Language Program


About the Language Program

Our language classes focus on meaningful, contextualized communication. In each of our German language classes, students build language proficiency in the four basic skills areas—speaking, writing, reading, and listening – by acquiring the linguistic tools to communicate in a foreign language. We also want them to develop the cultural literacy and sensitivity necessary in our increasingly diverse and global society. For this reason, our language acquisition curriculum presents language in cultural context, and activities are typically based on a realistic situation rather than grammar drills without a context.

Beginning and Intermediate Language Courses: The Sequence

Many students begin their language studies in our core elementary (first-year) and intermediate (second-year) programs. It is possible for a four-year student to complete the German major by beginning with German 101 during the first freshman semester. All beginning and intermediate courses meet for three hours a week. The sequence is as follows:

 GER 101: Beginning German 1 (3 credits)

GER 102: Beginning German 2 (3 credits)

GER 201: Intermediate German 1 (3 credits)

GER 202: Intermediate German 2 (3 credits) 

Our textbooks (Netzwerk or Impuls Deutsch, depending on the course and semester) are supplemented by a variety of authentic materials, e.g. music, websites, and films. In the intermediate courses, students also read a short book in German (a simplified version of Inge Scholl’s Die weiße Rose or Ottfried Preussler’s Krabat) to help students develop their reading skills and learn more about the culture and history of the German-speaking world.

Each semester, students also participate in a group project, and at least once a year, students from all of the language classes will have the chance to present their projects to the department as a whole. Both topic and mode of these projects vary: in the past, students have given poster presentations comparing the situations of refugees in Germany and the US, presented on the German election, created humorous comics illustrating the usefulness of German language skills, and designed websites giving tips to German visitors to Pittsburgh, to mention just a few examples.

Goethe-Zertifikat: The University of Pittsburgh is now a testing center for the Goethe-Institut. If you are interested to find out more about the Goethe-Zertifikat, which is recognized world-wide and especially useful if you want to study or work abroad, check out the Goethe-Institut’s website here:

For more information about taking the test in Pittsburgh, go here:

If you have any further questions, contact Dr. Viktoria Harms (

General Education Requirements

German 102 fulfills the language requirement of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. All Intermediate German courses fulfill General Education requirement of Global Awareness and Cultural Understanding (Specific Geographic Region).

Placement Testing

Students who arrive at the University of Pittsburgh with some German language skills should use our Placement Guide to determine which course would be best for them. In case of further questions, please contact the Director of  Language Studies, Dr. Viktoria Harms (, to discuss which course would be best suited for your level.  

Contact Information

For questions about the first-year and second-year language programs, please contact the Director of Language Studies, Dr. Viktoria Harms,

Special Interest Courses: Reading and Professional German

For interested undergraduates or for graduate students seeking to pass reading exams for another University of Pittsburgh department, our two-sequence German Reading courses (GER 21 and 22) serve as appropriate and intensive preparation. Both are taught online. Students enrolled in GER 21 learn to identify all of the basic grammar structures of German and begin to develop their translation skills as they work with the textbook German for Reading Knowledge by Richard Alan Korb. At the end of this course, students are able to answer content questions about provided reading material and translate short texts. In GER 22, students to build on knowledge acquired in GER 21 or its equivalent as they translate and interpret specialized materials from their fields of study. Questions of stylistics are also covered.

Students who wish to learn about German business customs and structures and who wish to practice their professional skills have an opportunity to enroll in the courses “Professional German” and “The German Business (Eco)System” after completing the Intermediate Language Sequence. The courses in the “Professional German” sequence can count towards the major, the certificate, or the minor in German.