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Queen's University

GRMN 203*

German Conversation and Culture

Winter Semester 2012

GRMN 203* is an intermediate conversation course designed to advance skills in oral communication and cultural competence, supported by grammar instruction and written assignments. Students will engage with different media sources, including German-language television, film, internet, print media and music.

PREREQUISITE: At least 65 per cent in GRMN 102* or equivalent or permission of the Department.


Dr. Corina Fonyodi-Szarka


Office: Kingston Hall 407

Wann und wo? 

Sprechstunde: TBA und nach Vereinbarung (by appointment).

Material / Textbooks:

Dictionary: Tschirner, Erwin: Lextra - Deutsch als Fremdsprache. Lernwörterbuch. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz. (ISBN 978-3-589-01559-7, Cornelsen Verlag)
Textbook: TBA There will also be several handouts copied for you, so please be prepared to contribute a small amount to the copy costs. (TBA in class)

Course Objectives:

GRMN 203 is an intermediate conversation course designed to advance skills in oral communication and cultural competence.

  • We will cover diverse material such as German films, TV, radio plays, music, literary texts, newspaper articles and other (pop)cultural resources in order to increase your understanding and appreciation of German culture as well as your language skills.
  • We will look at authentic material that will give you a good idea of everyday life in a German-speaking country.
  • You will be introduced to new words in a controlled manner, but emphasis is also placed on growth of vocabulary experienced through authentic texts and other resources.
  • Our sessions will consist of listening comprehension elements, group and partner discussions, text and media analysis accompanied by grammar and vocab review.
  • Our goal is to make you fit for a stay in a German-speaking country (either as travel, an internship or an exchange semester).

A Semesterplan will be handed to you in the first class, but there will be room for your suggestions and interests.

Marking scheme

 Item  Weight
 Attendance/ Participation  10%
 6 Vocab/ Grammar Quizzes (5 counted)  together 10%
 1 oral interview (midterm)  15%
 1 oral project  15%
 4 Skype protocols  12%
 2 written Assignments/Miniaufsätze  8%
 2 Listening comprehension tests  10%
 Final exam  20%

Attendance and Participation

Attendance is mandatory and of the utmost importance in making your language learning experience a successful one. Your attendance and participation grade will be lowered by 1% for more than three classes (=1 week) missed without excuse and for unattended tutorial/Skype sessions.
There are no make-up quizzes or tests offered. Exceptions are made only for documented illness. In case of illness, please inform your instructor in good time.
Should you have to miss a class, it is your responsibility to catch up on the work and assignments. Please ask your fellow students first - your instructor will be happy to answer any remaining questions.


There will be a quiz of approx. 10 minutes each second Friday beginning Sept. 24. Each quiz will test vocabulary, ability to understand and communicate on the current level of the class, and recently learned grammar structures. Vocabulary is a key element for advancing your communicative skills and these quizzes will help you to keep track of what you have learned and what you can improve.

Oral Interview

The oral interview will be 15 minutes in length. You will be asked to sign up for it during the 7th week of classes. You will meet with your instructor and have a conversation on the level appropriate to the course.

Oral Project

In small groups, organize a presentation or skit on a German cultural topic of your choice.
It must be presented in German. You may not read directly from a written text. You may use bullet points on note cards if necessary.
Bring objects to look at and/or pictures!
The grade will be split between content, language and presentation skills. You can and should work on the project together and each student has to talk during the actual presentation, preferably every member of a group for the same length of time. Groups will be allocated about 5-6 minutes per member.
Please discuss your topic with the instructor before your presentation! You must also submit your script to have grammatical errors corrected.
Pick a topic that interests you. It is your responsibility to make sure your fellow students will be able to follow you (e.g. by providing necessary vocabulary on the board).

4 Skype Protocols

Starting week 4, you will meet with your Skype partner from Uni Halle for at least 1 hour each week (30 minutes English, 30 minutes German, a minimum of 4 hours of German during the whole term!). Please write 1-2 paragraphs (approximately 60-100 words) in German about each Skype exchange (which topics did you discuss) plus a minimum of four new words / expressions you learned. Hand in your Skype protocols biweekly on the required dates (see Semesterplan).

 2 Written assignments / Miniaufsätze

Hand in two written assignment on required dates:

  • Miniaufsatz 1: TBA
  • Minaufsatz 2: Schreiben Sie eine Filmrezension (ca. 400-500 Wörter) über Im Juli oder einen anderen deutschen Film, den Sie gesehen haben. Was passiert in dem Film? Finden Sie den Film gut? Wenn ja / nein, warum?

2 Listening comprehension tests

Listening comprehension is vital for the advancement of your communicative skills. There will be two tests of approx. 30 minutes each in two of our tutorial sessions.

Final exam

The exam takes place during the exam period in December. It will be two hours in length and it will be scheduled by the Exams Office (your instructor has no influence on exam arrangements). If you need special arrangements for the exam, please seek advice at Health, Counseling and Disability services. The exam will be based on the vocabulary, grammar and cultural topics that we covered in the course.


If you are eligible for special arrangements, please do not hesitate to request them not only for the final exam, but also speak to your instructor as soon as possible, so that you can be allocated other assignments, where needed. Please indicate such requests early in the semester.

Add/Drop Dates for Half-Courses, Fall Term 2010
Add: 24 September 2010, Drop: Without academic penalty: 5 November

Additional Tips

The activities in the classroom are mainly concerned with the acquisition of active communicative skills. You should review the material carefully after each class in order to be able to participate freely in activities. Conscientious learning of grammatical concepts and vocabulary are important as a basis for meaningful practice in real communicative situations.
Your instructor will speak German in class. You will not understand every word, but do not worry about this; simply keep listening for words that you do know. A good language learner is a willing guesser who accepts the uncertainty of not understanding every word. But please: never hesitate to ask for clarification of an important concept or if you don't know what to do in an activity.
Please make use of your professor's office hours! This time is set aside for you: to help you with any problems or concerns, to catch up, to give you additional practice for a concept that you found difficult, for help with pronunciation etc.

Resources for additional material in German or about German, Austrian and Swiss culture Improve your language skills:

Listening opportunities:

Learn about German Culture:

  •  DAAD - for those intending to study in Germany:
  • Facts about Germany: published by the German government
  • German Life: A Periodical about German Culture in North America
  • The Geman Way: Language and culture in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Watch films in German:

  • Stauffer Library as a selection of German/Swiss/Austrian films (DVDs are on the first floor, close to the reference collection).
  • Classic Video Kingston has an excellent variety of films in German. You can choose three DVDs and rent them for 8 days (for approx. $5)

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000