Dear New and Prospective Students,
Welcome to the website of the RC German program! The RC German program is one of the original four language programs in the RC, alongside French, Spanish, and Russian. Our program has existed since the first year of the Residential College at the University of Michigan. We have the same high German proficiency standards and having "Proficient in German" stamped on your transcript is something to be proud of.
You may have studied some German and placed into the program or perhaps you've never studied German in your life, but in either case, we hope that you will take a look at our web site to get an idea of some of the terrific features of our German Program.
The RC German Program was singled out in the 2007 Newsweek Magazine Kaplan College Resource Guide, as one of the reasons that the U-M Residential College "truly stands out." (Kaplan College Resource Guide, 2007 Edition, p. 186). The RC German Program is small & personal; it is also the oldest German profiiciency program in the country. We offer students many ways to actively learn German and each year we find new ways for students to get to know German culture today. In Fall 2006, for example, 11 German artists (film makers, hip hop musicians, and break dancers) spent one week in residence in the RC German Program. We also have an established German theater company (RC Deutsches Theater), which stages multi-media productions in German and travels to Germany every year to see outstanding productions. In Germany, even the smallest grassroots theaters present high-quality, professional performances. But the program is also great for students who are just interested in our own local regular activities like the daily RC German lunch table, the weekly Kaffeestunde, film screenings, and more.
Don't worry if you've never studied German before. We know how to work closely with you to make your learning go as smoothly as possible. Students find that by the fifth week there is no difference between learners who have studied the language before and those who haven't. But just to make sure our students feel comfortable in the group, they also have the option of starting German in the Winter semester with other true beginning students. (Another bonus in starting in the winter is that this allows students to get more of their degree requirements finished in their first semester at college.) One of the most common claims in our students' evaluations is that they are surprised how much fun they had in the RC German Program. Students are often surprised (though we aren't!) that German is so easy to learn. Since English is a Germanic language, we help you see the parallels so that you can start speaking German right away and build up a good working vocabulary quickly. Also, many students in the program become friends and students often view the program's teachers as their mentors while they are students at the university and even after college.
The instructors in our program are Karein Goertz, Erica Paslick, and myself (Janet Hegman Shier). We also usually have advanced RC students working with the intensive German classes, so you may have some peer teachers. These students work as tutors and they gain some teaching experience working in classes. Many of these students have gone on to get a Fulbright Teaching Job in Germany or Austria after graduating.
Here's a little background on our teachers.
Karein's areas of expertise are: intergenerational responses to the Holocaust, the City (She teaches an interdisciplinary course on Berlin for which students travel to Berlin and do virtual mapping of the city using digital video cameras.), multiculturalism in Germany, and German film. Karein has experience making films and she incorporates the use of film into some of her courses.
Erica's areas of research are Romanticism, Philosophy, German Poetry, Translation and Comparative Literature. She has taught Readings courses on Goethe, German Fairy Tales, and German Philosophers. Erica also has a background in Physiology and she sometimes teaches First Year Seminars in English on Medicine and Literature. She just retired from our program in Winter 2009, but we hope she'll be back visiting on a regular basis!
My areas of research and interest are: theater of Brecht, contemporary German theater, learning with and through the arts, and language pedagogy (creative writing and learning styles). A newer area of research of mine is Young Jews and Young Muslims in Germany today. In 2006, I team-taught a new course on Cultures in Dialogue, for which all students traveled to Spain and Germany. In 2009 and 2010, a new version of that course will be taught and students in the class will have an opportunity to participate in a subsidized 2-week study trip to Berlin. My classes sometimes meet at a museum or in an art studio. I travel annually with students to Munich or Berlin to see German theater and I direct RC DeutschesTheater productions. My home away from home is Munich, where I serve on the Executive Advisory Board for the Wayne State Junior Year in Munich Program.
Every year since 2000, an RC German instructor has traveled to Germany with RC German students over spring break or in May. These trips have been funded, in part, by the RC and other programs at the U-M. Also, two RC German students are selected to participate in the Summer Fellows Program in Munich; many study abroad in Freiburg, Tuebingen, Munich or Berlin. Many of our students also get a job internship through the U-M German Department. Between the three of us teachers in the RC German Program, we can provide you with ideas for school and work and give lots of support and counseling strategies. Our specialty is working with students who have never ever studied German, but wherever you are in your learning experience, we can make you proficient in German in one year. We are proud of our program and hope that you'll check us out. Feel free to contact us or make a visit, as well.
If you aren't registered for a class with us and you are still wondering if you might want to learn German, please explore our web site and also check out this page. You are welcome to come to any of my office hours for some practice with German or just to chat. My office hours in Fall 2010 will be Tues. & Fr. 11-12 in 112 Greene. Good luck to you at U-M. We hope to see you at some point in the German Program.
Janet Hegman Shier, RC German Program Director