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Course Organization


Before taking this course you should have completed German 101 and 102, or the equivalent of two semesters of university German.

Course Materials

To successfully complete this course, you will need the following:

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Course Organization

Course Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete German 201 will be able to communicate at the intermediate-mid level according to the ACTFL Guidelines.

  1. Students will be able to converse in German about everyday topics, abstract ideas about familiar topics, personal opinions, simple interpretation of text, and current events. Students will complete presentations in class.
  2. Students will be able to demonstrate understanding and mastery of a wide range of grammatical structures and constructions.
  3. Students will demonstrate aural comprehension of authentic spoken German about general or everyday topics and social conversation.
  4. Students will demonstrate a level-appropriate knowledge of the culture and traditions of German-speaking countries.
  5. Students will be able to demonstrate command of level-appropriate writing, including sophisticated sentences modeled on authentic German sentences. Their writing will incorporate sentences with one or more subordinate clauses, as well as accurate use of punctuation and capitalization.
  6. Students will demonstrate enough pronunciation accuracy that native Germans who are not used to foreign speakers can understand them easily.
  7. Students will begin to be able to interact with native speakers in culturally appropriate ways.
  8. Students will be able to explain some cultural differences between their own culture and Germanic culture.


This course consists of five units and a final exam. At the end of each unit, you will be required to submit a unit test and participate in a speaking appointment. These assignments will be graded and will help you prepare for the final exam. The following sections explain in more detail other parts of the course.


Each of the five units is based around a German-language film. Besides being a fun way to engage with any language, films model authentic speech and provide a rich cultural context for learning German. The five films used in this course are available here.

Ayamel is an innovative film-viewing platform created especially for language learners like you. Here are instructions on how to use some of Ayamel’s most helpful features:

  1. Accessing subtitles within the video window: Click on the CC (closed captions) icon missing imageand select the subtitle track you would like to see.
  2. Searching within subtitles: Pause the movie, press control-F, and type a keyword in the search bar. Doing this will allow you to search the entire subtitle file scrolling on the right hand side of the screen.
  3. Jumping to a particular scene: Search the subtitle file for a keyword from that scene. Once you find the scene in the subtitle file, double-click on the word to jump forward to that exact point in the movie
  4. Slowing down the film: Adjust the slider to change the speed of the movie. missing image
  5. Looking up unfamiliar words or phrases: Click on the CC icon to make the subtitles appear within the viewing window. Pause the movie and double-click on unfamiliar words. A dictionary will appear on the right side of the screen. You may also highlight an entire phrase. In this case, Google Translate will provide a translation. But use caution here! Google Translate is not always accurate and cannot possibly take into account the context of the film you are watching. If the translation doesn’t make sense, it’s wrong. Your own interpretive skills and a little patience are more likely to yield an accurate result.

Technical Considerations

This course functions best in a web browser other than Internet Explorer. If you only have Internet Explorer, you can download other browsers for free online (such as Firefox, Safari, etc.).

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German Mastery Quizzes

If you are like me, you hate busywork. In this course, we are going to try and avoid it altogether. Traditional grammar books present a concept and offer a number of drills for practice. Teachers usually assign some or all the drills to students as homework. Practice and repetition are important in language learning, but the traditional grammar book has a huge disadvantage because it cannot adjust to accommodate the skill and mastery level of the student using it. For some students, the drills are just frustrating busywork, forcing them to repeat things they have long since mastered. For others, the drills may be entirely insufficient, and the students run out of practice exercises before they have mastered the skill.

In this course, German mastery quizzes replace all traditional grammar book drills. Rather than assigning a number of drills in a book, we assign a grammar concept to learn and a mastery quiz to help you know when you have mastered the concept. The instructions to each quiz will contain a summary of the grammar concept and online resources for further reading on the topic if needed. The quiz will then randomly select a specified number of questions from a bank of a hundred or more questions. You are expected to get a 90% or better on most quizzes. A select few require 100% accuracy. You can repeat the quiz as many times as needed to pass. In this way, you spend as much or as little time as you need to master the concept. You must achieve 90% or better on EVERY German Mastery Quiz in order to complete the course. Obviously, if the task is easy for you, you will be done quickly (no busywork). If, however, the task is difficult, you will have plenty of practice to help you master it. GM Quizzes are worth 15% of your final grade.

Film and Reading Response Journal

Your response journal will contain your thoughts about the film or related topics. A journal topic is assigned for each session, often requiring you to first watch or read in German online to learn about the topic first.


  1. Your journal must be submitted in the journal feature in the course. (You may want to compose the journal entry in Word, for example, and then copy and paste into your course journal.)
  2. The journal entry must be at least fifty words long and include a word count.
  3. Each entry must contain an appropriate image you have chosen to illustrate the topic you are writing about.
  4. Each journal entry should be written in the tense indicated (unless the content requires a few sentences in another tense to make sense). Units 1–2 will focus on writing in the present tense, units 3–4 will emphasize writing in the present perfect tense (conversational past), and unit 5 will focus on writing the narrative past.

You will submit your journal entries for instructor feedback. All journal entries will be graded based on completion, but you are expected to revise and correct errors marked by your instructor to get full credit. Journal submissions are worth 10% of your final grade.

Narrative Writing

The holy grail of students trying to advance to the intermediate-mid level is accurate and sophisticated narration. We will be practicing this in a number of ways.

  1. Crafting sentences based on German models: If you use English as your model for German sentences (as you do when you try to translate word for word) your German will be only marginally comprehensible. If you want to sound like a real German, you need to use German sentences as your models. We do this by selecting a sophisticated and interesting German sentence and imitating the style and structure. This process is how you learned to speak English so well—you heard English sentences and copied them making minor changes to suit your purposes.

    You will find that this is one of the most effective ways to improve your German. The first semester I started asking my German 201 students to use this sentence-modeling system, I had a native speaker living in our home who happened to be my grader and a grader for a few other German professors as well. When she was correcting my students’ papers, she asked me repeatedly what course this was for. I told her as least three times, it was 201. She just couldn’t get her mind around it. She said it was amazing, because “they sound so German.”

  2. Another way you will improve your writing is by adapting simple German paragraphs to make them more cohesive and interesting. It is easy to get stuck using only the simplest sentence structures—sentences that are accurate but fully uninteresting. In this course you will be given a paragraph and asked to revise it to sound more sophisticated. You will revise your sentences by using conjunctions to connect ideas together, changing word order for emphasis, and adding adjectives or adverbs to make the sentences more descriptive and interesting to read. These sentence crafting and paragraph rewrites count toward your journal grade.
  3. Finally, you will write one short Narrative Essay per unit. This is the culminating writing assignment that will let you pull together the other writing skills you have been practicing. Narrative Essays count toward 10% of your final grade.

Narrative Essay Grading Criteria:

Keep in mind that this assignment is conceived as an active language learning exercise rather than an assessment of what you have already mastered. We encourage you to use all the resources at your command to improve your writing and accuracy. There are a variety of external resources at your disposal (dictionary, grammar text, friends who speak German). We are not concerned about what kind of help you get so long as you are in charge and you are learning. You may not, for example, send this to a friend and have them correct the errors and send it back. If someone just corrects it for you, without your understanding why it was wrong in the first place and how to make it right, then you are not learning (you are cheating).

Film Performance

For each unit you are expected to memorize and perform a short dialog/monolog from the film. Memorizing some passages of spoken German is a really effective way to cement German structures in your head. When you have memorized correct and authentic German, you will find that you will draw on these model sentences forever after in crafting your own German sentences. You will be using German as your model for new sentences and this will help you break that nasty habit of word for word English to German translation.

You may do this assignment alone or with a partner. You may use one of the preselected clips from the movie or choose a clip of your own. You may play a single role or switch back and forth between roles. You will film your performance and upload it to YouTube for your instructor to evaluate. You will be graded on fluency/memorization, pronunciation and creativity. Film Performances make up 5% of your final grade.

Speaking Appointments

Once during each unit, you will make an appointment with your instructor for an oral assessment. In speaking appointments you will be expected to converse in German about various film-related topics. You will also have a short reading test in which you will demonstrate your ability to read German with fluency and accuracy.

For the reading test, you will be given a text you have never seen before and expected to read such that a native speaker, who is unaccustomed to foreign speakers of German, could easily understand what you are reading. This means, for example, that you do not confuse ie with ei, that you know the difference between a and ä, and that you understand when a vowel should be pronounced long or short (beten vs. Betten, Höhle vs. Hölle, den vs. denn, etc.). Speaking Appointments account for 10% of your final grade.

Unit Tests

Unit tests are unproctored and have a time limit of 70 minutes. They are approximately 60 percent grammar and vocabulary and 40 percent writing about the film. If you have passed all your German mastery quizzes, you should be well prepared for those sections of the test. It is also important that you know the films well. Each unit test has a listening comprehension section using audio clips from the film. You will hear part of the movie and be asked to respond to questions about the movie. Sometimes the correct answer can be deduced from what is said in the clip; other times the correct answer involves recalling the context in which something is said. Unit Tests count for 20% of your final grade.

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You must show a photo ID at the final oral exam. The final oral exam will consist of a speaking appointment where students engage with their TA in an open-ended conversation that will resemble an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). Students will be judged according to the ACTFL guidelines for speaking. You must complete the oral exam before requesting the final written exam.

The final written exam is comprehensive and includes grammar concepts, verbs, vocabulary, and content from the films. It will look very much like your unit tests, only it will be longer and will cover more material. The final exam is worth 20% of your final grade, 5% for the oral portion and 15% for the written portion.

Note: You must pass the written final exam with 60% or higher to earn credit for the course. 

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Grades will be calculated based on the percentage you earn of the total possible points. Grades will be based on the following approximate breakdown (the percentages correspond to the total number of points possible in each category):

Assignments Percentage
Cineplex Homework and Film Quizzes 10%
Journals and Writing Homework 10%
Film Performances 5%
Narrative Essays 10%
German Mastery Quizzes 15%
5 Unit Tests 20%
5 Speaking Appointments 10%
Final oral exam 5%
Final written exam (comprehensive) 15%
Total 100%
Grading Scale
A 93%
A− 90%
B+ 87%
B 83%
B− 80%
C+ 77%
C 73%
C− 70%
D+ 67%
D 63%
D− 60%
E (fail) 59%

*NOTE: There are no resubmissions or retakes of the unit tests and final exam. The lowest speaking appointment score will be dropped. You must achieve 90% or better on EVERY German Mastery Quiz in order to request the final exam and complete the course.

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


60 German Mastery quizzes (unlimited tries); 35 Reading Response Journals, 50 Cineplex Homework Assignments, 13 Film Worksheets, 5 Film Quizzes, 5 Film Performances, 5 Unit Tests, and 5 Speaking assignments (none may be resubmitted); 5 Narrative Essays (rough and final drafts submitted once each).

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 final oral exam and 1 final written, proctored exam, no retakes. You achieve 90% or better on every GM Quiz before you can request the final exam. You must pass the written final exam with 60% or higher to earn credit for the course. 

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514