Contributing to a solid, multi-facetted, and inspiring liberal arts education at UC Berkeley, the German language courses are conceptualized to go beyond the teaching of grammar and vocabulary and involve learning new forms of expression that are also new ways of thinking. Students become sensitized to the inextricable relationship of language and culture, providing a basis for critical awareness of both “things foreign” and their own native culture(s). Central goals for the study of German language at Berkeley include acquiring communicative competencies, analytical and interpretive skills, socio-cultural awareness, and the ability to critically reflect on language learning experiences in order to experience language as meaning making practice.
At the heart of the program’s teaching philosophy is a student-centered and text-based teaching approach where language is learned in meaningful contexts. Classrooms become sites for lively interactions, drawing on a wide range of authentic German-language texts from literature, film, theater, classical and popular music, political cartoons, television, press, and the Internet. Students learn through participation in a variety of discourse modes: from casual conversation to dramatic performances and formal presentations, from e-mail exchanges to analytical essays and creative publications on the web.
Berkeley’s core elementary and intermediate program consists of four five-unit courses and a reading course for graduate students. There is one core upper-division language course (German 101) in which authentic texts from various genres provide the context for refining writing, speaking, and interpretive skills, and a series of advanced language practice courses including the performance-based course German Kabarett, a German for Business course, and German Pop Culture. The program offers summer courses at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced level either on campus or though our summer abroad study program at FUBiS Berlin through the systemwide UC Education Abroad Programs (which also provides various opportunities for semester- or year-long study at all levels of language ability in Berlin or Potsdam).