Key Features

The German Department curriculum contributes at all levels of its four-year integrated program to the humanities learning of all Georgetown students and increasingly engages them in disciplinary research in German studies at the upper levels of instruction.                 

Key features of the curriculum that allow the program to target these goals and achieve these learning outcomes are: 

  • The curriculum is content-based from the beginning of instruction and explicitly fosters learners’ language learning and development 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. It is based on a functional theory of language that draws explicit connections between aspects of content, context, and language features. 
  • The pedagogical approach underlying the curriculum is based on a the sociocultural theory of learning that emphasizes modeling, scaffolding, and engagement in interactive activities as crucial principles of language teaching and learning. In particular, courses in Levels I–IV take an approach focused on diverse genres that is realized through task-based teaching and learning with a deliberate literacy orientation.
  • Content, pedagogical approaches, and instructional tasks, and pedagogical approaches are carefully interwoven, so as to maximize both implicit and explicit learning of content and language forms. This enhances students’ ability to become increasingly aware of themselves as emerging multiliterate language learners and language users.
  • 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 while using to greatest advantage their language capacity as adult, literate learners.
  • The curriculum attends to careful development of accuracy, fluency, and complexity in learners’ in order to enhance learners’ meaning-making ability language use through a literacy-oriented, task-based pedagogy. This is to assure continued language development toward the kinds of situated language use and semiotic capacity that are needed and valued in multilingual settings.
  • 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 novel 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 and cognitive preferences and abilities: from private to public language; from interactive to monologic; from being shaped externally and situationally to creating new textual worlds; from narrative to descriptive and analytical; from concrete to abstract; from everyday language to poetry and literary language; from planned to spontaneous. These domains bands of language and language use are explored from level to level as well as within the topics and pedagogical tasks themselves.
  • The curriculum incorporates computer-mediated forms of language learning, including telecollaborative exchanges with German-speaking partners. In addition to fostering digital literacy, these activities aim to enhance student intercultural learning and the development of multiple perspectives on German and American culture. 
  • The curriculum reflects the interests and orientations of learners at Georgetown University. Their background knowledge and interests are deliberately drawn into instruction, expanded with supplementary readings in English, and deepened through diverse reflective practices inside and outside the classroom. All courses invite students to compare and contrast any languages that are part of their repertoire, along with their 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 January 2016