German 101, Fall 2003
Section 6, MWR 7:00-8:20 pm, Van Hise 383
Nancy ThuleenOffice Hours:
Email: web@nthuleen.comThurs 6:00-7:00 pm
Course Website: by appointment
Office Phone: 263-2590Office: Van Hise 847

Course Supervisor: Monika Chavez, Associate Professor of GermanOffice Hours: Mon 10-12
Email: mmchavez@wisc.eduOffice: Van Hise 846

German Department Main Office: Van Hise 818Hours: 8:00-12:00, 1:00-4:00
Phone: 262-2192closed during lunch hour

Books and MaterialsCourse PhilosophyLearning Goals and GradingDaily Schedule


VorsprungLovik, Thomas A., J. Douglas Guy & Monika Chavez. Vorsprung - An Introduction to the German Language and Culture for Communication, Updated Edition. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997/2002. ISBN 0-618-14249-5

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ArbeitsbuchLovik, Thomas A., J. Douglas Guy & Monika Chavez. Arbeitsbuch to Accompany Vorsprung - An Introduction to the German Language and Culture for Communication, Updated Edition. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. ISBN 0-618-14251-7

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Please, if you don't already have one, get yourself a good dictionary. There are many on the market, and any will do if what you want to look up is not too complicated. However, if you intend to move on past this class (even just to the next semester), you'll begin feeling constrained by a pocket-sized mini-dictionary. We usually suggest looking for a dictionary with at least 100,000 entries. Here are a few suggestions, starting with the department's standard recommendation and two other common choices:
WörterbuchHarper-Collins Concise German Dictionary
With over 195,000 entries and the cheapest of the mid-size dictionaries, this one is the standard recommendation for German courses here at the UW.

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WörterbuchKlett's Modern German and English Dictionary
A very new edition, and although I haven't personally used it, the inclusion of modern (i.e. computer-related and other) vocabulary sounds promising.

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WörterbuchWebster's New World German Dictionary
A good, solid dictionary with lots of entries and easy-to-read explanations.

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The only dictionaries I personally do not recommend are the normal paperback-sized Bantam New College German Dictionary, and the Langenscheidt mini-mini-mini paperback dictionary. Although you may be able to get through this semester with something like that, you'll find yourself falling behind in terms of vocabulary and mismatched meanings, and by next semester you'll need to purchase a different one, so please consider spending a little extra now, and save yourself the headache.

Books and MaterialsCourse PhilosophyLearning Goals and GradingDaily Schedule

What every student should know and consider

You are a German 101 student at the UW-Madison, which has a foreign-language entrance requirement of 2 years of high-school instruction or the equivalent. That means you must have had a foreign-language class in secondary school. Two issues arise as a result.


Since you are in first-semester German, most likely the foreign language you took in secondary school was not German. If it was, please consult with your teacher immediately to make sure you are placed correctly. Some students take German 101 as "false beginners", for reasons ranging from hoping for an "easy A" to issues related to self-confidence and the desire to review. Some of these reasons are perfectly good ones but please, do let your teacher know what your objectives are and discuss with him/her whether you are likely to accomplish them in this course.

Past experiences have shown potential problems such as: (1) Other students can get intimidated by more advanced and misplaced students. This problem is enhanced with "true beginners" who are in no position to judge other students' language skills. Just hearing someone else string together more than two words may seem like an impressive accomplishment. (2) Some students with past experience in the language (German) may be overly confident. Especially in the beginning of the semester, they believe their expectation of an "easy semester" will come to pass. They subsequently do not develop adequate study habits and end up falling behind, disappointing themselves and their teacher. Other advanced students become bored because rather than going through a "review" (which requires more summarizing and pulling together of information), they are faced with an "introduction" (which move piece-by-piece, at a slow pace).

If you are in the class for purposes of review, set yourself specific goals from the beginning, and discuss study habits and strategic approaches to foreign-language learning with your teacher at the beginning of the course. If you feel this is not the course for you, act quickly. Your teacher can probably refer you to another course better suited to your goals, but if you wait too long, it will be impossible to join a new class.

Previous foreign-language learning experiences

Because of the foreign-language entrance requirement, all students at Madison are experienced foreign-language learners. Most experiences, especially good study skills and strategies for language learning, will be very useful to your future success in this class. However, on occasion misconceptions arise. Sometimes students' past experiences lead them to form definite opinions on how to learn and teach a foreign-language properly or what appropriate roles are for teachers and students. And sometimes these ideas differ from what is done in this program. So just to avoid such misunderstanding, please know:

(1) Class time is precious and in short supply. To make best use of it, it is primarily dedicated to tasks which cannot be accomplished at home or by individuals (as opposed to pairs or groups). Interaction, communication, and supervised language practice are part of class meetings. Learning about grammar rules, memorizing (rather than using) vocabulary, and rote practice for re-enforcement are tasks for homework.

(2) The teacher is not a "purveyor of knowledge" but your resource, your expert advisor (both on the language and on how to approach its study strategically), the person in charge of tracking your progress, the person to manage practice opportunities for you, and generally the "program director". Your textbook and similar sources provide the knowledge and you are in charge of managing your own learning by making choices that take advantages of the assets of the teacher, instructional materials, and the class as a whole.

(3) Even homework assignments without a written component such as reading a passage, studying grammar rules, or memorizing vocabulary ARE homework and will count toward your grade. By not completing them, you take away from the most appropriate uses of class time and stand in the way of not only your own learning but that of others.

(4) There are no second chances. Poor quiz grades cannot be dropped, homework cannot be turned in late, and absences cannot be made up through alternative assignments. There is no extra credit.

(5) There are no grades of "incomplete" in foreign-language classes, even under the most compelling circumstances. The nature of the course simply does not allow for it. If you feel you cannot complete the semester's assignments drop the class immediately.

(6) Language learning is cumulative, you cannot ever "forget" what you learned without jeopardizing what you know and can use the next. As a result, testing happens in small increments to gauge problems before they multiply. However, unless the same problem affects the entire class, the teacher cannot hold up the group for your sake. It is your responsibility to catch up. You may want to talk to your instructor in office hours or if the problem is a larger one, get a tutor. The departmental office can refer you to appropriate services.

(7) Because of the cumulative nature of language learning, there are no large exams, no midterms, and no final. While generally considered an attractive feature of the course, it also means that you cannot hope to make a big comeback at the end of the course.

(8) Regular attendance and punctual arrival to class are mandatory and count toward your grade. There may be regrettable circumstances but there are no acceptable reasons to forego these essential requirements.

(9) Overall, regular work, good study skills, appropriate strategies (i.e., knowing HOW to learn vocabulary), self-reliance, and motivation are the essential ingredients of foreign-language learning success. If you encounter a problem, address it right away.

(10) Class will come as close as possible to an authentic German-speaking environment.
You will work with "real" German texts (presented in writing and speaking) from the beginning. Please know that "comprehension" will be defined by specific tasks, as posed by the textbook and the teacher. The definition of "comprehension" will never include the ability to understand every single word or to translate into English. Be sure to use the same realistic definition of "comprehension" as set forth in the course. Do not frustrate yourself by setting unrealistic goals. Rather enjoy the fact that you can work with real-life German from early on.

The primary language of communication will be German. German is not simply the object of discussion, it's the vehicle of communication. Your teacher will speak as much German as possible. Please feel free to ask for repetition or clarification when needed. You are expected to reciprocate: You should try to speak as much German as possible, from the beginning. You will learn the necessary classroom and teaching vocabulary first to facilitate this goal. Of course, you can ask your teacher's help in formulating thoughts, questions, etc. and you are not expected to produce language on par with that of a native speaker at all. Your teacher may also set aside or signal brief periods during which English is permissible. Moreover, you may ask your teacher for permission to speak English when absolutely necessary.

Overall, look upon the use of German not as a chore but an opportunity which rarely would come your way outside of class - unless and until you can take a trip to Europe. Whenever choosing to speak English, please consider that your choice contributes to the class environment as a whole. In essence, you are not only depriving yourself of a chance to speak German but you are also preventing other students from being immersed in a German-speaking environment.
(11) German 101 is a multi-section course, i.e., with a number of sections using the same syllabus. Your instructor needs to move forward at a set pace and needs your cooperation in doing so. The syllabus needs to accomplish certain goals (see below) and needs to proceed at a rather brisk pace. Please know that multi-section courses also need to operate within a language-program sequence, with many different instructors. Ultimately, no matter which section of German 101 you are in, by a given date you need to be ready for German 102, no matter who teaches it.
The pace should not be a problem for committed students but it does not allow for slacking off. It requires constant work at home, conscientious advance preparation and equally conscientious follow-up. At a minimum, fast-paced learners should count on one hour of homework per regular class meeting. Preparation for exams needs to be considered in addition. Please be sure that your schedule allows for the amount of time needed for this course. If not, drop the course if you see you can't keep up, or live with a lower grade. Please do not make unreasonable demands on your teacher or classmates to compensate for your lack of time.
(12) Based on decisions made by the entire group of 101 teachers, certain larger changes to the syllabus (e.g. moving quiz or exam dates) may be made during the course of the semester. Smaller modifications may be made at the instructor's discretion. Changes may will only affect timing and not grading policies. Your teacher will alert you to changes but it is your responsibility to keep track of any alterations in the syllabus.

(13) The Department of German offer extensive extracurricular activities. Stammtisch and Kaffeestunde (great baked goods and conversation, led by different departmental TAs) are prime opportunities to practice German. The Department also sponsors various free talks and presentations - in English or German - related to various issues of German language, culture, and literature. Your teacher will make announcement of these events. Please also check your email for relevant messages via the class email list.

Books and MaterialsCourse PhilosophyLearning Goals and GradingDaily Schedule

Learning goals

German 101 aims to help you accomplish the following goals:

Goal 1
To introduce you to the basic points of German grammar so that you can carry out basic communicative tasks, such as asking questions, making requests, explaining locations and reasons, and inquire about the background, needs, and likes of others as well as stating your own.

There will be one grammar quiz per chapter, for a total of six per semester. Each grammar quiz will utilize vocabulary from the chapter and will be preceded by a vocabulary quiz, specifically targeted at the vocabulary of the chapter. In other words, the grammar quiz recycles previously-tested vocabulary. Because grammar quizzes are more comprehensive (they include vocabulary and grammar), they count 4% each whereas vocabulary quizzes count for 3% each. Grammar quizzes will be written so that good students will be able to get full points. However, your teacher knows not to expect the same level of accuracy in speaking. Your introduction to basic German grammar will continue in the second semester (German 102) and grammar will be reviewed, in broad terms, in second year (German 203 and 204).

You will need to build your knowledge of grammar over the course of the semester. You cannot forget the grammar tested on an earlier quiz for the next one. In real-life language use, you need to know it all, all the time.

There will be plenty of opportunity for review before grammar quizzes but please know that you are responsible for your own performance. Be conscientious in completing homework assignments. Do not rely on class to present you with new information - you should already be familiar with the rules (from reading the book and completing homework assignment) and ready to practice and ask questions when you arrive in class. The syllabus is not designed for starting from scratch every class meeting. If that were to become necessary because of poor at-home preparation by the students, the class would soon fall behind.

Goal 2
To help you acquire an amount of vocabulary to express yourself on everyday topics relevant to students and travelers in the German-speaking countries and to understand written and oral texts relating to these issues.

You will learn about classroom, student-life, and teaching vocabulary early on so as to keep the need for English in class to a minimum. You will also learn to describe yourself, your family and friends (and inquire about those of others).

Vocabulary themes will turn to less person-focused topics such as work, studies, holidays, politics, history, and culture in the second part of the first year (in German 102). You may notice that by comparison to grammatical structures, the amount of vocabulary will be huge. Simply put, whereas grammar is quite repetitive, i.e., can be transferred from one situation to the next, vocabulary needs to be very specific for the people and context involved. Anyone who has ever been in a foreign country, struggling to express him/herself understands the difference that one right word can make.

It will be important for you to develop the right type of strategies to master such a large amount of vocabulary. Your teacher will explain more about it but you should already know that the trick is to use associations, groupings (such as by synonyms and opposites), chains (e.g. from smallest to largest), visualization, writing a word down repeatedly, or saying it aloud. In short, the goal is to use a word in many ways, drawing on all your senses. and to move from being able to recall a word in a specific context (e.g., the grouping or in association) to being able to recall it randomly, out of context.

Please know that vocabulary lists are NOT the way to go. Rather, put each word (and its associated features such as the article and plural ending for nouns or irregular past forms for verbs) on a separate vocabulary card. With lists, students often recall where on the page the word was listed, without being able to tell what it is. An index card system allows you to study words from front to back (English to German) and in reverse; to group according to varying principles; and ultimately, to test your knowledge of vocabulary randomly. Some students also like to use visual principles, such as writing feminine nouns on pink or red cards, masculine nouns on blue cards, and neuter nouns on yellow, green, or white cards.

For you to better manage the great number of words, there will be a grammar quiz for every chapter. There will be no cumulative testing although the same words may recur on the same chapter's grammar quiz. You will also play lots of fun vocabulary games in class. However, please do not let these mislead you into believing that you do not need to study/memorize these words at home.

Goal 3
To introduce you to cultural issues most immediately relevant to students of German and travelers to German-speaking countries.

"Culture" will come to you in direct and unadulterated form, through texts written by (German) native speakers for native speakers, and through video and audio recordings of German speakers interacting with each other. As explained above, you may find this difficult at first but it will appear less so if you approach these texts with the appropriate expectations, e.g., to understand the gist and not the details.

There will also be cultural notes in English to provide background information. Every three chapters, there is a special section dedicated to the use of German in the professions, called Deutsch im Beruf.

In general, the basic assumption is that culture and language cannot be separated. To use the language appropriately, you need to understand the cultural context in which language happens. Besides covering topics such as mutual German and American stereotypes, student and family life in Germany, and German immigration to North America, you will also learn about specific language-use issues, such as what do German consider rude and how and when does one distinguish between formal and informal forms address.

Goal 4
Integrate all four language skills from the beginning: Reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Most students take foreign-language classes because they want to speak the language. However, speaking entails listening. And communication also happens through written media - writing and reading. Really, to function in a German-speaking environment - even "just" as an "educated tourist" - you need all four skills. Clearly, levels of accuracy will be higher in written than oral production. Time to think, plan, and revise can make a critical difference. However, your writing abilities - which will exceed your speaking abilities - can encourage you to grow. Keep in mind: what you can write today, you can say tomorrow. Similarly, what you can comprehend (when listening or reading) certainly can be more complex than what you can produce yourself (when speaking or writing). However, again, comprehension is a guide toward future production. Language spoken or written by others also provides good models for your own production. Always be on the lookout for "useful phrases or expressions".

As explained earlier, written, video and audio texts will be part of the curriculum from the beginning. Be aware of the gap between what you can understand and what you can produce and what you can produce in writing and in speaking and set your expectations accordingly. Your teacher will, too.

Production will be tested through the grammar and vocabulary quizzes described above but also in oral projects and writing assignments.

Oral projects will most likely not be exams in the traditional sense. They can be interviews, recitations, performances, role plays, or involve any other type of oral production. You will be able to prepare to a certain extent. Your teacher will explain the tasks and grading policy as the time comes. You can see in the syllabus that two separate full-class time periods have been set aside for the oral projects. Please be sure to take note of where and when the oral projects will take place. They may happen outside the regular classroom. Please be sure to write down where you have to be and when. Not being at the appointed place at the appointed time may result in a zero score.

Because you will work with reading texts throughout the semester, the semester will conclude with a reading exam. The reading exam will follow the typical structure of working with texts in the book, i.e., contain pre-reading activities as well as activities to complete while and after reading.

To reflect ongoing training in listening comprehension, vocabulary and grammar quizzes will contain listening comprehension portions in which you may be asked to produce whole-sentence or single-word responses or identify the correct choice in a group of possible responses.

Quizzes focus on language on the micro-level. They really do not aim for you to produce creatively or to produce real texts. To accommodate your creative side and to encourage you to think beyond the sentence-level, e.g. to develop an understanding of what makes a German text coherent (in content) and cohesive (in linguistic devices, such as "first, second, third" or "then", "because", etc.), you will be asked to complete more comprehensive writing assignments. Your teacher may assign Schreibecken or comparable tasks. There will be one such assignment per chapter and it will be assigned a letter grade.

Goal 5
To provide opportunities for interaction in and continuous practice and review of German.

These goals are best accomplished through conscientious completion of homework assignments and committed participation in the course itself.

Homework assignments may involve writing, memorizing, or reading and preparing. Homework can be intended for preview (e.g., for you to study up on an issue to be practiced or used interactively in class) or for review (i.e., to put into practice or expand something taught and learned in class). All homework is subject to evaluation. Your teacher may not choose to use a letter grade system for individual assignments but each assignment will be considered in your homework grade. Late homework and sloppily-completed homework will not be accepted by your teacher.

Course participation is larger than class participation. Class participation usually refers to the oral contributions of individual students. Please know that the quality of such contributions is more important than the mere quantity. Speak up - but say or ask something valuable and of use to others. Clearly, some students are anxious to speak up but nevertheless, an instructor can tell an engaged student from a disengaged one. Preparedness, on-the-topic contributions during pair and group work, willingness to use German even if it means to stretch oneself, lending assistance to peers, and ongoing commitment to the course goals, etc. - these are all features of a "good course participant". Your teacher will explain his/her grading criteria more specifically. Please know that teachers are encouraged to use the full grading (A-F) in evaluating course participation.

Please also know that attendance is not the same as course participation. Rather, attendance is a pre-requisite of course participation. As most foreign-language courses, German 101 has a strict attendance policy. In the evening section, which meets only three days a week, you are allowed 3 absences per semester, no explanations necessary. Every absence beyond the three allowed will lead to a 1% deduction in your final course grade. For example, if you miss five times, 2% will be deducted from your final grade.

You may choose to use your allowed absences for reasons of illness, religious holidays, personal business, or traveling (e.g., before Thanksgiving). Please do know that if you "choose" to use allowed absences for minor reasons and then encounter more compelling circumstances such an illness, no "extra" allowed absences will be added. Do not look upon these "allowed" absences as vacation days. And if you do, realize that once your "vacation days" and "sick leave" have been used, no exceptions can be made.

We understand that students get ill or may encounter other unexpected circumstances which prevent them from coming to class. Nevertheless, being in class, using German, and participating in real-life communication are essential course requirements and can neither be made up through alternative methods, nor can these activities be foregone without jeopardizing the outcome of the class. Some have argued that passing exams and quizzes should be taken as a sufficient indication of progress. Unfortunately, our testing and evaluation methods of language use are not comprehensive enough to sustain this argument. Much goes on in class that cannot and never will be "tested". If you realize that you will have to miss more than 3 classes, perhaps because of a chronic physical or mental illness or because of other ongoing obligations, please drop the class as soon as possible. You will be responsible for the consequences if you do not. As described above, grades of "incomplete" are never given.

Please also know that not coming to class does not excuse you from (1) turning in assignments due on the day of the absence; or (2) knowing about assignments given or test/quiz dates set on the day of your absence. If at all possible, write to your teacher in advance of your absence but be sure to follow up immediately, either with your teacher or classmates. Please know that any gaps in communication are yours and not the teacher's to resolve.

Exams or other assignments missed by you due to an absence can only be made up at your teacher's discretion. Missing an exam or assignment due to absence from class may result in a point/grade reduction or a zero score. Your teacher will show good will if it seems reasonable but you cannot expect to not suffer any penalties.

Goal 6
To make yourself a skilled and strategic language learner and language user.

Progress toward this goal will not be measured in discrete assignments. However, it will no doubt and very obviously correlate with your success in all forms of assessment outlined above. Good language learners know how to manage their own learning and take concrete steps toward putting this knowledge into practice. They develop proper strategies of learning vocabulary, reading texts, watching or listening to tape recordings; of deciphering implicit cultural knowledge; of using their existing knowledge to develop and if necessary revise hypotheses about new information; understanding grammatical concepts and their associated terminology; and properly using ancillary materials such as dictionaries. Your instructor will provide you with explicit instructions on some occasions. Other strategies are modeled and explained in the textbook. Most importantly, however, try to induce the strategies that suit you best from your everyday engagement with materials. Get to know yourself as a language learner. Find out how you learn best and how long it takes you to accomplish certain tasks. Do not rely on others as yardsticks of how long it should take and realize that you may have innate strengths and weaknesses. Find out which ones they are and work on the weaknesses and exploit the strengths.

Many former students tell us that they may have "forgotten many of the details" over time but that the strategies they acquired in their studies helped them regain their knowledge or access seemingly lost knowledge when they needed to.

Here is an overview of assignments and their relative weight for the final grade, in accordance with the goals outlined above:

6 Vocabulary Quizzes (@ 3% each)18%
6 Grammar Quizzes (@ 4% each)24%
6 Writing Assignments (@ 3% each)18%
2 Oral Projects (@ 5% each)10%
1 Reading Exam05%
Course Participation10%

Final grade is based on the following percentage break downs:
92+% = A; 89-91.9% = AB; 82-88.9% = B; 79-81.9% = BC; 70-78.9% = C; 60-69.9 = D; 0-59.9% = F

Books and MaterialsCourse PhilosophyLearning Goals and GradingDaily Schedule