German is the official language of Germany and Austria and one of the official languages of Switzerland. It is also widely spoken in Eastern Europe. Today’s Germany has the largest population and the most powerful economy in the European Union. The capital, Berlin, centrally located in the newly expanded EU, is becoming a vibrant metropolis with an avant-garde cultural scene – augmenting traditional strengths in the areas of museums, music, and theater. Other cities such as Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich cultivate a similar mix of the old and the new, as do Vienna, the capital of Austria, and Zürich, the Swiss German hub. The cultural, scientific, and technological achievements of the German-speaking peoples are known and valued throughout the world.
The German Studies program within the Department of World Languages and Cultural Studies prepares students to become effective readers, writers, and speakers of German, and to more fully appreciate and understand the literatures and cultures of countries where German is spoken. Students must demonstrate achievement in four distinct areas:
Oral/aural communication: Students should demonstrate command in both speaking German and understanding it when spoken. Speech patterns should be well-organized and generally cohesive; pronunciation and fluency should be close to the norm and may even approach that of near-native speakers in some cases. Social and/or cultural references should also used appropriately.
Written communication: Students should demonstrate a competent (and in some cases near-native) command of the complex structures of the German language with limited errors in vocabulary and syntax.
Cultural awareness: Students should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the culture of the German-speaking areas of Europe as expressed in literature, theater, film, etc.
Critical and analytical thinking: Students should demonstrate an ability to understand and interpret written texts in German. This includes the ability to comprehend and synthesize a written text; to develop a working thesis and defend it through proper use of evidence and argument; and to write a coherent, critical essay that properly documents both primary and secondary sources. Students should also display a knowledge of different literary genres, literary tropes, cultural phenomena, and textual analysis.