German Language in Context: Emerging Independent Abroad I

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

Proficiency at a level equivalent to IES Abroad’s Novice Abroad, as determined by placement test.


Students entering this level must be able to fulfill the learning outcomes of the Novice Abroad level, as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. Specifically, they should already be able to express themselves on a variety of concrete, everyday topics and meet their basic needs in the language. Students who enter this level may be more proficient in reading and writing skills than oral communication, especially if they have never traveled or studied abroad previously. Although students may have been exposed previously to certain competencies taught at this level, they need additional practice and instruction to move toward mastery of these competencies.  Students at this level may succeed in partner university courses (when offered through the local Center) as long as such courses are primarily designed for international students and/or require passive student linguistic participation (art studios, dance).

As students gain more self-awareness and self-confidence, they will attempt more in the community. Paradoxically, this means they may also experience more miscommunications and frustration. Reading and writing require effort, and many students will need to make a special effort in this regard. Students will also develop cultural awareness and skills to work through the challenges of adaptation in the local culture and learn to celebrate their successes.  They will begin to appreciate the value of these language and intercultural skills.   

This course builds upon skills introduced in Novice Abroad.  By the end of the course, the successful student will have begun to develop some communicative and cultural self-confidence necessary to attempt moderately complex tasks in the language, 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 Officer 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 download the Official Excused Absence Form from the office of the Academic Dean.

Learning outcomes: 

Students who are placed in this level should have achieved the outcomes in the Novice Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication.

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve some of the outcomes for the Emerging Independent 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. Increasingly, students will be able to make informed comparisons between the host culture and the students’ home cultures.
    2. Students will be able to distinguish between verbal and nonverbal communication that reflects politeness, formality, or informality.
    3. Students will be able to recognize simple patterns of intonation and their meaning.
    4. Students will be able to solve some daily unexpected situations and meet needs with limited help.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand some interactions (media, speeches, music, conversations, etc.), especially if the speaker is used to interacting with non-native speakers.
    2. Students will be able to understand direct requests, questions, and simple conversations on familiar and concrete topics.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to talk to a limited extent about persons and things in their immediate environment, as well as their plans and their experiences.
    2. Students will be able to address moderately complicated situations involving familiar subjects.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read passages and uncomplicated longer texts (simple narratives, detailed instructions, etc.) on familiar topics and understand the general meaning.
    2. Students will be able to support their understanding of texts through the use of context, visual aids, dictionaries, or with the assistance of others in order to facilitate comprehension.
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to communicate with some effectiveness through notes, emails, and simple online discussions and chats.
    2. Students will be able to write short essays on concrete topics of limited levels of complexity and accuracy, and with reliance on the communicative patterns of their native language.
Method of presentation: 

Homework and daily participation, essays, Moodle, field studies, class project

Required work and form of assessment: 

Quiz 1 - 10%
Quiz 2 - 10%
Participation, homework & The Berlin Project - 30%
Class project (including oral presentation & 2 written assignments) - 30%                     
Final exam - 20%

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 (note taking during the visit) 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. The performance in this project will contribute to the students' oral grade for this course.

Class Project (Newspaper Project)

The Class Project is an integral part of the German classes and gives 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 distributed to the students 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.





Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 1


  1. Functional:
    • Introducing yourself
    • Asking for directions
    • German for everyday use: typical phrases, restaurant, shopping
  2. Grammatical:
    • Talking about things in the past
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Places and activities in the city
    • Food and drinks
  4. Culture:
    • Shopping in Freiburg
    • Decoding Freiburg”
    • Berlin: now and then

Interviewing classmates

Interviewing German flatmates

Reading: “Der erste oder der einzige Tag”

Field study: shopping in Freiburg

Field study: Berlin Project “Holocaust Memorial”

I.B., I.D,

III.A., IV.A.,

Week 2

Field Trip Berlin-Prague

Field study: Berlin Project “Holocaust Memorial”


Week 3

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about the Field Trip
    • Making arrangements
  2. Grammatical:
    • Noun gender
    • Review of cases
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Free-time activities
  4. Culture:
    • Berlin Project
    • Talking about the Field Trip
    • German media culture

Group presentation Field Trip

Discussion Berlin Project

Making plans for the weekend

Reading German Newspapers

Class project

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

Week 4

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about travel experiences and plans
    • Stating an opinion, coming to an understanding
  2. Grammatical:
    • Local prepositions (geographical)
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Travel
    • Countries and nationalities
    • Landscape types
  4. Culture:
    • Travelling in Europe

Listening comprehension on Moodle

Interviewing International flat mates

Reading: “Ich brauche Urlaub!”

Class project

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

Week 5

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about housing situation
  2. Grammatical:
    • Two-way prepositions
    • Position verbs
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Furniture
    • House objects
  4. Culture:
    • Student housing in Germany and the U.S.

Quiz 1

Presentation “Meine WG”

Role-play “Probleme in der WG”

Listening comprehension on Moodle

Class project

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

Week 6

Field Trip Institutions Paris-Brussels


Week 7

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about the Field Trip
  2. Grammatical:
    • Local adverbs
    • Feedback Quiz 1
  3. Vocabulary:
    • House objects II
    • Feedback Quiz 1
  4. Culture:
    • Talking about the Field Trip

Feedback Quiz 1

Listening comprehension on Moodle

Class project

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

Week 8

  1. Functional:
    • Dialogue “At the doctor’s”
    • Pronunciation practice
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive II: Advice
  3. Vocabulary:
    • The human body
    • Health problems
  4. Culture:
    • German proverbs on health

Listening comprehension on Moodle

Interviewing classmates: “What if…”

“Guten Tag, Herr Doktor“: a play in the class room

Class project

I.B., I.C., I.D.,

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

Week 9

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about a movie
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive II: Conditional Phrases
    • Review for quiz
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Review for quiz
    • Arts and movies
  4. Culture:
    • German film: “Almanya”


“Lieblingsfilm/ Lieblingsserie/


Review for quiz

Quiz 2

Class project

I.A., I.C., II.A., III.A., V.B.

Week 10

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about literature
    • Understanding daily news
    • Giving one's opinion
  2. Grammatical
    • Coordinating conjunctions
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Literature, news, media
  4. Culture:
    • German media

Presentation: "Lieblingsbuch"

Reading German newspapers

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

Week 11 & 12

EU Member States Trips



Week 12

  1. Functional:
    • Talking about Field Trips
    • Comparisons
  2. Grammatical:
    • Comparative, superlative
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Adjectives
    • Looks
    • Character traits
  4. Culture:
    • Colloquial speech / Young people slang
    • “Typically German-Typically American”

Feedback Quiz 2

“Who am I?”: Describing people

Talking about your own taste

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

Week 14

  1. Functional:
    • Enquiring about and describing studies or work
    • How to give a presentation
  2. Grammatical:
    • Verbs with prepositions (I am interested in..., I dream about...)
    • Review Prateritum (past tense)
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Job and profession
    • College and university
    • Job-related adjectives
  4. Culture:
    • Class project presentations

Interviewing classmates on work experiences, etc.

Presentation: "Mein Traumjob" (my wishes, my hopes, my dreams, my interests)

Class project presentations 

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

Week 15


Final Exam


Subject to changes depending on level and progress of class

Required readings: 

IES Abroad Reader for German 301/351 – Corinna Hardt


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