German Language in Context: Emerging Competent Abroad III

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

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


This course builds upon the skills introduced in the previous Emerging Competent Abroad level. Students who enter this course will have mastered the outcomes of the Independent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, as well as selected outcomes defined in Emerging Competent Abroad.  Among other characteristics, these students are able to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They are creative, spontaneous and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, and express their opinions, likes, and dislikes in the culture. Although they still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, these students tend to resolve these challenges on their own. Students who enter this level can already understand a variety of colloquial expressions and slang, and are also able to understand a wide variety of native speakers from different backgrounds.

Students entering this level can succeed in a range of moderately complex university courses designed for native speakers. Before registering, they should consult with the appropriate IES Abroad academic advisor on course selection.

By the end of this course, students will have started to acquire the subtlety of expression and control of complex structures that characterize Competent Abroad learners. However, Emerging Competent Abroad learners have partial mastery of these structures and often resort to simpler and more direct modes of expression, particularly when negotiating linguistically difficult or unfamiliar situations. Emerging Competent Abroad speakers understand local cultural attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns well enough to make an informed choice about which cultural features they would like to adopt or need to adopt in order to live harmoniously in the local culture. They lack some of the depth of understanding and sophistication of those who have spent more time living and working in the local context.

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 on Moodle. QUIZZES MISSED DURING UNEXCUSED ABSENCES CANNOT BE MADE UP!

Learning outcomes: 

Students who are placed in this level should have achieved the outcomes in the 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 Emerging Competent 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 describe and analyze 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 analyze the validity of their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and norms by contrasting and comparing them with those of the host cultures.  
    3. Students will demonstrate openness and acceptance of different beliefs and styles even when they do not agree with them.
    4. Students will assume responsibility for their own learning by defining their linguistic goals and demonstrating independence in their exploration of the culture.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to identify a wide range of social and cultural dialects of the spoken language.
    2. Students will be able to understand most native speakers and non-native advanced speakers and comprehend a wide array of moderately complex interactions (films, theater, university lectures, radio, etc.).
  3.  Speaking
    1. Students will be able to participate in most academic and social interactions using, when appropriate, complex language including slang, colloquial expressions, double irony, and humor with increasing confidence.  
    2. Students will be able to make arguments to support hypotheses and opinions on topics of their interest.
    3. Students will talk about abstract topics, but only if they are topics previously studied or which they are personally familiar.
    4. Students will be able to understand different levels of formality.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand textbooks and academic articles for classes taught in the host language as well as a wide range of popular texts for enjoyment.
    2. Students will be able to read and understand authentic materials including newspapers, advertisements, brochures, instruction manuals, etc. on abstract topics with little assistance.
    3. Students will take responsibility for the selection of their reading materials based on their own interests
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to write for a wide range of native audiences and express themselves quite clearly and effectively.
    2. Students will be able to write essays for classes incorporating aspects of appropriate academic style with little assistance.
    3. Students will be able to use a variety of written styles with notable accuracy.
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, discussions, group work, private study, field studies, oral presentation

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 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  
    • Talking about personal identity and origin
    • Talking about language learning in the US and experience with learning German (who, where, why, for who long…)
  2. Grammatical:
    • Local prepositions: Revision and summary of local prepositions and cases (wo, woher, wohin) for all categories
    • Verb valency  
    • Revision of Verbs with dativ and accusativ, rules and lists, exceptions
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Expansion of specific vocabulary about
    • Getting to know each other  
    • Verbs with dative  
    • Vocabulary related to “Typically Freiburg”
  4. Culture:
    • „Decoding Freiburg”  
    • What is typical for Freiburg?  
    • Talking to locals  
    • Information about Freiburg Berlin Project

Interviewing class mates in order to get to know each other

Asking about motivation for learning German

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects and vocabulary Freiburg

Field study in town: More about Freiburg, interviewing locals and finding out information about typical and historical things in Freiburg

Reading: Freiburg, “Gefangen in der Behaglichkeitsfalle”

Composition: write an short essay about first impressions about Freiburg, differences to home culture, likes/dislikes

Field study: Learning about the Berlin Projec

“Jewish Museum”, tasks and information

I.A., I.D.,


Week 2

Field Trip Berlin-Prague

Field study: Berlin Project “Jewish Museum”

Note impressions and work out assignments using Handout for Jewish Museum (in German!)

Composition: write an essay about the jewish museum, impressions, history and jewish culture in germany, using notes from handout

Learning about historical, intercultural and regional things

I.A., I.C.,V.B.

Week 3

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about the field trip 
    • Talking about the Berlin Project 
    • Stating an opinion, using new and advanced useful phrases to express a sophisticated opinion: agree, disagree, reinforce, doubt, inquire, distinguish
    • Giving advices using Subjunctive II
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive II: Revision forms and use Subjunctive II in specific contexts
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Advanced useful phrases: stating an opinion 
    • Giving advices
  4. Culture:
    • Talking about the field trip: experiences, cultural similarities and differences with the US 
    • Feedback Berlin Project 
    • Written local news
    • Example of German songwriter/music

Field Trip: cultural experiences, differences to US

Discussion and presentation Berlin Project handout and essay

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects and stating an opinion

Reading: Local newspaper

Role-play:Giving advices

Composition: write short essay expressing your opinion about a piece of news (Germany or Freiburg)

Oral Comprehension: Rio Reiser: König von Deutschland

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

Week 4

  1. Functional:

    • Expressing pros and cons: Learn new formulations and their use spoken and written 
    • Discuss role models related to job and profession
  2. Grammatical:
    • Verbs with prepositions
    • Pronominal adverbs: distinguishing between different structure of sentences with …zu/ dass/ob/w-Fragewort
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Verbs with prepositions 
    • Expansion of specific vocabulary about Job and Profession
  4. Culture:
    • Job and Profession in Germany and the US, differences and similarities
    • Class Project Freiburg: Make our own newspaper, writing an article about a topic related to Freiburg, including interviews with locals an one expert on the choosen topic

Reading: Rollentausch -“Wenn die Männer zu Hause bleiben”

Composition: Write an short essay expressing pros and cons working conditions US/Germany in terms of gender

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects and vocabulary

Partner Interview: job and profession

Interviewing german student about his/her working situation in Germany

Class Project:finding topic for newspaper, structuring and developing questions for the interviews

I.B., I.C.,

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

Week 5

  1. Functional:

    • Talk about being a student in Germany/the US
    • Comparing using different structures and useful phrases
  2. Grammatical:
    • Declination of adjectives
    • Revision, new rules and specific written and oral partner exercises
    • Comparison: Accordance or disparity? Classification into wordgroups, connectors…
    • Restatement of phrases, unreal comparisons
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Student Colloquial language
    • Expansion of specific vocabulary about being a college/university student/campus
  4. Culture:
    • Student Colloquial language
    • Studying in Germany and the U.S.
    • Class Project Freiburg: Interviewing locals, making fotos for the newspaper

Interviewing German and American class/flat mates

Reading: “Studium in Deutschland”

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects, vocabulary, allocate student colloquial speech and its meaning

Class Project:Interviews and fotos Composition: summary of interviews in textual form (1. draft)

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

Week 6

Field Trip Institutions Paris-Brussels


Week 7

Review of the material from the first half of the semester


  1. Grammatical:

    • Relative Clauses: short revision, all types and cases including prepositions and relative adverbs (wofür, worauf../ wo, was…)
  2. Culture:
    • Class Project: Interviewing an expert


Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects

Class Project: Expert Interview, summary of interview in textual form (1. draft)

I.A., I.D., II.A.,

III.B., III.C., V.A., V.B.

Week 8

  1. Functional:

    • Reported Speech 
    • Talking about Ecology/ similarities and differences with the US Talking about Freiburg as Green City
  2. Grammatical:
    • Subjunctive I: Forms
    • Use and other forms of reported speech
    • Text analysis and Restatment, introductory verbs
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Expansion of specific vocabulary about ecology/ vocabulary related to ecology
  4. Culture:
    • Green City Freiburg: Exploring Vauban as a modell district in ecology and solar architecture
    • Class Project Freiburg

Feedback Quiz

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects

Reading: “Abenteuerspielplatz für Erwachsene”

Field Study: Vauban and its residents

Class Project: Peer review Draft 1Composition: Correcting and extension inclusive content investigation (Draft 2)

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

Week 9

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about stereotypes/cultural differences 
    • Discussing and distinguishing, convincing somebody
  2. Grammatical:
    • Passive voice, revision, use and forms of all tenses, passive voice with modal verbs, passive substitute
  3. Vocabulary:
    • Advanced Vocabulary related to the disciption of personality 
    • Useful phrases for discussing and distinguishing
  4. Culture:
    • Cultural differences/ misunderstandings 
    • What ist “Typically” German?  
    • German Movie “Almanya”

Discussion: Cultural differences/ stereotypes

Roleplay: Discussing and convincing somebody

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects

Reading: “Typisch Deutsch”

Interviewing flat mates

Oral Comprehension: See the movie “Almanya” about a turkish familiy living in third generations in Germany

Class Project: Peer Review Draft 2 Composition: Correcting and final revision (draft 3)

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

Week 10

  1. Functional:

    • Talking about Language learning, styles of learning
  2. Grammatical:
    • Causal Relation: Conjunctions, Adverbs and prepositions 
    • Classification, Restatement of phrases, specific verbs of cause and consequence and their use
  3. Vocabulary: 
    • Common phrases 
    • Vocabulary related to (language) learning specific verbs of cause and consequence
  4. Culture:
    • Dialect in Freiburg origin and understanding
    • Idioms: ​Learn typical german idioms and their meanings, comparing to English
    • Class Project Freiburg

Oral Comprehension about the dialect spoken in Freiburg

Reading: “Wie die Sprache das Denken formt “

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects and vocabulary

Partner Interview: Language Learning

Class Project: Last Review Draft 3 Composition: Foto and short presentation of student

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

Week 11

  1. Grammatical:

    • Syntax, overview of complexe syntax scheme, classifying parts of sentences, grammatical structures, rules and exceptions

 Field Trip member states

Practice and Exercises about the grammatical aspects

V.A., V.C.

Week 12

Field Trip member states


Week 13

Review of the material from the second half of the semester

Presentations of the Class Project (Newspaper): Students present their articles, giving a short resume about how and why they chose their topic, how they worked, about their interview partners, short powerpoint presentation with fotos



Week 14

Week of Exams

Final Exam