Deutsch 231 Kursinformation – Frühling 2019

“With every mistake we must surely be learning.” [George Harrison]

Course Components and Logistics

Required Texts

Recommended Texts

Course Requirements and Grading Scheme Canvas Expectations
Gateway Vocabulary Test Oral Exams
Final Video Project Homework
Attendance and Participation Policy and Grading; Laptops & Cell Phones

Course Methods, Policies, Help, Resources and Advice

Learning By Speaking; Language Learning Anxiety Advice and Resources
Respectful Classroom Environment Gender and Gender Pronouns in German
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Mental Health Resources
Student Sexual Misconduct Policy Academic Integrity, Essays, Homework

Required Texts.

VERY IMPORTANT: for both books, you will need this specific edited version!

You can order these on the Barnes and Noble College online portal:

Franz Kafka [edited by Achim Seiffarth]: Die Verwandlung [Book & CD], ISBN: (10-digit) 88-7754-808-8 or (13-digit) 978-88-7754-808-5. If you order it online, MAKE SURE it is from CIDEB Publishing and is Niveau 3 (indicated by the yellow coded edge on the book).
Thomas Brussig: Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee–Easy Reader Series. Oddly, there are 12 different ISBN numbers because this book is published all over the world. Several of them are 978-31-2675-719-5 or 978-08-2192-579-9.

Recommended Texts

PONS,, and Linguee are the best online dictionaries. LEO and BEOLINGUS can also be useful. Click on them in the sidebar!

  • PONS is best for choosing the right word.
  • is easiest to use, has great “crowd-sourced” pronunciation samples, and lots of handy tools (Note the “Wildcard Search” option!).
  • Linguee shows you translations in context and has great pronunciation samples.
  • LEO provides easier access to noun plurals and verb conjugations, covers more technical terms, and has a great forum for tricky questions.
  • BEOLINGUS provides messy results, but useful examples.
  • If in doubt, check your results by a Google search and/or by comparing German and English Wikipedia entries.

If you want a paper dictionary, try:

  • Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary German (Get the paperback version: much cheaper and easier to use!)
  • Harper Collins Beginner’s German Dictionary (Helpful usage examples; especially easy to read and use)

Rankin/Wells. Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik (grammar text), 6th Edition(G)

  • All the grammar you are required to know is in the course materials online, but this book is an excellent reference.
Zorach & Melin: English Grammar for Students of German, 6th ed.
Jones & Tschirner: A Frequency Dictionary of German ( ISBN: 0-415-31632-4) Not suited for use as a regular dictionary, but an excellent resource if you want to build your vocabulary systematically.

Course Requirements and Grading Scheme

Attendance & Participation 15%
Homework (including AMDs) 15%
Essays and Rewrites 15%
Final Video Project 10%
Diagnostic Grammar Quizzes (on-line) 5%
Quizzes (in class) & Mini-Quizzes 20%
Tests including Gateway Vocabulary Test–see below 15%
Oral Exams 5%

Final course grades calculated by percentage on Canvas will translate into the following letter grades:

97-100 A+ 77-79.99 C+
93-96.99 A 73-76.99 C
90-92.99 A- 70-72.99 C-
87-89.99 B+ 67-69.99 D+
83-86.99 B 63-66.99 D
80-82.99 B- 60-62.99 D-
0-59.99 E

Canvas Expectations

We expect you to check Canvas regularly for:

  • Assignments in your assignment calendar (this includes reading the information/instructions in assignments for which there is nothing to submit!)
    • Assignments are due at the beginning of class. The due date time of 5 p.m. on Canvas is only there for logistical reasons!
  • Announcements: Enable notifications and check your email inbox daily OR: visit Canvas daily to check for new Announcements.
  • Gradebook: Please check regularly to make sure you have gotten credit for all assignments you have submitted, tests you have taken etc. Notify your instructor within a week of a grade being entered if you think there may be a mistake.
    • “A&P Tally”: Your instructor will enter a weekly “Attendance & Participation Tally” grade, as described below. S/he will use the “comment” section of the assignment to explain any deductions from the maximum number of points available each week. If you wish to contest an “A&P Tally” grade, YOU MUST DO SO WITHIN ONE WEEK OF IT BEING ENTERED. ==> Please check your “A&P Tally” grades regularly!
    • ==> Please check Canvas regularly for notifications about instructor comments. Gradebook comments do not generate email notifications ==> log into Canvas to see them!

Gateway Vocabulary Test

During the first two weeks of the course, you will take a “Gateway Vocabulary Test” on a list of 584 of the most frequent German words and phrases. You can find the vocabulary list on the Resources site and in Canvas on the Homepage. The test is 100 questions and is timed at 30 minutes. There is a large item bank, of which you will see 100 items loaded differently each time. Many of these words and expressions should already be familiar to you. To help you study, the practice test will be available for you to take online (without the score counting) as often as you wish. You can take the Graded version only one time and this score goes into your test grades (see grading scheme above).

Oral Exams

Oral Exams will consist of two informal conversations in your instructor’s office, for which you are strongly encouraged to practice, e.g. by going to conversation hours. We also give you the questions ahead of time. You may sign up to take the oral exams individually (a 5-8 minute conversation) or in pairs/small groups (10-15 minutes). You may retake the oral exam ONCE if you are not satisfied with how you did!

Final Video Project

Instead of a final exam, we will ask you to do a final video project, in order to bring the course to a creative and enjoyable end. Click here for detailed information about the video project.


Homework is graded on a scale of “check”/”check +”/”check -“. “Check” means the homework has been done well or well enough, the equivalent of an A. “Check +” means it has been done exceptionally well. “Check -” means it has been done poorly and/or incompletely. Late homework automatically receives a “check -“. Homework may not be accepted if it is more than two class days late (see your instructor). We enter grades into Canvas as follows: a “check” counts as 2 points, a “check +” counts as 3, a “check -” as 1, and homework that is not turned in at all receives a “0”.

Attendance and Participation Policy and Grading

  • Speaking and listening in class are the most important part of this course. We will keep track of your attendance and participation by an “A&P Tally” grade on Canvas, as follows:
  • For each class hour, you will earn two “attendance points” for coming to class, and two “participation points” for participating actively.
  • If you miss a class hour unexcused, you lose all four attendance & participation points for that hour.
  • If you miss a class hour for an excused reason (e.g. documented medical, psychological or family issues; religious holidays; family events such as weddings, funerals or graduations; job interviews; musical performances or athletic events in which you are participating, etc.), you will still earn the two attendance points for that hour, but you cannot earn participation points if you are not in class.
    • As a courtesy to your instructor, please explain ALL absences, even if the reason is e.g. oversleeping, or work for another course, a trip, a concert etc.!
  • Lateness: Loss of 1-4 points for that hour, depending on how late you were.
  • Inattention (inappropriate smart phone or laptop use, “zoning out,” etc.): Loss of one or both participation points for that hour.
  • Difficulty participating: The “A&P Tally” grade is primarily an effort grade, but it is also an achievement grade. If you are in class and making an effort to participate, but you have noticeable linguistic difficulties understanding and carrying out partner activities and/or responding when called on in class, you will lose one participation point for every two class hours (or one point for every four class hours, if the problem is less severe).
    • BUT: We expect mistakes! Research has shown that language acquisition happens in a predictable sequence of stages, each stage characterized by certain patterns of mistakes. ==> Difficulty participating (on an ongoing basis) may reduce your A&P grade. Making mistakes will not!
  • Your instructor will enter “A&P Tally” grades weekly. S/he will enter a “comment” in the “A&P Tally” score for that week whenever the grade is different from the “standard” four points per class hour. If you wish to contest an “A&P Tally” grade, YOU MUST DO SO WITHIN ONE WEEK OF IT BEING ENTERED. ==> Please check your “A&P Tally” grades regularly!
  • We will translate your final “A&P Tally” grade into your actual Attendance & Participation grade for the semester as follows:
    • “A&P Tally” of 96 percent or more ==> 96 percent for the final Attendance & Participation grade (i.e. an “A”)
      • Only in very exceptional cases (“A+” level of participation throughout the semester), your instructor may enter a higher final grade of 97-100.
    • 95 percent or less: Your final Attendance & Participation grade will be the same as your “A&P Tally” grade.
  • Absence Make-Ups/Participation Bonus: Watch the weekly emails for specific times. You can earn 2 make-up/bonus participation points for attending events such as
    • Deutschtisch
    • Attending your instructor’s office hours for more than 30 minutes
    • Occasional special events, as announced by your instructor
    • You can earn a maximum of 10 make-up/bonus points in the first 4 calendar weeks of the semester, and up to 10 more in the second 4 calendar weeks of the semester, i.e. you can earn a maximum of 20 make-up/bonus points in this way over the course of the semester

***If you have lost a net total of 40 or more points (the equivalent of missing 10 class hours unexcused) in your “A&P Tally” by the end of the semester, your FINAL COURSE GRADE will be an AUTOMATIC E*** 

Laptops and Smartphones

  • You do not need a laptop during class (there are a few exceptions–your instructor will let you know).
  • Inappropriate laptop/smart phone use (e.g. texting, chatting, checking Facebook or sports scores, answering the phone) will lower your attendance/participation grade significantly.
  • Please silence your phone when class begins. If there is a good reason why you must answer the call, please leave the room very briefly.

Learning By Speaking; Language Learning Anxiety

The best and most motivating way to learn all aspects of language (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, fluency, etc.) is by speaking. We will use as much class time as possible to let you speak. We use a lot of partner and group activities designed to let you actively practice vocabulary, so that you can speak for most of each class hour.  You will learn the most by relaxing, having fun, and experimenting with new words and structures without worrying too much about mistakes. This will save you a lot of memorization time before the tests – AND it will make it much easier to learn and practice grammar!

We spend very little time explaining grammar in class, but we will constantly be practicing it. Research has shown that grammar is learned most efficiently and lastingly by using it to communicate, not by explanations and drills. You will read grammar explanations at home before/while taking the diagnostic quizzes. There are many grammar resources available on-line. When the class needs it, your instructor will provide explicit explanations. Please ask questions.

Language Learning Anxiety

Researchers have found that about 1/3 of students feel anxious when learning a new language, in part because their limited language proficiency keeps them from “being themselves” when using the new language. They suggest two things that may be helpful in this context:

  • Know that you are not alone. Consider letting your instructor know how you feel.
  • Anxiety is often connected to perfectionism. As we will keep telling you throughout this course, your goal in speaking German should not be to “avoid mistakes,” but rather, to “keep talking”!

Advice and Resources

  • ASK QUESTIONS!! For every question you ask, there are likely to be several people in the class who will be grateful you asked it.
  • Course Coordinator: Vicki Dischler (3120 MLB;; Language Program Director: Hartmut Rastalsky (3214 MLB; 647-0404). Your instructor may pass some questions on to Vicki or possibly Hartmut. Let Vicki know if you find a great learning resource!
  • Take a look at the “Reading Strategies” page on the Resources site. Above all: (1) Skim texts once before you read them thoroughly. This will save you time: it is the first thing you will hear in any speedreading course. (2) Fight the urge to look up every unfamiliar word. Use your knowledge and common sense to help you fill in the gaps. Remember how efficiently you do this in English e.g. when you are having a conversation in a noisy place!
  • Find a study partner. You’ll have more fun, you can share pizza (or Bratwurst), two heads are better than one, and you never learn a thing as well as when you try to explain it to someone else. Research data shows that students who work in study groups are more successful language learners.
  • Set aside a time every day to think in German about what you are doing (“Ich stehe auf. Ich putze mir die Zähne. Ich bin der/die Beste…”). This is great practice for the oral exams. Look up words for things you care about.
  • Explore the many resources on the Resources site, including Self-Study Advice.

Respectful Classroom Environment

This class depends on all of us being comfortable interacting informally with each other, experimenting with the language, taking risks, and being playful. That means that what is important in every college classroom is especially important for us: an environment in which everyone feels welcome and respected. That means thinking about the things we say, not perpetuating stereotypes, and apologizing if you said something you didn’t mean. It also means that we really want you to let your instructor know, in class or outside of class, in person or via email, if something happens in class that makes you uncomfortable, so that we can talk about how to make things better.

  • If there are students in your section whom you know from your previous German course(s), then of course it’s great if you continue to enjoy working with these old friends. But we also hope you will make an effort to meet new people in this section!
  • In this context, please bear in mind the University of Michigan’s non-discrimination policy: The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

Gender and Gender Pronouns in German

Anyone who speaks German has learned the various gender distinctions for nouns (der, die, das) as well as their declension in nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. As far as distinguishing gender pronouns for individual people, the most common conversations in German-speaking countries will use binary grammatical gender (e.g.sie and er; der Student= the male student, die Studentin= the female student), but many options have been proposed. We want to prepare you for communicating in German based on our experiences and research of the language in order to create a bridge to other cultures. We also want to cultivate the most inclusive classroom environment possible. If there is a way that you would like to be addressed in your German class, please let your instructor know so that we can show our respect for you in every way possible.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you think you may need an accommodation for a disability, please let your instructor know as soon as possible. In particular, a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form must be provided to your instructor at least two weeks prior to the need for a test/quiz accommodation. The Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office (G664 Haven Hall) issues VISA forms.

Mental Health Resources

The University of Michigan is committed to advancing the mental health and well-being of its students. If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and/or in need of support, services are available. For help, contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (734) 764-8312 and during and after hours, on weekends and holidays, or through its counselors physically located in schools on both Central and North Campus. You may also consult University Health Service (UHS)at (734) 764-8320 and, or for alcohol or drug concerns, see

For a listing of other mental health resources available on and off campus, visit:

Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

Title IX and our school policy prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, and all forms of sexual misconduct, including harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can receive confidential support and academic advocacy at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC). SAPAC can be contacted on their 24-hour crisis line, 734-936-3333 and online at Violations can be reported non-confidentially to the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) at Reports to law enforcement can be made to the University of Michigan Police Department at 734-763-3434.

Academic Integrity, Essays and Homework

Very important: All work submitted, including all homework assignments, must be original student work produced for this course, with proper quotation and citation of the contributions of others. When in doubt, cite (see below)!

This course is governed by the prevailing Codes of Student Conduct and of Academic Integrity of the University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA).Violations of Academic Integrity will be taken seriously and can in serious cases result in a failing grade for the course and/or referral to the LSA Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. Official LSA policies on Academic Integrity, and also a quiz on Academic Integrity, can be found at:

Essays: The essays (and revisions of these essays) that you submit for this course are where this policy crucially applies. This means:

  • ADVICE: You will get the most out of writing the essays for this course by creatively making the German you have learned “your own.” When you write about a German text you have read, look for opportunities to express the ideas from the text more simply in your own words.
    Citing resources
    Note all of the following situations in which you should put words or phrases in BOLD (or, alternatively, underline them) in your essay, and then CITE the source at the end of your essay.

    • You can ask your instructor or some other proficient speaker 3 or 4 specific questions on how to say something. Cite their name and the date you got help.
    • You may ONLY use an online translator like Google Translate for single words and short phrases. Clearly indicate these, include the English phrase you were checking, and then cite the translating tool. **Important: If your essay is clearly above the level of your work in class and on tests and homework, your instructor will hand it back to you and ask you to rewrite it.
    • If you consult any additional resources (e.g. Wikipedia or other online sources), even if you did not quote from them directly, cite these.
    • Put any direct quotes in quotation marks.
    • If you have no sources to cite (you didn’t look anything up in a dictionary, no one helped you, and you consulted no other sources), please write “I did not consult any outside sources for this essay” at the end!Situations in which you DON’T need to cite
      • It is good practice to look up the genders and plurals of nouns, and the conjugation patterns of verbs you use in your essay.
      • We strongly encourage you to use a German spellchecker for your essays.
  • Test Essays: Test review sheets for this course will always include the essay topics for the test and are an opportunity to put into creative practice what you have learned. Go through the course materials to find ideas. You are encouraged to refine your essay ahead of time and memorize it for the test.

Homework: You are allowed (and even encouraged!) to get help from others and to collaborate with classmates on homework; if you use online translators (only to look up individual words and simple phrases) and other sources, please cite them in a clear way.