German Language in Context: Independent Abroad III

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Course Information
German Language
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Completion of IES Abroad’s GR 351 Independent Abroad I 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 develop independence and autonomy so that, when communication does break down, they have enough tools at their disposal to resolve these challenges on their own.  Students should welcome correction and guidance from their instructors, hosts, and others in the community as they progress. They will also begin to recognize their own and their peers’ errors.

By the end of this course, students will begin to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They will be creative, more spontaneous and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, and express their opinions, likes, and dislikes in the culture. Although students will still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, they are much more likely to resolve these on their own. Students will understand a variety of colloquial expressions and slang, and will be able 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 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 be able to identify and describe 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 be able to discuss the validity of their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and values by contrasting and comparing them with those of the host cultures.
    3. Students will be able to interpret gestures and body language, and they will integrate some of those nonverbal actions into their interactions with native speakers. 
    4. Students will know how to meet socio-cultural norms in a variety of transactional events.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand most 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 be able to understand most 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 a wide range of 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, initiate, and respond actively in a wide variety of interactions (field studies, interviews, community interaction, CORE).
    3. Students will be able to narrate sequences of events with a notable degree of accuracy.
    4. Students will be able to give presentations on topics related to the host culture.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand a wide variety of articles, stories, and online texts using background knowledge to aid their comprehension.
    2. Students will be able to read and understand the key ideas of academic texts on familiar topics with assistance. 
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to meet most 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 an increasing degree of grammatical and lexical accuracy.
    3. Students will be able to edit their own and their peers’ writing for common errors
Method of presentation: 

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

Required work and form of assessment: 

Quiz 1 - 15%
Quiz 2 - 15%   
Class project (including oral presentation and written assignments) - 25%
Participation and homework - 25%
Final exam - 20%

Freiburg Project
The Freiburg Project takes place during the German class Intensive Phase. Its goal is to give the students a first-hand experience of the town they will spend the next few months living and studying in. 

Furthermore, it is meant to help the students find their way around Freiburg and feel more comfortable using the German language in everyday situations.

Students will be divided in groups. Each group will receive a set of questions and assignments.They will have to get in contact with locals and conduct interviews in German, find out about places and buildings relevant for Freiburg’s history or culture. Upon their return from the tour, students will have to write an essay on their observations comparing cultural impressions and intercultural observations between their home culture and the Freiburg culture. 

The Berlin Project
The Berlin Project is an integral part of the German classes. On their week long field study trip to Berlin and Prague, students are given 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.

The topic of this course project is The Jewish Museum. This may alter across the semesters and may include, 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. Students will for example read poems by Jewish authors.   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 on site), as well as in discussions during class. Returning from the Field Trip to Berlin and Prague, the students will have to present their findings in class and hand in the booklet with their notes. The notes and presentation will be graded by the teacher and count towards the participation grade.   Class Project (Newspaper 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 every student will work on a topic of his/her interest, e.g. “Freiburg and its Münster”, “My favourite places”. Students will then contribute a one or two page newspaper article 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
    • Talking about personal identity
  2. Grammatical:
    • Local prepositions
    • Verb valency
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Getting to know each other
    • “Typically Freiburg”
  4. Culture:
  • "Decoding Freiburg”
  • Information about Freiburg
Interviewing classmates in order to get to know each other   Asking about motivation for learning German   Written assignment: learner's bio   Field study: More about Freiburg    Field study: Berlin Project “Jewish Museum” I.A., I.C., I.D. II.A, II.B. III.A., IV.A.,  IV.B., V.A

Week 2

Field Trip Berlin-Prague

Field study: Berlin Project “Jewish Museum”

Written assignment: "Jewish Museum" 

Week 3

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about the Field Trip 
    • Relating about things in the past
    • Discussion: proposition, rejection, acceptance
  2. Grammatical:
    • Review: past tenses – oral and written usage
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Freiburg and Berlin
  4. Culture:
    • Feedback Berlin Project
    • Class project: finding topics, structuring proceeding

Group presentation Field Trip

Discussion Berlin Project

Listening comprehension on Moodle

Class project

I.A., II.A., II.B.,  III.A., III.C.

Week 4

  1. Functional:

    • Relating about places and locations 
    • Conducting Interviews
  2. Grammatical:
    • Local prepositions and adverbs 
    • Grammatical cases
  3. Vocabulary:
    • landscapes, nature, places in town
  4. Culture:
    • Class project: developing interviews, conducting interviews with “normal people” and experts
Interviews   Presentation of a location   Debate: Homeless people   Homework: written summary of interview outcome    Class project I.C., I.D., II.A.,  III.B., IV.B., V.B

Week 5

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about human relations and emotions
  2. Grammatical:
    • Verbs with prepositions
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Forms of communication
    • Human relations and codes
  4. Culture:
    • Understanding cultural differences in communication
Quiz 1   Reading: “Kulturschock USA”   Debate: Cultural differences   Class project I.B., I.D., III.A.,  IV.B., V.C.

Week 6

Field Trip Institutions Paris-Brussels


Week 7

  1. Functional:

    • Describing processes
    • Research on the internet
  2. Grammatical:
    • Passive voice
    • Past participle
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Processes, production
    • Computer
  4. Culture:
    • t.b.a.
Describing processes in passive voice   Class project   Written assignment: Article: first draft I.A., II.A., IV.B.,  V.B. 

Week 8

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about real / unreal conditions
    • Quoting others
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive II
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Money and bank
    • Money and ethics
  4. Culture:
    • Money and bank in Germany
Interview: money  and ethics   Debate: Money and  ethics   Reading: "Reich oder  glücklich"   Class project written assignment:  Article: first draft I.B., I.D., III.A.,  V.B.

Week 9

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about a movie
    • Structuring a text or a speech
  2. Grammatical:
    • Temporal relations – prepositions, adverbs, clauses
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Movies and books
  4. Culture:
    • German Film: "Almanya
Reading: Film in Germany   written assignment: Characterization and  development of a figure in the film   Debate: National identity   Class project written assignment:  Article: final version I.A., II.A., II.B.,  III.C., V.A., V.B.

Week 10

  1. Functional:

    • Describing people and objects
    • Talking about clichés and prejudices
  2. Grammatical:
    • Relative clauses
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Character traits
  4. Culture:
    • Testing clichés and prejudices
Reading:  International chlichés  and prejudices   Written assignment:  Vorurteile gegenüber  den Deutschen I.A., II.B.,  III.A., IV.A.,  IV.B., V.B.

Week 11

  1. Functional:

    • Describing people and objects
  2. Grammatical:
    • Declination of articles and adjectives
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Nationalities and professions
  4. Culture:
    • Professions in Germany

Quiz 2

Review for Quiz

Reading: Das finden die Deutschen bei Arbeit wichtig

Written Assignment: Mein Traumjob. Vorund Nachteile

Talking about professions

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

Week 12 & 13

EU Member States Trip


Week 14

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about Field Trips
  2. Grammatical:
    • Adjectives used as nouns 
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Travel
    • Nations and countries
  4. Culture: 
    • Travelling in Germany / Europe
Feedback Quiz 2   Reading: “Eine Reise zu den eigenen Wurzeln”   Writing a letter   Group Presentation  Field Trips I.B., III.A.,  III.B., IV.A.,  IV.B., V.A.

Week 15

  1. Functional:

    • Summarizing articles and quoting experts
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive I
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Daily news
  4. Culture:
    • Education in Germany
Written assignment: Summarizing and  quoting information  from a newspaper  article   Debate: Comparing  the education  systems in U.S. and  Germany I.B., III.A.,  IV.B., V.B.

Week 16


Final exam (t.b.d.)


Subject to changes depending on level and progress of class

Required readings: 

IES Abroad Reader for German 353 – Kristina Schwank


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