Why study German?

A group of students at the 2019 Minors Fair
2019 Minors Fair

German is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. At Carleton, we strive to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment that allows students to experience the richness of the German-speaking world.

After three terms of German at Carleton, students have the linguistic proficiency and cultural competence to read literature and newspapers and to live and study in a German-speaking country. They are encouraged to take part in our biennial program in Berlin or to pursue overseas study with other approved programs. To understand German-speakers, we dive into German-language culture, including literary, philosophical, musical, and artistic expressions right from the first course in the sequence. Students will gain the skills to engage with important writers, thinkers, creators, and discoverers in the original German.


Why Study German Flowchart

German Courses

The courses 101, 102, 103, and 204 (205 taught overseas in Berlin) are a sequential series of courses designed to provide the foundation for pursuing advanced work in language, literature and culture, while exposing students to examples of literary, philosophical, musical and artistic expression right from the start. German 210-219 offer students the opportunity to delve deeper into specific topics, ranging from current news, to genre studies, to themes such as migration, the body, or film. Admission to these courses without taking German 204 is determined either by appropriate AP or other placement test scores, or by successful completion of the previous course in the sequence. Courses beyond 103 have a number of goals: to refine and expand students’ linguistic ability, to give students access to great works of literature and culture, to broaden their cultural understanding, to improve their ability to engage in critical analysis, and to help them better understand themselves and the human condition. In class discussions, attention is focused on universal themes and concerns within the broad context of German culture. Courses numbered 150-159 are survey courses in translation with no prerequisites. Other courses in translation are also offered, which open interdisciplinary ways of study.

Special Seminars for First-Year Students (in English):

Recent offerings have included: Monsters, Robots, and Other Non-Humans; Science, Authority and Conscience in Modern German Literature; What Can a Body Do.

Recent Upper-Level Courses in German:

What’s Under Your Bed? Ghosts, Germans, and the Uncanny; Staging Revolution; Refugees Welcome; Short Prose; Iron Curtain Kids – Coming of Age in East Germany; Catastrophe! Natural Disaster in German Literature; The Invention of Childhood; Faust, the Devil, and Searching for the Soul; Spying and Surveillance; The Song that Sleeps in Everything.

Recent Courses in Translation:

German Music and Culture: German-speaking Cultural History From Mozart to Brothers Keepers; Gender Identity in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna; Crisis of Identity/Identity of Crisis – Intro to German Jewish Literature and Thought; Mirror, Mirror: Reflecting on Fairy Tales and Folklore; The Critical Toolbox; Soul Searching: Faust and the Devil in German Cultural History; Personhood.


Activities & Events

German-language activities outside the classroom include a German lunch table in the dining halls, film nights, Kaffeeklatsch, a German study table in the library, “Cook and Study” events, and many more. Recently students have explored the German restaurant scene in the Twin Cities and New Ulm, met alumni from the German section at a German “Career Night,” and presented at a national undergraduate research conference.

The German Club “FKK” offers more exciting opportunities such as LipSyncBattles, an Oktoberfest, and intramural soccer. Students also may elect to live in the International House, where a peer native-speaker is in residence.

Check out the 10 reasons to learn German from the Goethe Institute.

In addition, watch a video of a recent event, highlighting Career Opportunities in 21st Century Germany or read a Carleton news article about Speaking German as a Career Tool.