German Language in Context: Independent Abroad I

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Course Information
German Language
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Completion of IES Abroad’s GR 301 Emerging Independent Abroad outcomes, determined by placement test. 

Students who enter this level are able to accomplish everyday needs required to live in a new culture.  In this course, students will begin to develop independence and autonomy so that, when communication does break down, they have some tools at their disposal to resolve these challenges independently.  Students should welcome correction and guidance from their instructors, hosts, and others in the community as they progress.

By the end of this course, students will begin to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They will start to become creative, spontaneous, and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, and express their opinions, likes, and dislikes in the culture. Although students will make errors and experience communication breakdowns, they are sometimes able to resolve these on their own. Students will understand some colloquial expressions and slang, and will begin to understand a wider variety of native speakers from different backgrounds. By the end of this level, students will be capable of achieving the learning outcomes outlined below.

Attendance policy: 

All IES courses require attendance and participation. Attendance is mandatory per IES policy. Any unexcused absence may count against your final grade. Any student who has more than three (3) 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 at


The use of laptop computers during class is not permitted. Cell phones are to be switched off.

Updated information on your course can be found at

Learning outcomes: 
Students who are placed in this level should have achieved the outcomes in the Emerging Independent 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 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. Students will begin to identify at a basic level key host cultures, subcultures, habits, norms, and behaviors in a variety of settings, and they will be aware of the risk that generalizations can lead to stereotypes.
    2. Students will start to identify their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and values by contrasting and comparing them with those of the host cultures. 
    3. Students will be able to identify some gestures and body language, and they may be able to integrate some of those nonverbal actions into their interactions with native speakers. 
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand some spoken communications of moderate complexity (media, speeches, music, conversations, etc.) on a wide range of concrete everyday topics as well as abstract topics covered in classes. 
    2. Students will begin to understand native speakers from a variety of backgrounds and limited experience with non-native speakers, and they will comprehend common colloquial expressions and slang.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to speak on and discuss concrete everyday and personal topics, abstract topics covered in classes, as well as other topics of particular interest to them.
    2. Students will be able to participate and respond actively in a variety of interactions.
    3. Students will be able to give short presentations on topics related to the host culture.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand articles, stories, and online texts using background knowledge to aid their comprehension.
    2. Students will begin to read and understand the key ideas of academic texts on familiar topics with assistance. 
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to meet many everyday writing needs (notes, text messages, formal and informal letters, emails, chats, online forums).
    2. Students will be able to write essays for class that narrate, describe, report, compare, contrast, and summarize on a wide range of topics with developing degrees of grammatical and lexical accuracy.
    3. Students will be able to edit their own and their peers’ writing for common errors covered in class.
Method of presentation: 
homework and daily participation, essays, Moodle, field studies, class project, presentations
Required work and form of assessment: 

Quiz 1 - 10%
Quiz 2 - 10%
Participation, homework & The Berlin Project - 30%
Class project (including short presentation & 2 written assignments) - 25%
Oral Presentation - 5%
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 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.






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
    • Local prepositions
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Places and activities in the city
    • Food and drinks
  4. Culture:
    • Freiburg Project
    • Berlin Project


Interviewing classmates

Reading: t.b.a

Field Study: Freiburg Project

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


Group presentation Field Trip


Discussion Berlin Project





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


Week 4





  1. Functional:

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



Listening comprehension on Moodle


Interviewing International flat mates


Reading: t.b.a.





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


Week 5




  1. Functional:

    • Talking about housing situations
  2. Grammatical:
    • Relative clauses I
    • Subordinating conjunctions I
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Furniture
    • House objects
  4. Culture:
    • Student housing in Germany and the U.S.


Listening comprehension on Moodle


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:
    • Coordination conjunctions
    • Review for Quiz I
  3. Vocabulary:
    • House objects II
  4. Culture:
    • Field Trip experiences


Quiz 1

Listening comprehension on Moodle



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


Week 8


  1. Functional:

    • Dialogue “At the doctor’s”
    • Pronunciation practice
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive II: Advice
    • Subjunctive II: Conditional phrases (present and past)
  3. Vocabulary:
    • The human body
    • Health problems
  4. Culture:
    • German proverbs



Listening comprehension on Moodle


Interviewing classmates: “What if…”


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



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


Week 9




  1. Functional:

    • Newspaper Project
  2. Grammatical:
    • As the need arises
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Newspaper Project
  4. Culture:
    • German media culture

Newspaper Project Week

Reading German Newspapers



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


Week 10


  1. Functional:

    • Enquiring about and describing studies or work
    • How to give a presentation
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subordinating conjunctions II
    • Prepositions
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Job and profession
    • College and university
    • Job-related adjectives
  4. Culture:
    • German film: t.b.a.


Interviewing classmates on work experiences etc.


Listening comprehension on Moodle


Presentation:  “Mein Traumjob”



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


Week 11




Quiz 2




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


Week 12 & 13


Field Trip member states





Week 14




  1. Functional:

    • Talking about Field Trips
  2. Grammatical:
    • Relative clauses
    • Verbs with prepositions
    • Da-/Wo-compounds
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Relationships; Character
    • Family and friends
  4. Culture:
    • German Christmas



Group Presentations Field Trips


Listening comprehension on Moodle


Deadline Newspaper: t.b.d.


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


Week 15

  1. Functional:

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



Review for Final Exam

I.A., I.B., II.B.,  III.A., V.A.V.A.


Week 16



Final exam: To be determined



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.