German Courses AT THE U-M Residential College ( open to non-RC students, too!!! )

Courses offered in Fall 2011 (See descriptions below or follow links):
Intensive 1st Year German (RCLang 191/German 191)
Intensive 2nd Year German (RCLang291/German291)
RC German Readings (RCLang321) not offered in Fal 2011
Coming in W 12Cultures in Dialogue: (RCHums334)
(This course is being completely revised to prepare students for a 3 week study trip to Munich and the nearby Alps.)

RC Lang 191 & RCLang 291: Intensive German I and Intensive German II

RC Lang 191 (Intensive First-year German) and RC Lang 291 (Intensive Second-Year German) each meet twice daily, four days a week (M,T,Th,F) for eight credits per course. These courses strike a balance between mastery of grammatical features and development of reading writing, listening, and speaking skills. Warm-ups and activities designed to improve communication skills are implemented to help students improve their pronunciation, intonation, and fluency in German. Progress in these courses is measured by participation in discussions and class activities, performance on quizzes and tests, and participation in co-curricular activities (lunch table and coffee hours). Assignments aim to develop critical thinking skills and creative expression.

The goal of the first-year intensive course is to provide students with a solid knowledge of German grammatical structures, a basic vocabulary, and practice speaking and understanding spoken and written German. By the end of Intensive German I, students can understand simplified written texts and short spoken passages without the aid of a dictionary and they can express themselves spontaneously in everyday conversation. The final exam is modeled after the proficiency exam, but geared to the first-year level. It measures grammatical accuracy and aptitude in all four language skills. Click here to find out about RCLang 191 in Winter 2012. If you click here you can see a sample RC German I syllabus.

Intensive German II covers second-year German in one semester. The goals of the course include review and expansion of the grammar and vocabulary presented in RCLang191 and further development of student's reading, writing, and speaking skills. As in the other RC German courses, all instruction is conducted in German. Classroom instruction includes discussions, impromptu speaking exercises, performance of skits, numerous writing assignments, and listening and reading exercises. Reading materials include autobiographical writings from the 20th Century, short prose, poetry, magazine and newspaper articles, and web-based assignments. A primary objective which RCLang 291 students strive to meet is "passing proficiency". Achieving this goal gives students a sense of pride and accomplishment. The proficiency exam serves as a qualifying exam for the next required course in the sequence, RC Lang 321 (German Readings).

RC Lang 311, "Accelerated Review" (4 credits), Offered in some Fall semesters (as necessary).

This course is designed for students, whose linguistic skills are not sufficiently advanced to pass the proficiency exam. The course is intended for students who do not pass Proficiency after RC Lang 291, and for students who attempt, but do not pass Proficiency as incoming students, but whose skills are advanced enough that they do not need to take intensive German. Only students who have already attempted the proficiency exam may enroll in RC Lang 311 without special permission from the RC German Program Director.

RC Lang 321, "German Readings" (4 credits)
The German Readings course is open to all RC students who have passed the German Proficiency Exam and to non-RC students with a B or better average in German, who obtain permission from the Readings instructor. RC students are required to take the German Readings course directly after passing the proficiency exam. Students may elect German Readings more than once as long as the content of the course is different. The goal of the course is to use and improve language skills by reading, writing about, and discussing topics dealing with German-speaking people, countries, and culture. The linguistic focus of the course is on stylistics, but there may be review of basic grammar when necessary. Class sessions are usually on an informal lecture-discussion basis; students are often responsible for leading discussions. While exact requirements vary somewhat from instructor to instructor, students are usually required to give oral reports, write short weekly essays, and one longer research paper in German. Readings courses in the past have focused on German Twentieth Century Writers, Four German Novels, Romanticism, The History of German Film, The Art and Politics of Weimar, GRIPS Theater (political children's theater), The Learning Plays of Brecht, Improvisation for the Theater, and Contemporary German-language Theater, Intergenerational Responses to the Holocaust, Intro to German Short Prose and Poetry and Multicultural Germany. In most years, the RC German Program offers one Readings course in the Fall, and two in the Winter. The second section of Readings is a Play Production Seminar ("Deutsches Theater") which has one German Readings course as a pre-requisite. Exceptions are occasionally made (i.e., students may receive an override into the course from the instructor), but students should be aware of the intense work load for section II of Readings.

Non-RC students are welcome: RC Lang 191/291 courses are now cross-listed with the German department!
Students from units outside the RC (LSA, Engineering, Music, Art and Architecture, etc.) are encouraged to elect our intensive courses. To do so, they should get on a wait list in the RC Academic Advising Office or talk to RC German Program Director, Janet Hegman Shier. Non-RC students should attend the first class of the semester. We are almost always able to accommodate non-RC students into RC German courses, but we need to make sure that we have enough spaces for RC students first. LSA students should note that the intensive courses cover in one semester the amount of material covered in a one-year non-intensive course. Non-RC students are expected to fulfill the same requirements as RC students, including attendance at the language table and coffee hours, participation in the German cabaret, etc. Additionally, all non-RC students are required to take the German Proficiency Exam at the end of the second-semester course. Although our courses are taught to RC students pass/fail with evaluation, it is not possible for us to give non-RC students evaluations. Instead, non-RC students receive a letter grade for the course.

RC HUMS 334, 003 Cultures in Dialogue: Crossing External and Internal Borders(4 credits)
This course will have a new topic in Winter 2012, focusing on the arts and identity issues. The description below is from earlier iterations of the course.

In this cross-disciplinary course, we will do scene work and discuss scenes from contemporary German plays and first person narratives that deal with diaspora, identity, and re-presentation of the Self and the Other. We will explore issues related to crossing external and internal borders, and we will ask ourselves: What "borders" die 20th and 21st Century German history create and how did these impact on perceptions of identity? For example, how did the Berlin Wall as a physical border ultimately create hierarchies among dominant and non dominant communities, even after its fall? To what extent has the so-called "Wall in the Head" contributed to or diminished access to Germans and their sense of identity? We will view the role of the Wall, not only as a border that existed between East and West, and a temporal border separating past, present and future, but as a perceptional border that continues to define and distort conceptions of the Other.

A desired outcome of this course will be to achieve a more differentiated understanding of German identity today as we probe what lies behind the “Mauer im Kopf”, examine what it means to various communities who live in Germany, and describe their Self/Other relationship to it, e.g, Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany, Aussiedler and recent Eastern European immigrants.

Materials used in this course will include art works and films, as well as readings from a variety of fields, including Holocaust studies, articles on memorials and counter-memorials, and non-fictional and fictional literature by and about ethnic communities in Germany today. Students in this course must be prepared to participate actively in movement and theater workshops (in German and in English), to take part in an end-of-term show created and performed by the group, and to contribute to the ongoing research and scholarship of the group as it examines course topics and follows current events.

This course has received ISAC funding from the Office of International Programs and it will culminate in an optional partially-subsidized two week study trip to Berlin in May where students will meet with and learn first-hand about various communities studied in the course, and where they will witness theater efforts to spark discussion about current issues surrounding identity.

Prerequisites: Permission of the Instructor is required to register for the course. It is desirable for students to have at least intermediate-level proficiency in German by May 2010; students with no previous language experience, who take Intensive First-Year German in Winter 2010 may qualify to take the course. Students interested in the course are urged to contact Janet Hegman Shier ( to arrange for a time to meet by the end of November. Further information will be available on line at For more information, visit the course web site: