German Studies at Williams is a vibrant community dedicated to rigorous study of the German language and critical analysis of the cultural, intellectual, and socio-political life of the German-speaking world.
The German language sequence
The German program at Williams offers five semesters of language courses, each providing a communicative approach that helps students to express their own experiences while also encountering the cultural and social life of people in German-language regions. Our two-semester Elementary German course prepares students to navigate straightforward day-to-day situations, to read simple texts, and to write short, basic paragraphs. Intermediate German I focuses on solidifying the grammar and expanding the vocabulary that students have acquired in Elementary German, while providing more extensive reading, speaking, and writing opportunities. Intermediate German II delves more deeply into cultural topics and enhances the complexity of student speaking and writing. Advanced German generally focuses on specific content, usually drawn from contemporary issues, allowing students to analyze, compare, and interpret authentic and unglossed materials.
Following the Proficiency Guidelines of the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), we expect the following:
- Students who complete GERM 101-102 (or our intensive one-semester Elementary course GERM 120) should have achieved Novice High-Intermediate Low proficiency.
- Students completing GERM 103 should be at the Intermediate Mid level, after GERM 104 at the Intermediate High level.
At the end of GERM 201, students should understand, speak, read, and write at the Advanced Mid level.
- Students wishing to study abroad should have completed GERM 104 (or have reached the equivalent proficiency level).
In our upper-level content courses (from GERM 202 through all the 300-level seminars and tutorials), students are operating at the Advanced High-Superior level in all four skills.
Majoring in German Studies
Majors who graduate from the program can engage at a high level with German-language culture in many communicative settings. They participate fully and effectively in conversations on a wide range of topics in formal and informal settings from both concrete and abstract perspectives. Students can understand native speakers of German from several regions, inferring intended meaning and sustaining communication in a natural rhythm. They speak fluently, using precise vocabulary and intonation to express meaning. They can discuss their interests and fields of competence, explaining all matters in detail, and providing coherent narrations in all time frames. Majors are able to understand many types of texts and media, dealing with subjects both familiar and unfamiliar. Comprehension is grounded in a broad vocabulary and a solid understanding of complex structures. Students are able to present rigorous arguments about a variety of issues, both orally and in writing. They can produce many kinds of formal and informal writing on academic, professional, and informal topics. They are able to engage meaningfully with the social, cultural, and intellectual history of the German-speaking world.