P)

Recommended Texts

If you want to use an online dictionary, we recommend, supplemented by when the PONS site is slow or you want to check a second source. Note that LEO provides easier access to noun plurals and verb conjugations. If you want to use a paper dictionary, we recommend the following:

  • Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary German (Be sure to get the much cheaper and more practical paperback version, 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

Vocabulary recordings for Vorsprung

  • The vocabulary recordings are available online through CTools

Recommended Text for "Abenteuer mit Deutsch"

Please wait for information in class on the "Abenteuer mit Deutsch" assignment before you decide if you want to buy this book!

Wenniges: Prinzessin Horst

Course Requirements and Grading Scheme

Attendance & Participation 15%
Homework and blog assignments 15%
Essays, Rollenspiel 15%
Elvis Impersonations 0%
Chapter Tests 30%
Final Exam (Montag, 27. April, 10:30 - 12:30) 20%
Oral Exams 5%

Course Website:

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

Class time will be the only time when most of you will be able to practice actually speaking German. There are only about 200 hours of class time in the entire 4-semester language requirement sequence, so we want to use as much as possible of those 200 hours to let you speak. 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!), since otherwise you would only get to say one or two sentences per class, and thus less than 400 German sentences during the entire language requirement sequence!

Grammar can be studied and practiced outside of class, so in order to maximize class time for practicing speaking, we ask you to read about the grammar covered in class before we actually cover it in class. This does not mean that you are on your own for learning grammar! We design class activities so that you can focus on speaking and exchanging interesting information while at the same time "painlessly" (we hope ) practicing the grammar you read about at home. 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. Please ask questions: your fellow students will be grateful to you!

The in-class speaking activities are also your chance to actively practice the chapter vocabulary. Please ask about unfamiliar words, and please try to experiment with the new vocabulary we are learning during these activities: this will help get these words into your active vocabulary, and save you a lot of memorization time before the tests!

Students sometimes assume that learning a language means sitting in class struggling doggedly with grammar charts and drills, but researchers in classroom language teaching all agree that "drills are out" [the title of a recent journal article!] and that maximizing the time for communicative practice in class is the most effective way to teach students all aspects of a language in a lasting way. 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!

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.

  • 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 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.
  • There is normally no need to consult any additional outside sources for the essays assigned in this course. If you do 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: The essay topics for this course are generally designed to let you practice using the language we have learned, and to "make it your own." 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. Thus, you benefit much less from the additional work of looking them up, and you increase the potential for mistakes.

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. Thus, you benefit much less from the additional work of looking them up, and you increase the potential for mistakes.

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 without citing them. Although you are not required to cite your sources, it is still good practice to do so, and your instructor can then give you feedback on your use of these resources. In many cases, this feedback will be positive: s/he may encourage you to continue getting help from the person who helped you, or may let you know that you are using translation resources well (which is a difficult and valuable skill to learn). If your instructor is concerned that you are getting too much help and/or making excessive use of online translators and not learning as much as you could from the assignments, s/he will discuss this with you.

Language Program Director:

Hartmut Rastalsky (3214 MLB; 647-0404). 

Final Exam, Chapter Tests, Oral Exams

  • Please take note of the date of the final exam, and schedule travel plans, diseases etc. around it.
  • 5 chapter tests will be given in class. Dates for the chapter tests are listed on the syllabus! If you're in an evening section, you will get a special syllabus for your section.
  • 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!

Final Role Play

At the end of the semester, you will write and perform a final role play.  It is important for you to demonstrate your ability to speak freely (as opposed to reading from notes) when you perform the role play.[If you have an intense fear of public speaking, please talk to your instructor!] Here are the details of this assignment:

  • 6-8 minutes long (once you've written your script, read it through at a realistic pace to make sure it's not too long or too short. Bear in mind that you'll be performing the script from memory, so there will probably be some hesitations, and that in any case you shouldn't speak too quickly, in order to give everyone a chance to follow along)
  • done in groups of 3 or 4
  • must be comprehensible to the class
  • can be about anything picking up on some of the themes or people that have come up in class (in Vorsprung, in the other texts and videos assigned for class, in discussions in your section). 
  • Your final essay (Aufsatz 4) will be written by your group, and will consist of the first 250 words of the script of your role play.
    • Your grade for the essay will be an "E" if you do not contribute to your group's essay, or a "C-" if you do contribute, but not in a timely manner.
    • Your grade for the role play will be an "E" if you do not participate in your group's rehearsals, or a "C-" if you do participate, but not reliably.
    • The above grades will be given based on the consensus of your group.
    • If you anticipate a problem, please notify your group and your instructor promptly!
  • Grades for Aufsatz 4 will be awarded as usual; grades for the role play will work as follows:
    • Content/originality: 1/2
    • Comprehensibility (including pronunciation): 1/4
    • Structural accuracy and complexity: 1/4
  • EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Guidelines for content of role-plays: Please read and follow these guidelines carefully (a link to them is also included in the homework schedule).  Ask your instructor if you're in doubt as to whether something you're planning to do is appropriate.  Otherwise s/he may have to ask you to rethink your role play or to come up with an entirely new role play at the last minute.
  • Important note re: comprehensibility: a crucial component of this part of the grade is that the role play should be performed, not read.  A couple of index cards with key cues are OK, but you should try as much as you can to perform the role plays from memory. If you have to read your script, it will be hard for the class to understand it, and your grade will suffer.
    • In order to further promote comprehensibility of the role plays, please email your instructor a (short!) list of words you had to look up for your role play a few days before you perform it, so s/he can put these on a transparency and go through them (or let you go through them) for the class prior to your performance.


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***
    • 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," such as attending the conversation hours in North Quad or the MLB. You can make up a maximum of four absence 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

  • We do not recommend bringing laptops to class: 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 you forget this once or twice during the semester and it rings during class, that's OK (it may even happen to your instructor...): just silence it as quickly as you can (or answer it in German if your instructor encourages you to do so), apologize auf Deutsch ("Entschuldigung!") and try not to let it happen again. If there is a good reason why you must answer the call, please leave the room to do so, and please explain to your instructor afterwards why this was necessary.

iLrn Flexible Homework; Vocab Audio

  • The iLrn assignments include activities from the textbook itself, and from the accompanying "Student Activities Manual." The "Student Activities Manual" exercises consist of "Workbook" (reading and writing) exercises ("Schriftliche Übungen"), and "Lab Manual" (listening) exercises ("Hörübungen"); there are also video exercises, of which we will usually just assign one vocabulary exercise. You will get two separate grades for these components of each chapter's iLrn assignment: one combined grade for the textbook activities and the "Schriftliche Übungen" , and a separate grade for the "Hörübungen" plus any assigned video activity.
  • The electronic format has the huge advantage that (for most exercises) you get instant feedback on whether your response was correct. Please take advantage of this feature! For each assigned exercise, you should try the first two or three items, click "Submit" in order to get feedback on how you're doing, then click on "Try again," correct any mistakes, and continue working on the exercise now that you know you're on the right track. You can submit each exercise multiple times, until you're satisfied with your result.
  • For each chapter, the iLrn assignment is the biggest assignment. We have broken it down for you into a few exercises to do each day - but we are not requiring you to stick to this recommended schedule. Towards the end of each chapter, the online homework schedule will say "Chapter ___ iLrn assignments must be completed by the beginning of the next class." This is when your instructor will check that you have completed this assignment. This means that in theory, you could do the entire assignment for the chapter the night before it's due - but if you do that, you won't learn much from it. Success in this course correlates closely with doing the iLrn assignments thoughtfully, so please start early, even if you don't stick precisely to the recommended schedule!
  • For all iLrn assignments, you must attempt each assigned exercise, but you need not do all the questions if it gets boring and you've gotten the point. Thinking about this as you work and stopping when you don't need further practice will help you learn more effectively than mechanically completing every item!
  • You are required to attempt all the assigned "Hörübungen" (i.e. listening exercises), but if you think the textbook activities" or "Schriftliche Übungen" are not an effective use of your time, please discuss options with your instructor. Options include writing out your answers on paper (if you feel you learn better when you write things out by hand), or coming up with your own alternative written practice of new structures and vocabulary and handing this in when the iLrn assignment is due. If you choose one of these options but end up doing poorly on tests, your instructor may require you to go back to doing the "regular" iLrn assignments.
  • Please use your common sense when the program tells you your response was incorrect: you may still be right, or your mistake may be trivial. There may sometimes be more than one correct answer, and sometimes the program may grade your answer as incorrect only because of a trivial spelling mistake; it's also possible that the program may make a mistake. If in doubt about a wrong answer, please ask your instructor!
  • Umlaute & ß: The iLrn interface includes buttons for ä, ö, ü, and ß, but entering text is much easier if you can learn a keyboard shortcut for typing these characters. Click here for a description of options you can choose from. On a Mac, there are easy shortcuts; on a PC, the easiest option is probably to activate the US International Keyboard and use the shortcuts this makes available.
  • We strongly recommend that you also download and listen to the "vocab audio," which contains the vocabulary for each chapter and a few usage examples and comments.  This is available via CTools. Note that you can also access recordings of the vocabulary (without comments) in the vocabulary sections of the electronic textbook (eBook).

Max Kade Haus & MLB conversation hours--making up absences and missed work

  • The Max Kade Haus is the University's German Residence, located in North Quad.
  • There are "Kaffeestunden" twice a week, and there's a "Deutschtisch" (same as Kaffeestunde, but over dinner) once a week, where you can chat informally in German. Don't be intimidated: although you're just beginning to learn German, people will appreciate the effort you're making, and you'll learn a lot from trying.
    • If you tell the Head Resident or instructor who is facilitating the conversation to write down your name, s/he will inform your instructor that you were there; each conversation hour you attend can erase one absence hour.
  • If you go to a conversation hour, you can write about this for an "Abenteuer mit Deutsch" blog entry. Note that you cannot both make up an absence and write an AMD blog entry based on the same visit to a conversation hour.
  • For more information about the Kade house, check out its website at

Conversation hours planned for this semester (specific times TBA):

  • Afternoon/Early evening Kaffeestunde (conversation hour with the Max Kade Head Resident) - North Quad (specific location TBA)
  • Lunchtime Kaffeestunde (conversation hour with a German instructor) - 3110 MLB
  • Dinnertime Deutschtisch (conversation hour with the Max Kade Head Resident over dinner) - North Quad dining hall. Look for signs and/or flags marking the table as "Der Deutschtisch."

Advice and Resources

  • 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.
  • German Lab: There will be a "German Lab" in the Language Resource Center in North Quad, MTWTh 1 - 4 p.m. During these times, one or more German instructors should always be present to help you with your questions.
  • 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.
  • Send cookies, weird t-shirts, rare Bruce Springsteen recordings etc. to the course coordinator. He deserves it.
  • Watch Deutsche Welle TV at the Language Resource Center or on UMTV.
  • Try some of the other "Self-Study Advice" on the Course Website.


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