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German Studies Program Information
Germany has emerged as the strongest economy in Europe, and the State of Michigan has especially deep economic ties to Germany: Thus German is one of the most important languages for business and engineering. German is also centrally important for gaining a first-hand, fundamental knowledge of the aesthetic, philosophical, and scientific foundations of modern thought. By a wide margin, German is the most frequently required or recommended academic language.
At every level of our language program, we strive to appeal to the cognitive abilities and intellectual curiosity of our students. Our language courses focus systematically on the development of all four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), while emphasizing context and meaning at all levels and in all spheres of the language acquisition process. It is fundamental to our program that all language courses encourage students to explore other world-views and learn to think critically about culture.
The goals for the first two years of language study include increasing the level of proficiency in beginning and intermediate language students and meeting the needs and interests of the majority of students so that they will find the language requirement stimulating and useful. We believe that language learning is and should be enjoyable and stimulating, and we hope that our courses live up to this. Our special topics courses (GERMAN 232) are meant to provide an introduction to the discourse and substance of various disciplines in German and thus become stepping stones to coursework outside of the German major proper. These special topics include courses on German politics and economics, history, music, art, anthropology, film, engineering, and mathematical and scientific German. Upon completion of the fourth-term course, students are strongly encouraged to pursue an internship or study abroad in Germany. The German department and the Office of International Programs provide extensive assistance to students interested in doing this: students who go abroad each year come back excited about their experience and speak excellent German.
Intermediate and advanced courses are designed both to enhance language skills and to explore central issues in all areas of German Studies. These courses are open not just to majors and minors but also to all students who meet prerequisites regardless of major area.
Students who enter the University with a background in the German language are strongly urged to continue their study of the language without interruption during their first and second years.
Placement Test and Retroactive Credit
Students with high-school credit for German who intend to complete the A.B./B.S. language requirement in German must take a placement test administered by Germanic Languages. The placement test is advisory: students may attempt a higher course than their placement indicates without departmental permission, but must obtain departmental permission to take a lower-level course than their score indicates. LSA students who have attained fourth-term proficiency (GERMAN 232 or the equivalent) are considered to have satisfied the language requirement and may elect more advanced courses. LSA students whose first German course at the U of M is GERMAN 232 are normally eligible for four additional retroactive credits if they complete the course with a grade of "B" or better. Students whose first course is at or above the 300-level are normally eligible for 8 additional retroactive credits. For details, consult the Guidelines for Retroactive Credits on this website.
Questions regarding placement and the placement test should be directed to Professor Hartmut Rastalsky.
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