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What You Should Already Know

You must have completed first-year German and one semester of second-year German prior to taking this course (or GERM 101, 102, 201).

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate understanding and mastery of a wide range of grammatical structures and constructions, especially the principles presented in the designated chapters of the course Grammar textbook.

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 demonstrate their ability to read, comprehend, and analyze authentic written German (including a level-appropriate longer text such as a novel), and discover and explore grammar principles and idiomatic language in the texts.

Students will demonstrate aural comprehension of authentic spoken German about general or everyday topics, social conversation, as well as literary German with average complexity.

Students will demonstrate a level-appropriate knowledge of the culture and traditions of German-speaking countries.

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 clause, as well as accurate use of punctuation and capitalization.

Students will demonstrate the ability to incorporate words, phrases, and idiomatic constructions into their own speaking and writing. These new vocabulary items will be drawn from different sources, including the longer text that the class reads.

Students will be able to demonstrate level-appropriate (Intermediate/Bi or higher) proficiency in all of the eight basic language modalities: speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, culture, and pronunciation.

Students will demonstrate enough pronunciation accuracy that native Germans who are not used to foreign speakers can understand them easily.

Course Organization

This course will build on your German skills and fluency through film and culture. You will work on speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, writing, reading, listening, and culture. Particular emphasis will be placed on constructing sophisticated and accurate sentences and paragraphs with the goal of helping you reach the ACTFL intermediate-mid level.

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 and 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: Slide the altimeter to adjust the speed of the movie.
  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 with provide a translation. But use caution here! Google Translate is not always accurate and cannot possibly take into the 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.

Course Materials

You will need the following items:

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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 of 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% score. 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. Once you get a perfect score, you can move on. 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 time and exercises to help you master it.

This course will build your vocabulary using words from the films. You are responsible to know these words, but you will also be repeatedly exposed to them as you take the German mastery (GM) quizzes and participate in discussion boards. You will be tested on these words in your unit tests. In addition, you will be expected to review the genders and plurals of the most common nouns in the German language, approximately twenty per unit. You will find that these nouns are already familiar to you, but you may not have taken the time to memorize the gender and plural. These nouns can be found on the respective German mastery quiz. German mastery quizzes account for 10 percent of your final course grade.

Homework Sets

Homework sets consist of film journals, workbook assignments, and film worksheets. Homework sets make up 15 percent of your final grade. Each type of assignment in these sets is explained below.

Film/Reading Response Journal

Your 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.


  1. Your journal must be in digital format for easy submission and editing.
  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 entries are worth 5% of your final course grade and count in the Homework Set portion of your final grade.

Workbook Assignments, Film Worksheets, and Discussion Boards

Each unit will include a series of workbook assignments from the Cineplex text as well as film worksheets (included in the lesson), paced throughout the lessons in that unit. You may type or handwrite your work, whichever is easier for you. You will photograph/scan your completed work and upload it within the lesson.

There are also discussion board assignments paced throughout the course. Follow the instructions closely. It’s important to develop written communication skills in a conversational way, too. These assignments will help you think about concepts and give you the opportunity to make your own comments and respond to comments other students have made. These three types of assignments together make up 10 percent of your final grade, and count toward the Homework Set portion 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 is how you learned to speak English so well: you heard English sentences and copied them. Sometimes you only made 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 do this, I had a native speaker living in our home who happened 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 that it was 201. She just couldn’t get her mind around it. She said it was amazing, because “they sound so German.”
  2. Writing sophisticated paragraphs: 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 make it sound more sophisticated. You will do this 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.
  3. Creative essays: Finally, you will write one short narrative paper (a creative essay) per unit, for a total of five essays. This is the culminating writing assignment that will let you pull together the other writing skills you have been practicing.
  4. Grading Criteria:
    1. Accuracy: When speaking, you do not always have time to look up the gender of a noun or carefully consider the appropriate case or adjective ending. But, when writing, you can take as much time as needed to be accurate with the details. Therefore, we have high expectations for written assignments and they are graded as strictly as we would grade an exam. You can expect to lose points for every error, so take the time to make this right. You should learn how to type umlauts and ß’s with your computer. A missing or handwritten umlaut counts the same as a misspelled word.
    2. Length: Narrative essays should be at least three hundred words long and a word count should be included. Mark the exact location in your narrative where you reach two hundred words. Since your score on this paper is based in part on the number of errors, marking the location you reach two hundred words tells the grader when to stop counting the mistakes. Obviously, the more words you write the more errors you are likely to make, and I do not want to accidentally penalize you for going the extra mile.
    3. Sophistication of writing: You are expected to use German as your model for writing whenever possible. To keep you focused on German models instead of English models, you are required to have at least three sentences in your paper that were based on the model sentences you have been practicing in this unit. Underline these sentences so they can be easily identified by your grader.
    4. Creativity: the more fun you have writing your essay, the more fun it will be for your instructor to read it. So go crazy. Don’t take this too seriously; just play with the language and see what you can do with it.
  5. 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, German consultation center, friends who speak German). We are not concerned about what kind if 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. Creative Essays are worth 10 percent of your final course grade.

Speaking Appointments

You have two types of speaking assessments in this course. One is a recorded film performance, and the other is a live oral exam. You will have five scheduled Speaking Appointments throughout the course, one per unit. These assignments make up 15 percent of your final course grade.

Film Performances

For each unit, you are expected to memorize and perform a short dialogue/monologue from the film. I can’t emphasize enough the value of memorizing something in German. It’s like building permanent German scaffolding in your brain that will help you resist the natural inclination to build your German sentences with English structures. When you memorize something in German, your mind will fall back on these German structures instead. The result will be that your ever growing and creative use of the language will be more authentic. Keep at it, and native speakers of German will start to wonder why your German sounds so much better than what they have heard from other Americans.

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 for your instructor to evaluate. You will be graded on fluency, pronunciation, and creativity. And here is the really fun part: once you have submitted your film, you will get to view some of the performances by other students. Your film will be graded on a rubric. You can practice your performance live during your oral exam appointment (more below), or get feedback from peers/TA in the Conversation Café. You will have opportunities built into the course to perform a “rough draft” before submitting your final recording.

Oral Exam Speaking Appointments

Once per unit, you will make an appointment with your instructor for a live oral exam. In these exams 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 arespeaking. This means, for example, that you do not confuse ie with ei, 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). You may drop the lowest score from your speaking appointments.

Conversation Café Assignments

The Conversation Café is a place where you can practice speaking in a relaxed, more natural environment. It is a virtual space where you can drop in whenever and for however long you wish. The hours the Café is open will be posted in the course. To help give some structure or speaking points for your Café visits, each unit will have two Café assignments. Take advantage of the opportunity to practice your speaking, get help, and provide feedback to your peers! You are required to spend at least one hour per unit in the Café. You can break this up however you wish, but your total time must come to a minimum of one hour per unit. Your Café participation counts toward 5% of your final course grade.

Unit Tests

Unit tests will be 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 account for 15 percent of your final course grade. There are no retakes of these tests.

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Final Exam

The final exam is comprehensive and includes all grammar concepts, verbs, vocabulary and content from the films. It will look very much like your unit tests, but it will be longer and will cover more material. The final exam makes up 30 percent of your final course grade.

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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) 0 - 59%
GM Quizzes 10%
Homework Sets (completion points)
  • Journal Entries
  • Cineplex Homework
  • Film Quizzes
  • Worksheets
  • Discussion Boards
Speaking Appointments
  • Film Performances
  • Oral Exams
Unit tests 15%
Creative Essays 10%
Café attendance 5%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

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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 or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at 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 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.


85 German mastery quizzes and 10 cafe attendance requirements, unlimited retakes; 5 speaking appointments, lowest score may be dropped; 5 unit tests, 5 homework sets, and 5 creative essays, no paid resubmissions.


There is one final exam, no retakes. You must pass with a 70% score to get credit for this 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