Placement Guidelines

For Absolute Beginners

If you have no prior exposure to German, you should start in German 1 (5 units). No matter what your motives for taking the language might be, our communicative approach will quickly bring you up to a reasonable level of proficiency in all four foreign language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), while exposing you to the links between language and culture, and to the world of great thinkers and writers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Kafka. We hope that your experience in this course will motivate you to continue our language sequence in German 2, 3, and 4. (All courses can also be taken in an intensive workshop format in the summer on campus or in Germany.)

For Not-So-Absolute Beginners

If you have had two years or less of high school German or simply want to brush up on prior basic knowledge, you should enroll in German 1E (3 units, meets three times a week), specifically designed to meet your background. The same material as in German 1 will be covered in a condensed way and at an accelerated speed, so you qualify for subsequent enrollment in German 2. Again, we hope that your experience in this course will motivate you to continue our language sequence in German 2, 3, and 4. (All courses can also be taken in the summer in an intensive workshop format.)

For Students of German in High Schools (or otherwise continuing learners)

Congratulations! Now you can take advantage of your prior achievements and continue with your German at a higher level--it is possible that you are only a few courses away from fulfilling the language requirement for a minor, major, or double major! Please start by placing yourself according to the guidelines below and attending the recommended course at the beginning of the semester.

You might also want to go to the university bookstore before classes start and look at the texts for the courses you're considering. This should give you some sense for the level. (In German 1, we cover through Chapter 6 of Kontakte; in German 2, we cover Chapters 7-12. In German 3, we cover chapters 1-6 of Stationen, and we finish chapters 7-12 in German 4).

Since we have a vested interest in making your foreign language learning experience a successful one, you can always change the level of course that you're attending as long as you do so by the beginning of the second week of classes.

Background Recommended Placement
Less than 1 year of high school German German 1
2 years or less of high school German German 12
3 years of high school German or

  • passing grade in our German 1 or German 12 course or
  • passing grade in another college's second- or third-semester course (depending on total numbers of units awarded)
German 2
4 years of high school German or

  • AP score of 3 or
  • passing grade in our German 2 course or
  • passing grade in another college's third-semester course
German 3
AP score of 4 or

  • passing grade in our German 3 course or
  • passing grade in another college's fourth semester course
German 4

These are just starting points. If you've attended a class and think you might be in the wrong place, consult with your instructor and, if necessary, with the Language Program Coordinator. If you feel that your prior experience with the German language goes beyond the scenarios outlined above (e.g., heritage learner, study-abroad participation, etc.) and are planning to take an upper-division course, you must contact the Language Program Coordinator for a personal placement advising appointment.

To further advance your language skills, we also invite you to become a regular at the weekly Stammtisch or our weekly Kaffeeklatsch in the German Department library (Dwinelle 5337, on level E). You should also visit our website regularly and surf the net to exercise those "German muscles" in your brain. You can find anything from German news and pop music to interactive grammar exercises and e-mail partnerships.


Fast Track Scenarios

We pride ourselves on the quality and intensity of our dynamic and innovative German language program here at Berkeley. There are, of course, downsides that come with this approach to language learning--most notably time constraints and scheduling conflicts. We try to address these concerns as best we can and ask you to come to us for advice. Nikolaus Euba, the language program coordinator, is more than happy to meet with you.

Here are multiple scenarios for a fast track into the upper-division German language and literature courses (on the 100 level):

Scenario 1 (Fall Beginners)

Semester 1 Fall Semester 2 Spring Summer Semester 3 Fall
German 1 or German 12 German 2 German 3 and 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 2 German 3 or German 3 and 4 through EAP in Potsdam/Berlin German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 101/102)
German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)

 

Scenario 2 (Spring Beginners)

Semester 1 Spring Summer Semester 2 Fall Semester 3 Spring
German 1 or German 12 German 2 German 3 German 4
German 1 and 2 through EAP in Potsdam/Berlin German 3 German 4
German 2 German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 3 and 4 through EAP in Potsdam/Berlin Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course
German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)

 

Scenario 3 (Summer Beginners)

Summer Semester 2 Fall Semester 3 Spring Semester 4 Fall
German 1 and 2 German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 1 and 2 through EAP in Potsdam/Berlin German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 2 German 3 German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103)
German 3 and 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course
German 4 Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course (German 100/101/103) Upper-division advanced course

 Language Certification for German

If you need proof of your German language skills (e.g., for scholarship applications, grants, or a graduate program), please contact the Language Program Coordinator to arrange for an evaluation.