German Language Program

We see the integration of language, literature, and culture as our primary guiding principle. Our beginning, intermediate, and advanced level courses, while relying to a certain extent on commercial textbooks, are heavily supplemented with current and constantly updated texts from a wide array of media and genres – poetry, songs, films and videos, news media, Internet, new media, social media, (radio)plays, and novels.

Our beginning and intermediate courses are organized around topics which gradually expand and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of life in German-speaking countries. The advanced level courses explore contemporary social issues, complimented by online discussions with students of a Munich Gymnasium, while explicitly sensitizing students to issues of genre and audience, and giving them more historical perspectives.

Emphasizing core Duke strengths and taking into consideration who Duke students are now, we operate with integrated dynamic modules which allow students to investigate and acquire knowledge in the larger ideas of German studies.

Which Course Do I Sign Up For?

Use the table below to help select the right course for starting your German studies at Duke. If you are unsure of which courses you should take, contact the Language Program Director, Cori Crane (, for guidance.

If you are unsure which level you should be in (sit on the borderline in terms of academic background or test scores), we recommend you visit BOTH courses for 2-3 days of the first week of class. By visiting both levels, you can review the books and syllabus, find out what other students in the class are like, and get a feel for the pace of the work. Then you should be able to judge which level is more appropriate. We recommend you temporarily register for the higher level course since it is easier to drop a level after a few days than to move up a level. When in doubt, it is best to consult with the Language Program Director.

If you have this background or test scores: Register for this course:
  • You have never studied German.
  • You studied German in elementary or middle school but not high school.
  • You studied German one year in high school, but did not do much speaking, reading, or writing in German.
  • You have SAT II scores of 200-410.

GERMAN 101 – First-Year German I GERMAN 101 is an introductory course for students who have not previously studied German. The course aims to teach students to communicate in German and at the same time develop a structural awareness of the German language. Since the goals of communicative and grammatical competence are ultimately inseparable, the students are guided towards using German as accurately as possible. By the end of the course you should be able to understand and respond appropriately to simple questions and statements in German. You should also be able to read and converse about a variety of German texts, as well as talk and write in German about yourself, your family, and your life at university.

NOTE: Students who have had more than one year of German in high school and who wish to take German I must consult with the Language Program Director. GERMAN 101 cannot be taken for credit by anyone who has had more than two years of German in secondary school. An exception may be granted in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

  • You have successfully completed GERMAN 101 or its equivalent at a university level.
  • You had one year of recent, high-quality instruction in German in high school, where German was the main language of communication.
  • You had 2 or more years of German in high school, but do not feel ready for the intermediate level.
  • You have SAT II scores of 420-480.
GERMAN 102 – First-Year German II GERMAN 102 continues the introduction to the German language as presented in the textbook Kontakte. By the end of the semester you should be able to converse simply in German about everyday events and activities in the past and present, ask questions and express opinions. You will have the tools to go beyond simple sentences when expressing yourself in writing and should also be able to read basic German texts. You will continue to learn about German culture and improve your language learning strategies. Achieving these goals requires regular practice with the language, both in class and individually, and a willingness to experiment with new patterns of sounds and words, much of which can only be done in the classroom so attendance is a vital part of your commitment to this course.
  • You have successfully completed GERMAN 102 or equivalent.
  • You had 3 years of a good high school program, especially if their last year of study was their senior year.
  • You have had 4 years of high school German, but classes were not conducted in German, and had minimal reading or writing.
  • You have learned to speak German in everyday conversation, but have no knowledge or control of grammar.
  • If you have SAT II scores of 490-580.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) score of 3.
GERMAN 203 – Intermediate German I The course is designed to continue the thematic and linguistic explorations of contemporary Germany on the intermediate level begun in German I and II. The two main goals of the course are an expansion of your German linguistic skills and your cultural knowledge, with a major emphasis on developing reading strategies, and using the language to express ideas. By the end of the course you should be able to understand a range of authentic text types. You will continue to increase your ability to communicate your thoughts in German, both orally and in writing. Generally, students are expected to demonstrate a growing awareness of – and sensibility to – German language and culture, and express their ideas in a manner that is consistent with intermediate language work. We will build upon a wide range of language skills acquired in GERMAN 101 and 102.
  • You have successfully completed GERMAN 203 or equivalent.
  • You have had 4 years of a good high school program and did well in them.
  • If you have SAT II scores of 590-620.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) score of 3 or 4.
GERMAN 204 – Intermediate German II This course picks up where GERMAN 203 left off, completing the second year sequence. Language proficiency and cultural knowledge through topic-oriented syllabus focusing on contemporary German culture and society. "Traveling" through major German, Austrian and Swiss cities. Comprehensive review of German grammar, vocabulary building, practice in speaking, reading, and writing skills. Literary and nonliterary texts from a variety of media (books, newspapers, audio, video, film, internet), providing basis for discussion and cultural awareness. Student presentations on related topics of their choice.
  • You have successfully completed GERMAN 204 or equivalent.
  • If you have SAT II scores of 630-650.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) score of 4 or 5.
GERMAN 305 – Advanced German I: Culture and Society GERMAN 305 expands and deepens students' cultural literacy and interpretive skills by focusing on issues of social, cultural, and political significance in German-speaking countries (e.g. reunification, multiculturalism, representations of women, globalization of media, role of Germany in United Europe, dealing with the holocaust, issues of identity). Students work on increasing active and passive vocabulary and perfecting sentence structure for oral and written communication in various formats: formal and informal. Intensive work on idiomatic vocabulary, sentence structure and patterns of expression will enable students to discuss a variety of complex topics with increasing ease and confidence.
  • If you have SAT II scores of 660 or higher.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) score of 5.

GERMAN 306 – Advanced German II: Text and Context and higher level courses.

Students who have not taken a placement exam MUST consult with the Language Program Director in order to enroll in this course.

Trinity College's Foreign Language (FL) requirement may be met in different ways, depending upon the level at which you begin language study, but every graduate of Trinity College is expected to attain proficiency at least equivalent to that of the first intermediate course in that language.

If you begin your language study at Duke at the intermediate level or above, you can fulfill the language requirement by completing a 100-level course coded FL. For example:

  • If you place into the first semester of the intermediate level, you will take three courses in the same language.
  • If you place into the second semester of the intermediate level, you will take two courses in the same language.
  • If you place into the 100-level, you will take one course.

If you begin your language study at Duke at the elementary level, you can fulfill the foreign language requirement in that language by completing three (3) courses coded FL.

These are courses taught in German, that meet the Foreign Language requirement for graduation with a bachelor degree at Duke.

Course Number Title Curriculum Codes Crosslisting Numbers
GER 101 First-Year German I FL
GER 102 First-Year German II FL
GER 111 Intensive First-Year German FL
GER 203 Intermediate German I CZ, FL
GER 204 Intermediate German II CZ, FL
GER 210 Intermediate Conversation Practice
GER 305S Advanced German I: Culture and Society CZ, CCI, FL
GER 306S Advanced German II: Text and Context W, CZ, FL, ALP
GER 310 Advanced Conversation Practice

Official Testing Site

The German Department at Duke University is an official testing site of the Goethe Institut (IMP – Institut mit Prüfungsberechtigung).

The Goethe-Institut's German language examinations correspond to the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and range from A1 for beginners to C2 for language skills at the highest level. At Duke, we offer examinations for A1, A2, B1, B2, and C1 (see below).

Examination Dates

Next examination dates:
C1 - TBD
A1 - TBD


To register for the Goethe exam, please contact the coordinator Cori Crane,  On the day of the exam, please bring an official ID (driver's license or passport) to complete registration, and a check (made out to "Duke University")



Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

For more information, go to the CEFR website.

Elementary Use of Language A1 Can understand and use familiar, everyday expressions and very simple sentences, which relate to the satisfying of concrete needs. Can introduce themselves and others as well as ask others about themselves (e.g. where they live, who they know and what they own) and can respond to questions of this nature. Can communicate in a simple manner if the person they are speaking to speaks slowly and clearly and is willing to help.
  A2 Can understand sentences and commonly used expressions associated with topics directly related to their direct circumstances (e.g. personal information or information about their family, shopping, work, immediate surroundings). Can make themselves understood in simple, routine situations dealing with a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and common topics. Can describe their background and education, immediate surroundings and other things associated with immediate needs in a simple way.
Independent Language Use B1 Can understand the main points when clear, standard language is used and the focus is on familiar topics associated with work, school, leisure time, etc. Can deal with most situations typically encountered when traveling in the language region. Can express themselves simply and coherently regarding familiar topics and areas of personal interest. Can report on experiences and events, describe dreams, hopes and goals as well as make short statements to justify or explain themselves own views and plans.
  B2 Can understand the main contents of complex texts on concrete and abstract topics; also understands specialized discussions in their own primary area of specialization. Can communicate so spontaneously and fluently that a normal conversation with native speakers is easily possible without a great deal of effort on either side. Can express themselves on a wide range of topics in a clear and detailed manner, explain their position on a current issue and indicate the benefits and drawbacks of various options.
Autonomous Language Ability C1 Can understand a wide range of challenging, longer texts and also grasp implicit meanings. Can express themselves spontaneously and fluently without having to search for words frequently and noticeably. Can use the language effectively and flexibly in their social and professional life or in training and studies. Can make clear, structured and detailed statements on complex topics and apply various means of text association appropriately in the process.


Practice and Review

Find online practice exams and further information on the Goethe-Institut website.