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Author Topic: Teaching in Germany  (Read 5009 times)
angelicus
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« on: March 11, 2016, 11:26:20 pm »

I have an opportunity to teach a semester-long intro course for majors in a field in the humanities (undergrad) at a German university.   Probably about 20 students.   I am fluent in German so that is no problem.
I've only taught in the USA, and don't have connections or friends there to ask about expectations, so maybe somebody here can clear up a few doubts and questions.

1.  Do profs. still hand out syllabi at the start of a course?   Or is this now normally all done online?  If so, what do students expect to be told on a syllabus, and at what level of detail?
2.  How much reading is reasonable or expected?
3.  If reading is in English, will students be apt to protest?
4.  What kind and how many quizzes, exams, etc. are typical?

Thanks in advance.
 
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sandgrounder
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2016, 2:05:46 pm »

I hope someone comes along who currently teaches there but here's my best go at your questions, based on my (UK) students' recent experiences on exchange in Germany and my own memories of German student life.
1) Some places make a lot of use of a VLE eg posting readings online, others none - I'd prepare a syllabus anyway. They are usually fairly short - core reading, topics for each week, assessment details etc but you might want to ask to see an example from the department. There may be a departmental statement on plagiarism to be included for instance.
2) According to my undergrad exchange students from Germany, our (UK) expectations of 3 articles/book chapters per week are unreasonable. When I think back to my own days as a student there, I remember there being set books for a course rather than articles, but most of the actual reading being for your individual research paper rather than weekly for class. This might be out of date though.
3) This is very discipline / department specific (depending how internationally orientated the place and students are) - you can assume a reasonable level of fluency in English and I wouldn't expect complaints at some English reading, but if the course is being taught and assessed in German, it would make sense to have key conceptual readings in German.
4) Usually one research paper (10-12 pages) for a seminar-based course or one exam at the end of the semester (could be oral or written) for a lecture-course - also a 15-20 minute presentation of the work during class for a seminar is fairly normal but not worth much (if anything).
Expect the students to be more like graduate students in the US in terms of independence and maturity.
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angelicus
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2016, 8:24:22 pm »

Thanks, that is very helpful!
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totoro
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2016, 10:23:51 pm »

You should ask the department about the details on the syllabus etc.
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hulkhogan
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2016, 1:14:07 am »

I have an opportunity to teach a semester-long intro course for majors in a field in the humanities (undergrad) at a German university.   Probably about 20 students.   I am fluent in German so that is no problem.
I've only taught in the USA, and don't have connections or friends there to ask about expectations, so maybe somebody here can clear up a few doubts and questions.

1.  Do profs. still hand out syllabi at the start of a course?   Or is this now normally all done online?  If so, what do students expect to be told on a syllabus, and at what level of detail?
2.  How much reading is reasonable or expected?
3.  If reading is in English, will students be apt to protest?
4.  What kind and how many quizzes, exams, etc. are typical?

Thanks in advance.
 

Based on my own experiences....

1. I never really saw a syllabus. if anything, there may have been a one-page outline of the material covered each week. Classes usually met once a week for two ours, always from 15 minutes past the hour to 15 minutes to the hour (called the "academic quarter-hour"), so classes are actually only 90 minutes long. from, say, 10:15 to 11:45.

2. Classes usually had only one or maybe two books. Even in literature classes. Sometimes classes had no books and simply a collection of photocopied materials that we could buy from the professor. Amounts of reading will be much lower than what we are used to. On the other hand, students will expect to discuss textbook content or readings in great detail and not just in broad strokes as we tend to do.

3. Yes. Although German students start learning English in elementary school and some are quite good or at least believe they are quite good at it, the level of proficiency is by and large lower than expected.

4. Testing tends to be high stakes. Many classes have only a final exam and no other assignments or assessments. Papers are frequently required. 10-12 pages is reasonable for undergraduates, 20-25 for graduate students. Papers are customarily written during semester breaks after the class has ended and then submitted later, sometimes much later. (That may have changed today.) If you insist that all assignments be completed by the last day of class, expect some blowback. Many classes require students to give presentations on textbook or course content (the ubiquitous "Referat"). These presentations are not meant for additional, nice-to-know topics. Students will present major course content, and the professor will consider these presentations equal to having duly taught said content.  Some classes consist mainly of sitting in the room silently all semester while listening to presentations given by classmates and asking the occasional question.

But for the details, do contact the department. They'll fill you in on the departmental culture and their expectations.
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piroschka
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2016, 7:01:57 am »

when will you be teaching in Germany? I am currently doing so ... similiar situation to yours ... and was lucky to get lots of information from colleagues in Germany.
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