German University: A thorough analysis

Having attended a full day of classes, I feel entitled to make a series of sweeping generalisations about what German Universities are like.

Iäve (sorry, kezböärd, I'm switching) made this observation before, but everybody seems to know each other.  My first linguistics class, at nine this morning, was extremely talkative.  Infiltration is my goal, but not in that class, because I'm likely not taking it.  It has a final paper due Sept. 4.

In the course catalogue, courses have names, but no descriptions.  The first course I visited to-day was called "speech theory and spoken language," and I rather expected it to be about things like incremental production, and in general syntactic processes.  Instead, it is mostly about phonology.  That's fine, and probably will be interesting, but it illustrates my point: any course could be anything.  My "selected problems of German" course to-morrow may turn out to be a meeting of the Illuminati.  I have no way of knowing.

Language classes tend to use a communicative approach, possibly because Germans already understand the concepts of verb conjugation and case.  This will be really good for me, as my entire knowledge of Russian is grammatical.  I lack the skills to complete any practical task.  This also means I can take third-semestre Russian again without actually repeating much material.

Only approximately two-thirds of lectures actually take place.  To-day, my third class just didn't happen.  I went to the room, and waited, and no one showed up, despite the course being on the room schedule posted on the door.  By extrapolation, I can expect this to happen at every third class I try to attend.  I am a little worried.

By the same logic, I can expect to get myself invited to join a debate club at every third class I go to (and half of all classes that actually take place).  I'm thinking about doing it, as I might get hounded to death if I don't.  Also, it would probably be a great experience.  I can't do verbal debate in English to any extent, and German could only exacerbate the problem.  Seriously, I'll probably do it.



  2. Debate in other countries is actually often in English so that people can compete against each other.