Key Features

  • The curriculum is content-based from the beginning of instruction and explicitly fosters learners’ language acquisition until the end of the four-year undergraduate sequence of courses. That is, it does not differentiate between so-called “language” courses and “content” courses.
  • The pedagogical approach underlying the curriculum reflects a learner perspective. In particular, courses in Levels I – IV take a psycholinguistic language-processing perspective that, in current thinking, is best achieved through task-based teaching and learning.
  • Content, instructional tasks, and pedagogical approaches are carefully interwoven, so as to maximize both implicit and explicit learning of content and language forms.
  • Throughout the four years of instruction, the program fosters all four modalities — listening, reading, writing, and speaking — an approach that challenges students intellectually and cognitively.
  • Within a communicative approach the curriculum attends to careful development of accuracy, fluency, and complexity in learners’ language use through a task-based pedagogy. This is to assure continued interlanguage development toward target-language norms.
  • As early as practicable, instruction makes discourse in interactive conversation and narration a central focus. Within that discourse focus, instruction incorporates a wide variety of comprehension and production tasks. Specifically, the curriculum engages students in literate language use right from the start, including reading of a complete book as early as the second semester of intensive instruction.
  • The chosen themes and topics are presented through a variety of textual resources using a variety of media. These texts have an underlying slope that recognizes students’ second language processing preferences and abilities: from private to public language; from interactive to monologic; from contextualized to decontextualized; from narrative to descriptive and analytical; from concrete to abstract; from everyday language to poetry and literary language; from planned to spontaneous. These bands of language and language use are explored from level to level as well as within the topics and pedagogical tasks themselves.
  • The curriculum reflects the interests and orientations of learners at Georgetown University. Their background knowledge and interests are deliberately drawn into instruction and expanded with supplementary readings in English and deepened with e-mail discussion groups, particularly during the first two levels.
  • All courses invite students to compare and contrast their native language and cultural assumptions with those of the German-speaking world.
  • Students are encouraged to become autonomous, self-reflective learners who are aware of those strategies for acquiring German that are most effective and efficient for them.
  • Through its emphasis on literate language use in all modalities, the program is conceptualized so as to lead to advanced level language use by the time of students’ graduation.

revised July 2011