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"Alles, was uns begegnet, läßt Spuren zurück. Alles trägt unmerklich zu unserer Bildung bei."  Everything we encounter leaves traces behind. Everything contributes imperceptibly to our education. J.W. von Goethe 

Welcome to the German Section of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages!

We are committed to the idea that a knowledge of another culture is an important part of a liberal arts education because of the understanding that it gives us of ourselves and the world in which we live. For this reason the section offers an extensive program for training its majors and educating students from other disciplines in the German language and in the field of German Studies, which includes the literature and rich cultural heritage of the almost 100 million speakers of German in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Since the ability to understand and evaluate another culture can only be attained when the language has been mastered, a series of language courses on several levels forms the heart of the curriculum. The introductory sequence, which satisfies the Arts and Sciences proficiency requirement, offers students the opportunity to learn to understand and pronounce spoken German, to communicate on a variety of everyday topics, to read basic texts, and to become familiar with the essential points of grammar.

The intermediate sequence deepens the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; completes the coverage of the grammar; and enables students to read most texts and express themselves in written essays. Language courses at the advanced level further refine and practice these skills. Culture and literature, which are introduced both informally and systematically during the first two years, receive more specific attention in the regularly offered upper-level civilization and literature courses and in special-topics courses and seminars. In recent years topics for the latter have included the fairy tale, phonetics, modern drama, and German unification. Upper-level literature and culture courses are taught predominantly in German in order to further strengthen linguistic competence, and in addition to the transmission of knowledge about these cultural phenomena, the courses attempt to provide the critical skills for understanding and evaluating them.

Together with the other language sections within the Department of Foreign Languages the German section cooperates in offering courses on world literature in translation, European cinema, and modern literary theory and criticism. Interdisciplinary courses with English and International Studies will supplement these offerings in the near future. Although the Department does not offer any graduate degrees, it is able to offer courses for graduate credit that may be counted toward other degree programs. Instruction is supplemented at all levels by a state-of-the-art language laboratory with integrated computers and extensive audio-visual holdings. Check the university bulletin for a complete description of course offerings.


Some students will enroll as German majors and take the full range of offerings; others will choose to combine a German minor with a different major in order to broaden their education and strengthen their employment opportunities. A major,minor, or substantial course work in German is, for example, frequently combined with programs in education, business, or International Studies. Not only the specific knowledge gained in these courses, but the ability to think clearly, to become more aware of and proficient in one's native language, and to become more flexible through a wider range of experience contribute to the development that constitutes a college education and to the skills that will insure success in later study or employment. Upon completion of a B.A. students may choose to go to graduate school and to pursue careers in areas such as teaching, government service, international business, and law.


The German Program offers more than just its courses. Since 1986 it has maintained an exchange with the Universität Passau in Germany. Under this program a USA student is chosen  to spend a year studying in the beautiful city of Passau: besides not having to pay tuition, the student also receives a stipend to help pay for a dormitory room. 

The University of South Alabama also has an exchange with the Fachhochschule Worms (principally through the Mitchell College of Business), and students have the opportunity to spend a term there as well. Because the Department firmly believes in the importance of experience in the foreign country, it now requires study abroad for its majors and will subsidize such study, either on its own programs or those offered by other universities. 

In addition to the Passau award and study abroad stipends, the Department offers the Goessling Scholarship each year to an outstanding upper-level German student, and German students may also be eligible for the Dyess and Stock Awards. See Scholarships. 


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