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(1) Class time is precious and in short supply. To make best use of it, it is primarily dedicated to tasks which cannot be accomplished at home or by individuals (as opposed to pairs or groups). Interaction, communication, and supervised language practice are part of class meetings. Learning about grammar rules, memorizing (rather than using) vocabulary, and rote practice for re-enforcement are tasks for homework.
(2) The teacher is not a "purveyor of knowledge" but your resource, your expert advisor (both on the language and on how to approach its study strategically), the person in charge of tracking your progress, the person to manage practice opportunities for you, and generally the "program director". Your textbook and similar sources provide the knowledge and you are in charge of managing your own learning by making choices that take advantages of the assets of the teacher, instructional materials, and the class as a whole.
(3) Even homework assignments without a written component such as reading a passage, studying grammar rules, or memorizing vocabulary ARE homework and will count toward your grade. By not completing them, you take away from the most appropriate uses of class time and stand in the way of not only your own learning but that of others.
(4) The course takes an inductive approach to language learning. Induction means that you will first be exposed to grammatical forms and words in context (e.g., in a text). You will be challenged to detect (induce) the meaning of the forms and words based on the context and based on repetitive patterns. At this point, you will not be asked to produce any of these forms or words, only to 'work through them'. The goal is for you to engage with the meaning of forms and words rather than be told about it. Research has shown that such engagement leads to better understanding and retention. It also mimics what you need to do in a real-life, authentic setting and prepares you for your experiences in a German-speaking country.
(5) Class will come as close as possible to an authentic German-speaking environment.
You will work with "real" German texts (presented in writing and speaking) from the beginning. Please know that "comprehension" will be defined by specific tasks, as posed by the textbook and the teacher. The definition of "comprehension" will never include the ability to understand every single word or to translate into English. Be sure to use the same realistic definition of "comprehension" as set forth in the course. Do not frustrate yourself by setting unrealistic goals. Rather enjoy the fact that you can work with real-life German from early on.
The primary language of communication will be German. German is not simply the object of discussion, it's the vehicle of communication. Your teacher will speak as much German as possible. Please feel free to ask for repetition or clarification when needed. You are expected to reciprocate: You should try to speak as much German as possible, from the beginning. You will learn the necessary classroom and teaching vocabulary first to facilitate this goal. Of course, you can ask your teacher's help in formulating thoughts, questions, etc. and you are not expected to produce language on par with that of a native speaker at all. Your teacher may also set aside or signal brief periods during which English is permissible. Moreover, you may ask your teacher for permission to speak English when absolutely necessary.
Overall, look upon the use of German not as a chore but an opportunity which rarely would come your way outside of class - unless and until you can take a trip to Europe. Whenever choosing to speak English, please consider that your choice contributes to the class environment as a whole. In essence, you are not only depriving yourself of a chance to speak German but you are also preventing other students from being immersed in a German-speaking environment.
(6) The Department of German offers extensive extra-curricular activities. Stammtisch and Kaffeestunde (great baked goods and conversation, led by different departmental TAs) are prime opportunities to practice German. The Department also sponsors various free talks and presentations - in English or German - related to various issues of German language, culture, and literature. Your teacher will make announcement of these events. Please also check your email for relevant messages via the class email list.