German Language in Context: Novice Abroad I

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Course Information
German Language
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 



This semester-long course is designed for students with little or no prior knowledge of the language.

By the end of the course, the successful student will develop a basic foundation in the five skills: intercultural communication, reading, writing, listening and speaking to accomplish a variety of basic everyday needs in the host culture as described in the learning outcomes below.

Attendance policy: 
All IES courses require attendance and participation. Attendance is mandatory per IES policy. Any unexcused absence will incur a penalty of 2% on your final grade. Any student who has more than four (4) unexcused absences will receive an “F” as the final grade in the course. Absences due to sickness, religious observances, and family emergencies may be excusable at the discretion of the Center Director. In the case of an excused absence, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the Academic Dean of the absence with an Official Excused Absence Form, as well as any other relevant documentation (e.g. a doctor’s note), and to keep a record thereof. This form must be turned in as soon as possible before the class, in the case of a planned absence, or immediately after the class, in the case of an unplanned absence, in order for the absence to be considered excused. It is also the student’s responsibility to inform the professor of the missed class.    Students can collect and submit the Official Excused Absence Form from the office of the  Academic Dean.


Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve some of the outcomes for the Novice Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below.

  1. Intercultural Communication
    1. Students will be able to meet basic everyday needs using verbal communication, to use compensatory strategies when they do not know the word or expression (repetition, body language etc.), and to identify some basic nonverbal communication strategies.
    2. Students will be able to recognize basic appropriate and inappropriate expressions and behaviors in the host language.
    3. Students will be able to distinguish between basic representations of formality and informality in the language.
    4. Students will start to make informed comparisons between the host culture and home culture.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand most basic statements, requests, descriptions and questions in specific cultural context relevant to them (interacting in class and with hosts, studying, shopping, transportation, meals).
    2. Students will be able to use context to understand the gist of some basic spoken language they overhear, including the media, conversations between others, and announcements.
  3. Speaking.
    1. Students will be able to use some basic phrases appropriately in some everyday situations (at home, with new acquaintances, at the IES Abroad Center, in the community).
    2. Students will be able to express some basic needs by asking questions, and get what they need in uncomplicated everyday situations.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to identify and understand basic sentences.
    2. Students will be able to interpret main ideas in short and simple texts as well as news headlines, but their understanding is often limited to the words or groups of words they have seen in class.
    3. Students will be able to use basic reading strategies (cognate recognition, scanning for meaning, identification of text types, etc.) in order to interpret main ideas.
  5. Writing
    1. With limited accuracy, students will be able to write short sentences and short paragraphs about basic and concrete topics they have studied, such as themselves, their families, their friends, their likes and dislikes, and their daily routines.
    2. Students will be able to send basic e-mails, text messages, postcards, and fill out some basic forms.
Method of presentation: 

Stimulus/response games, oral and written exercises, role playing, homework, field studies, Moodle, class project

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Quiz 1 - 20%
  • Quiz 2 - 20%
  • Participation and homework - 20%
  • Class project - 10%
  • Final exam - 30%

Class Project

The Class Project is an integral part of the German classes and gives the students the chance to learn more about Freiburg, German history and culture.

Throughout the semester each class will work in groups on a topic of their interest, e.g. “Freiburg and its Münster”, “My favourite places”. Each group will then contribute 2-3 pages for the semester’s newspaper that will be handed out to everyone by the end of the semester. The process of re-correcting the drafts and the process of writing will be assessed by each professor.

The results and the experience will be reflected upon by presenting the topic to the other classes. Especially in the Novice Abroad level it will be interesting to see how much the students can express after one semester. 

The Berlin Project
The Berlin Project is an integral part of the German classes and gives the students the chance to learn more about German history and culture while they visit historic sites in Berlin. Its focus is on the cultural knowledge and thus on furthering the students’ intercultural competence.

Course projects may be The Jewish Museum, the GDR Museum, the Holocaust Memorial, or the Topography of Terror outdoor Museum.

The Berlin Project is prepared in class both in terms of procedure and in terms of content. The topic of the Berlin project will be implemented in the Intensive Phase class content. You may for example read poems by Jewish authors if your class project is on the Jewish Museum.

Students will receive a booklet containing background information about the venue of their project as well as directions of how to get there. Furthermore, they will receive a set of questions to be answered while or after the visit to the historic site.

The Berlin Project is integrated into the academic program of the field trip to Berlin. Students will be given a time slot to visit the site independently. For the most part these visits should be done in groups.

The experience of this project will be reflected upon in writing as well as in discussions during class. Returning from the Field Trip to Berlin and Prague, the students will have to present their answers in class and hand in the booklet with their notes. They will be graded by the teachers.








Week 1


  1. Functional:
  • Introducing yourself
  • German for everyday use: shopping, restaurant, public transport, etc.
  1. Grammatical:
  • Conjugation of verbs - Present Tense
  • Personal Pronouns – Nominative
  • Pronunciation practice
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Household items
  • Everyday activities
  • Numbers
  • Colours
  1. Culture:
  • Shopping, getting around Freiburg
  • Interviewing classmates


  • ‘Porträt einer WG’

Field study:

  • Shopping in Freiburg
  • Getting around Freiburg

I.A., I.D., III.B., IV.A

Week 2

Field Trip Berlin-Prague

Field study:

  • Berlin Project: “Topography of Terror”

Week 3

  1. Functional:
  • Review/deepening of Intensive Phase content
  • Portraits of people, family, friends
  1. Grammatical:
  • Verb conjugation
  • Personal Pronouns
  • Articles: in/ definite, possessive
  • Negatives
  • Interrogatives, questions, and statements
  • Pronunciation practice
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Family relations
  1. Culture:
  • Feedback Berlin Project
  • Group presentation Field Trip – discussion Berlin Project
  • Interviews, role plays – see Week 1

Reading/ Listening:

  • “Leute, Leute” – portraits of people

I.D., III.B., IV.A.

Week 4

  1. Functional:
  • Going to a restaurant, eating habits
  • Asking/ Telling the time
  1. Grammatical:
  • Temporal adverbs
  • Imperative
  • Modal verb ‘möchten’
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Expression of time
  • Food
  • Adjectives
  1. Culture:
  • Eating habits Germany – Home country
  • Role plays: ‘In a restaurant’.

Reading/ Listening:

  • Restaurant dialogues


I.A., I.B., I.C., I.D., II.A, III.A., IV.A.

Week 5

  1. Functional:
  • Activities in your free time
  • Making appointments
  1. Grammatical:
  • Coordinating con-junctions – und,aber, oder
  • Modal verbs: können, wollen, müssen, dürfen
  • Verb position – ‚sentence bracket’
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Free time activities, holiday
  • Weather - adjectives
  1. Culture:
  • Free time: talking about/ comparing home and host country

Quiz 1 



  • "Willkommen an Bord“


  • “Sag mal, hast du heute Abend schon was vor?”


  • Interviewing classmates
  • Writing a postcard/ an e-mail to a pen-pal

I.D., II.A., III.B., IV.A., V.B.

Week 6

Field Trip Institutions



Week 7

  1. Functional:
  • Talking about your daily routine
  1. Grammatical:
  • Separable prefix verbs
  • Word order – ‘sentence bracket’
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Words/ expressions/ phrases related to daily routine
  1. Culture:
  • A student’s day in Freiburg


  • “Freizeit … und Arbeit”


  • „Manfred hat nie Zeit“


  • Interviewing flat mates


I.A, I.D., II.B, III.B, IV.A.

Week 8

  1. Functional:
  • The human body
  • Expressing state of health
  1. Grammatical:
  • Simple Past of ‘haben’, ‘sein’
  • subordinating conjunctions – weil - obwohl
  1. Vocabulary:
  • The human body
  • Adjectives
  1. Culture:
  • Comparing the concept of „health“ in Germany - USA 


  • “Frau B. und Herr K. sind immer krank”.


  • „Er/ sie ist krank – was hat er/ sie?“


I.A., II. B., III.B., IV.A.

Week 9

  1. Functional:
  • Talking about events in the past
  1. Grammatical:
  • Present Perfect
  • Subordinating conjunctions: weil - obwohl
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Verbs in the Present Perfect
  1. Culture:
  • ‘What’s new?’ – Discussing (local) news of the week

Quiz 2

Reading/ Listening:

  • “Und was ist … passiert?”


  • Interviewing classmates
  • Interpretation of picture story
  • Class Project

I.D., II. B., III.B., IV.A., IV.B.

Week 10

  1. Functional:
  • Talking about important locations in your everyday life
  1. Grammatical:
  • Prepositions: Expressing place and direction
  • Subordinating conjunctions: dass - wenn
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Locations of daily relevance
  • Countries, nationalities, languages
  1. Culture:
  • Discussion: Holiday destinations – where do we spend our holidays


  • “Wo sind die Leute gerade?”


  • „A weekend in Freiburg“


  • Making plans for the weekend


  • Class project presentation

I.A., I.D., II.B., III.A., III.B., IV.A., V.A.

Week 11

  1. Functional:
  • Private and public celebrations
  1. Grammatical:
  • Verbs requiring dative and accusative
  • Personal Pronouns in the dative/accusative
  1. Vocabulary:
  • ‘Presents’
  1. Culture:
  • Celebrating in Germany – USA

Reading/ Speaking:

  • “Wünsche, Wünsche”.


  • Group assignment: ‘Let’s find an appropriate present for …”

I.A., I.B., I.D.,

II.A., III.A., IV.B.

Week 12

Field Trip member states


Week 13

  1. Functional:
  • Expressing comparisons
  1. Grammatical:
  • Adjectives: Comparative- Superlative
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Adjectives
  1. Culture:
  • Christmas in Germany


  • “Der Kunde ist König”


I.A., I.D., IV.B.

Week 14

  1. Functional:
  • Review for final exam - preparation for the Final
  1. Grammatical:
  • Review for final exam
  • Revising the German structures learned throughout the semester 
  1. Vocabulary:
  • Review for final exam – revising the Vocabulary learned throughout the semester

  1. 4.Culture:
  • German film
  • Review for final exam

Week 15

Final Exam    

Subject to changes depending on level and progress of class

Required readings: 

Reader and Handouts


This syllabus contains a representative course calendar and field studies. Cultural topics and field studies may vary by semester and by season.