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FG 111 Business German for Beginners
M 12:20-1:15pm WF 12:20-1:40 in Spring 2006
Professor Mary-Beth O’Brien

Course Description: An introduction to German language and culture in the context of business. Students learn the elementary German language skills needed to understand and perform basic business transactions, read texts related to business, write a résumé and rudimentary business correspondence, and understand the culture of business in the German-speaking world. Four hours of class, one hour of drill or tutorial. Presupposes no previous study of German.

Why learn German? Germany is the world’s number one exporter and it has the third largest economy in the world. German is the primary language of commerce in the European Union (EU). More than 2,500 German-speaking companies have subsidiaries in the US, which employ nearly 600,000 Americans. German is one of the two pilot languages for all new Microsoft products. One out of every ten books published in the world today is in German. Fluency in German can enhance your study of Management and Business as well as International Affairs and provide the opportunity to compete for an internship abroad. Solid language and cross-cultural skills provide an important edge in today’s global market.

FG 111 is a language course and not a business course, so the primary focus will be on content-based German language instruction. While some homework assignments will allow students to read English language cultural studies about German business practices and a few guest professors will lecture in English on German business trends, students will be asked to communicate as best as they can in the target language. Using tasked-based learning simulating real-life business situations, students will discover communicative strategies that allow them to convey and interpret ideas and negotiate meaning in German at the elementary level.

Learning Goals:
Students learn elementary communication skills in German, including basic vocabulary used in business and a fundamental understanding of grammar as the basis for correct speaking and writing. Oral language practice will focus on how to deal with specific work-related situations such as introducing oneself, presenting one's company, and talking on the telephone. Written language practice will center on rudimentary business correspondence and résumé writing. Students will also acquire basic reading skills to understand German language materials used in a business environment. Special emphasis will be placed on navigating the Internet.
• Students examine the German postal and telecommunication system, media, banking, transportation, main industry sectors and companies, domestic labor market, and Germany’s place in the European Union.
• Students explore cultural differences in business practices, personal attitudes, and behavior.
• Students put into practice acquired language and cultural skills by applying for jobs and internships in German-speaking countries.


Becker, Norbert, Jörg Braunert und Wolfram Schlenker, Unternehmen Deutsch Grundkurs: Lehrbuch. Stuttgart: Klett Verlag, 2005. ISBN 3-12-675740-5.

Britt, Christa, and Lilith Schutte. Wiley's English-German, German-English Business Dictionary. Wiley, 1995. ISBN: 0471121401.

Schmidt, Patrick. Understanding American and German Business Cultures: A Manager's Guide to the Cultural Context in Which American and German Companies Operate. Meridian World Press, 2001. ISBN: 0968529305

Participation 10%
Homework 15%
Vocabulary and Grammar Quizzes 15%
2 Exams 20%
Application Folder 20%
Final Oral Examination 20%

Participation and Homework: Your homework and class attendance are very important to your progress. Late homework will not be accepted. Your active participation and careful preparation of the materials are essential to success. Students who miss more than 2 class hours will have their final grade lowered.

Quizzes and Exams: We will cover six chapters in Unternehmen Deutsch Grundkurs: Lehrbuch during the semester. After the third and sixth chapters, there will be a written examination. There will also be short quizzes on grammar and vocabulary as needed.

Application File: Each student will assemble an application file in German to include a job advertisement, a cover letter application, a résumé with photo attached, and a vocabulary list of at least 100 words and useful expressions related to this specific job. Students are required to hand in a draft of the application file by the twelfth week of class. The finished Application File is due at the time of your final oral exam scheduled during finals week.

The Final Oral Examination will consist of a ten-minute job interview based on your job application file. The oral exam will be conducted exclusively in German. Students will need to present themselves as viable candidates for the position and will be graded on pronunciation, vocabulary usage, grammar usage, knowledge of German business culture, preparation, and interaction.

Rassias Drill: One day a week you will meet with your Rassias driller to practice structures and vocabulary. The same attendance policy applies to class meetings and Rassias drills.

The Language Resource Center (Bolton 380-381) is there for you! Be sure to fill out an attendance form. Students who attend the Language Lab for one hour will receive 5 extra credit points per week. If you attend the lab one hour a week for 10 weeks, that is 50 extra credit points!

*Note: The following schedule is in English for the purpose of informing students of the course’s content. The actual schedule will be in German, since this course is conducted in German.

Week One - Jan. 23-28, 2005

Unternehmen Deutsch:
Chapter 1: Making Contact, pp. 9-17
Language skills related to introducing yourself and others, professions and family, the alphabet, names, countries, numbers 0-100,
Grammar on present tense verbs, questions, possessive adjectives, coordinating conjunctions
Understanding American and German Business Cultures,
Ch. 1 “The Concept of Culture” pp. 7-19

Week Two - Jan. 30 - Feb3, 2006
Unternehmen Deutsch: Chapter 1: Making Contact, pp. 18-22
Unternehmen Deutsch: Arbeitsbuch
Language skills related to calling cards and identity cards, time
Grammar on sentence structure
Vocabulary Quiz
Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Ch. 2: “The Psychology of Germans and Americans” auf S. 19-40.

Week Three – Feb. 6-10, 2006

Chapter 2: Visitors are coming, pp. 23-29
Language skills related to greetings, transportation, time (months, days, hours)
Grammar on conjunctions, present tense verbs, modal verbs, questions
Vocabulary Quiz
Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Ch. 3: “Cultural Differences in the American and German Business Worlds,” pp. 41-56

Week Four - Feb. 13-17, 2006
Chapter 2: Visitors are coming, pp. 30-36
Language skills related to places, languages, time, duration
Grammar on articles, plural of nouns, accusative/dative prepositions in context
Grammar Quiz
Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Ch. 4: “Business meetings,” pp. 57-64

Week Five - Feb. 20-24, 2006
Chapter 3: People, pp. 37-43
Language skills related to family, relationships, describing people, clothing
Grammar on negation, verbs with vowel stem change, forms of address
Grammar Quiz
Germany and the European Union

Week Six – Feb. 27 – March 3, 2006
Chapter 3: People, pp. 44-50
Language skills related to departure, email, hobbies and leisure time, filling out forms, reading from the encyclopedia
Grammar on articles and nouns, adverbs of time, sentence structure of questions, imperative
Understanding American and German Business Cultures
, Ch. 5: Language and Communication, pp. 65-72
Exam # 1

Week Seven - March 6-10, 2005
Chapter 4: Needs, Ordering, Buying, pp. 51-55
Language skills related to filling out a form, expressing wishes, comparing products
Grammar on haben, indefinite articles, modal verbs
Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Ch 6: “Lawsuits and Ethics,” pp. 73-80.

Week Eight – March 11-19, 2006
Spring Break

Week Nine – March 20-24, 2006
Chapter 4: Needs, Ordering, Buying, pp. 56-64
Language skills related to ordering, reserving, choosing clothing, food
Grammar on personal pronouns, accusative
Understanding American and German Business Cultures, Ch 7: “The Interculturally-Competent Person,” pp. 81-89.

Week Ten – March 27-31, 2006
Chapter 5: In the Office and on the Road, pp. 66-69
Language skills related to setting up office furniture and supplies, geography, maps, bus schedule
Grammar on dative, two-way prepositions

Week Eleven – April 3-7, 2006
Chapter 5: In the Office and on the Road, pp. 70-77
Language skills related to giving directions, making suggestions and plans
Grammar on perfect tense, modal verbs

Week Twelve – April 10-14, 2006
Chapter 6: Names, Numbers, Dates, Facts, pp.79-85
Language skills related to describing a company, permission , duties,
Grammar on interrogatives, modal verbs

Week Thirteen – April 17-21, 2006
Chapter 6: Names, Numbers, Dates, Facts, pp.86-95
Language skills related to organizing work, comparing machines, characterizing people and things
Grammar on comparative, adjectives
Exam #2

Week Fourteen – April 24-28, 2006
Looking for a Job: The mechanics of writing a résumé and cover letter, Preparing the Application File
Language skills related to job searches
Grammar on simple past
Research for a job in Germany using Students will bring at least two appropriate job ads to class this week.
Students will write a resume in German in both table and narrative form and a one-page cover letter to accompany the job application file. For tips on effective resume writing, visit:

Week Fifteen – May 1-2, 2006

Your oral exam will be scheduled for a ten-minute period during the course’s examination period as assigned by the registrar during finals week May 8-12, 2006. The oral exam schedule will be distributed by the 12th week of classes. Any student who arrives late will lose 10% of the final grade. Please use the same attentiveness in your preparation and presentation, as you would on a real job interview.

Viel Glück und viel Spaß im Geschäftsdeutsch für Anfänger!

On-Line Materials Deutsche Welle Online Wirtschaftsdeutsch

Sites advertising jobs  Stellenbörse  Praktikum   Jobs in Germany

Tips for writing resumes, interviewing     BW-Tips   Ratgeber Jobware 

Women in Business        Focus: Frau und Karriere

Organizations  German American Chamber of Commerce - New York Chapter  German Embassy: Business Section   German American Commerce Club


Creative Thought Matters.
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