Deutsche Schule Rochester, 2017-2018
Instructor: Steve Krause
Office Hours: by appointment before/after class

Prerequisites: None.

Description: This is a an intermediate level German course for high school students. It entails the acquisition of all modes of communication, language structure, and culture.


Vorsprung is a reference text; the 2nd edition, purchased used, is the recommended version. Supplementary material will be provided by the instructor.

Educational objectives: Learning a foreign language, and about the culture(s) associated with the language, can dramatically open up awareness of the world. It gives the student access to different perspectives and traditions which they would otherwise not have. It opens up a mode of meaningful communication with others from across the globe. It allows students to better understand their own culture and language in contrast with that being learned. It helps us to have a better understanding and respect for the phenomenon of language, a faculty which sets us apart from all other species, and thus teaches us something about what it is to be human.

Learning Outcomes:

  • At the end of the year, students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate basic understanding of German-speaking cultures and people.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate well in German with native speakers and classmates on the topics covered in class.
  • Listen and understand basic passages and conversations in German related to ckass topics and vocabulary covered in class.
  • Read and understand basic passages in German related to class topics and vocabulary.
  • Write basic passages in German on the topics and vocabulary covered in class.

Global Outcomes:
At the completion of this year, students are expected to achieve a lower intermediate proficiency level (by ACTFL description) in German in both productive (speaking & writing) and receptive (listening & reading) skills. In order to accomplish this, class will be in German and students will be working individually, in pairs, and in groups. Students should also gain a greater awareness of the range of German cultures in the world and of some of the cultural behaviors of German-speaking peoples.

In more specific terms, by the end of the first year, students should demonstrate the following skills:

  • Linguistic Skills
    • Mastery of basic vocabulary and idiomatic expressions representative of course themes
    • Productive use of basic grammatical structures
  • Sociocultural Skills
    • Appropriate use of German based on situation and context (e.g., basic courtesy requirements, requesting information, apologizing, etc.)
    • Understanding of conversational routines native to German cultures
  • Discourse Skills
    • Ability to use different discourse tasks (e.g., comparison, description, narration, etc.)
    • Ability to understand and actively participate in various forms of authentic communication (e.g., debate, reports, interviews, dialogues, monologues, surveys, spontaneous conversations, games, etc.)
  • Strategic Skills
    • Use of techniques that help make up for deficiencies or lapses in other communicative skills (e.g., contextual clues, circumlocution, body language, facial expressions, etc.)
    • Development of a wide range of language learning strategies

This course will also provide a learning experience that focuses on the 5 Cs of the “Standards for Foreign Language Learning”:

  • Communication: Communicating in a language other than English;
  • Cultures: Gaining knowledge and understanding of other cultures;
  • Connections: Connecting language study with other disciplines and acquiring information;
  • Comparisons: Developing insight into the nature of language and culture itself through comparison between one’s own language and culture and those of German speakers;
  • Communities: Participating in multilingual communities at home and around the world.

Some of the things that students will be able to do at the end of the course is greet people and respond to their greetings; spell words in German; express and understand numbers; express their own likes and dislikes and inquire about others’ likes and dislikes; express the time; formulate simple questions; discuss their work at school; discuss their family relationships; describe themselves, other people, and objects in simple terms; describe their activities and those of others in the present moment, the near future, and the past; discuss shopping and clothing in simple terms; make simple contrasts between customs in the U.S. and other German-speaking countries; read simple texts on topics familiar to them; write simple texts using simple language.

Assessment of objectives: A variety of modes of communication are used to ascertain successful progress toward the course objectives. A basic understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and target language cultural awareness is assessed through daily classroom participation (both oral and written), weekly completion of written, contextualized homework, degree of success in a final oral interview (measured in an integrative/holistic fashion by rubric), and degrees of success in regular brief quizzes. Quizzes typically employ both analytic and integrative tasks. Learners who do not indicate successful progress toward the noted educational objectives are notified at least midway through the term.

Attendance: Class attendance is important. Students are responsible for obtaining information about work missed during absences. It is highly recommended that students exchange phone numbers in class for this purpose.

Extended absences of more than two consecutive class meetings should be reported to the instructor by email. Students who arrive late should expect to join in the current activity.

Academic Misconduct: Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and misrepresentation, is not allowed.

Mechanics of the course:

Portfolio: Rather than focus on extensive homework activities (e.g. grammar activities, worksheets), the main focus of work over the course of the years will be in building a portfolio (physical or digital) of projects accomplished. These will include but are not limited to: two translation projects (one in the fall, one in the spring), short writing pieces, skits, a children’s book in German, a travel brochure, and one more group projects (likely video or other multimedia).

Homework: Limited homework is assigned after most class meetings. The homework assignments are noted on the board each meeting and will frequently point to the class website or to a Google Classes page. Be prepared to orally respond about previous work in class. Please check over your returned homework. Errors may have been marked, but not corrected for you. It is your responsibility to come up with the correct answers. It is a good idea to monitor your own work after you complete it to the best of your ability. Frequently revised versions of written homework are to be incorporated into the portfolio.

Quizzes: Additional quizzes may (will!) be given at the instructor’s discretion. These will tend to be brief announced or “pop” vocabulary and grammar quizzes.

Duolingo: Students should sign up for a free account at Duolingo and enroll in German, if they have not done so already, and then communicate their starting level/point to the instructor at the beginning of the year. Weekly goals will be addressed, but as a baseline, at minimum three new lessons (in contrast to review) should be accomplished per week.

Midterm and Final Assessment: These are comprehensive, open-book, and take-home, covering all materials in the course. They may contain an oral component; the schedule dates for each are TBA.

The class routine: The instructor will speak German in class. At times you will not understand every word. Do not be distressed by this. It is normal. Simply keep listening for words that you recognize. Most of the time these words will provide you with the cues you need to understand what is going on. Gradually you will understand more and more when you make the effort to listen carefully. A good language learner is a willing guesser who accepts the uncertainty of not knowing every single word.

The activities in the classroom are mainly concerned with the acquisition of active communication skills. Students are therefore encouraged to prepare oral assignments carefully in order to be able to participate freely in discussions. In addition, it is a good idea to try out newly learned phrases on classmates or other German-speaking acquaintances. You should bear in mind that even the most conscientious learning of all grammar concepts and vocabulary, which is also important, will not suffice; meaningful practice (i.e. real communicative situations) is of major importance. Consequently, working regularly with a partner is very helpful–and can be enjoyable.

Aside from the regular written material/books you have, you are responsible for the words and phrases which the instructor puts on the board. You should have a vocabulary notebook or, preferably, a set of note/index cards, which you review on a regular basis. This will make your life simpler. One of the greatest keys to acquiring a foreign language is to make it a habit. Make your language review a somewhat brief but frequent habit.

Cell phones and laptops off, please: their use is not allowed during class unless required for an activity