Beyond the Classroom
Resources for Learning German
Successful German students learn through their courses and in other ways. They seek out opportunities to use their German. The most important resources for learning include
Overview: Media & Culture
More than ever before, students today can connect to both past and contemporary German culture through the Internet, streaming services, DVDs, and books. Successful German students take advantage of this opportunity in ways that they enjoy. If there are things that you like hearing, reading, or viewing in English, try to experience those things in German. If you were fascinated by an aspect of German culture from one of your courses, see what you can find on the topic from German sources on your own. This will help you improve your language skills and learn about culture while having fun. Seek ways to write about your experiences in German, such as keeping a journal or writing letters or emails to family and friends who understand German. Also, use this time to add to your vocabulary notebook. (You may be surprised to find that what you learn while having fun helps you in another setting, like a German course or studying in Germany.) Build connections to students with similar interests, and share what you find with one another. The following list should give you some ideas about how to start taking advantage of German popular culture and media:
- Look for German-language music on Spotify, Pandora, or other online music streaming services. Look for videos on YouTube and related websites. Challenge yourself to learn song lyrics and sing along!
- Read online versions of German newspapers and magazines (including Der Spiegel, Stern, Focus, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and many others). A quick Google search can help you locate these.
- Buy books of personal interest or German translations of books you like, just for fun. A good place for browsing is www.amazon.de. You can order books there or through the International Book Import Service (www.ibiservice.com). Many books can also be found through abebooks.com.
- Amazon.de and iTunes also sell German music downloads. Use the Internet and media to learn German in ways you truly enjoy!
- Borrow a contemporary German book from the library or a faculty member.
- Many German radio stations offer streaming on their websites. A Google search for “German radio” or “deutsches Radio” can help you locate these so that you can listen to German radio.
- Watch German television in the WLRC (e.g. Deutsche Welle)
- Some German television is available through podcasts or free video downloads. This includes the top daily German news show (Die Tagesschau). A slow version of the German news is available on the website of Deutsche Welle. A Google search will help you find these and the websites of many German television networks (including ARD, ZDF, RTL, SAT1, 3SAT, and ProSieben). Also watch German television on youtv.de.
- A collection of classic and recent German films and video games is in the WLRC. Make a film date with some fellow students and borrow one of these.
- Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime now offer many German-language options. In addition to original German-language films and shows, several shows can be viewed with German subtitles or have been dubbed into German.
- On your cell phone or tablet, consider installing an app like Zeit Online or DW to have access to news updates in German.
- Try meeting German speakers through social networking websites.
- Consider changing the language setting on your cell phone or social media accounts to German. This is great way to stay engaged with German on a daily basis.
Overview: Study Abroad
This is the key experience for students of German. KSU offers several ways to spend a semester or year in Germany. For students who take German culture and language seriously, study abroad is essential. Spending an academic year in Germany will help with your studies more than anything else. It is affordable and can fit into most students’ schedules with a bit of early planning. Talk to your German professors and the Education Abroad office to learn more.
Of course, students can complete a German major without this experience. But this situation is far from ideal. Studying abroad makes the culture come alive; an extended stay in a German-speaking environment makes speaking the language feel much more comfortable and natural. At graduation, many German majors reflect that studying abroad helped them grow as individuals and become independent like nothing ever before. More than anything else, study abroad will help you succeed in mastering German. It is essential.
Here are tips for making the most of your study abroad experience and using it to achieve your goals as a German major:
- View the experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture. Commit to speaking the German language whenever possible. Seek out friends who do the same, and make an effort to get to know Germans. This way, you can learn simply by living and socializing. The experience just might change your life.
- German university students have less daily homework than Americans. Use the down time to read and study in German what interests you. Remember to practice the principles of “active” learning described above in the section . Also, use your time to explore the world and people around you (in German, of course!).Learning Objectives
- Keep your email, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, and other contacts with people at home to a minimum. Don’t let your time abroad become just a virtual version of your life at home. Take full advantage of where you are.
- If you choose to travel, spend some significant time exploring the German-speaking countries.
- Welcome the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow while exploring another language, culture, and way of life. Recognize that you will have moments of homesickness and “culture shock.” These are normal and part of adjusting to a new culture. You will have wonderfully exhilarating moments too, especially if you make your best effort to explore and live in German.
Overview: German Courses
Of course, the courses you take at KSU are essential for your study of German. But as an “active” language learner, you are responsible for making the connections between what you learn in class and your other experiences with German culture and language. When one complements the other, students make real and lasting progress in German!
Because you have access to German media and popular culture, the chance to live and study in Germany, and many opportunities to use German on campus, the German curriculum emphasizes what is more difficult to learn and master on one’s own. This includes the study of German cultural history, the interpretation of literature and other cultural products, the history of the language, advanced grammar, formal writing, and technical vocabulary. Be prepared to work in these areas and maybe even to discover that you enjoy them. In other words, do not come to class expecting to listen to popular music, watch movies for entertainment, or to chat in German (though these may happen from time to time). To be successful, you should plan to do those things alongside your coursework. In fact, they will help you immensely with your courses, but they are not the focus of the curriculum.
Also, remember that you can visit the German Language Partner in the World Language Resource Center to talk in German about topics from your courses or anything else of interest. The entry titled
Students of German at KSU have many opportunities to use the German language outside of the classroom. These opportunities were created with you and your needs as an “active” learner in mind. Take full advantage of them. They will give you necessary practice in speaking and listening to the language as well as chances to learn something new about German life and culture. They will help you interact with students who share your goals so that you can learn together. The practice you get in your courses is not the same, and you really need both kinds of practice.
At the start of each academic year, your professors share a calendar of German-related events on campus. Ask for a copy or find it online, and use it. The opportunities vary from year to year. You can expect to practice the language and deepen your knowledge of German culture through co-curricular opportunities like these:
- Join the and attach to a German speaking partner in the area.Peer Buddy Program
- Attend the Kaffeestunde to practice your spoken German.
- Attend guest lectures and musical performances related to German on campus.
- Attend off-campus events and trips.
- Seek out international students from German-speaking countries and befriend them.
- Watch German films shown on campus, at Filmabend, or at the Atlanta Film Festival.
- Become active in the German Club