German Language & Culture

Summer Program with students from William & Mary, USA

Field trip to Dresden in the summer of 2019.
Photo: ISCO
Field trip to Dresden in the summer of 2019.

from May 25th to July 11th, 2020

This German Language and Culture Program was developed by the Modern Languages and Literatures Department of the American University "William & Mary" in cooperation with the German Department and the International Relations Office of the University of Potsdam. If you have completed at least one year of German language instruction, this is a wonderful chance to spend seven weeks at our university intensively studying German language and culture.

The program’s main focus is on language competence development by offering language classes including phonetics. Moreover, the William & Mary Program Director holds a seminar the topic of which is set differently each year.

The program offers you an exciting range of opportunities to familiarize yourselves with German language and culture:

  • You complete the workload of one semester of German instruction.
  • You live with a carefully selected host Family in Potsdam and/or Berlin.
  • You visit many places of cultural and historic interest in and around Potsdam and Berlin.

This website is meant to give you an introduction to the upcoming program. 

Program Specification


According to your language competence, you will be in one of two groups each taking 14 hours of German instruction per week (including practical Phonetics). All of you will take part in the course offered by the Program Director. Grades will be assigned in all of your courses. Your final grade will be given to you by the Program Director.

  • Skills

    The overall aim of the course is the improvement of your language proficiency so that you are able to communicate appropriately in different situations. With its 12 lessons per week, the course will thus focus on training your communicative abilities and developing fluency in both written and spoken German. You will participate in listening, reading, writing, and speaking exercises in class. One important aspect of the class will be spoken language and understanding texts, especially the different usages of everyday language and structured, written texts. You will look at different reading strategies and get helpful hints for understanding a text. In this context, you will also continuously work on extending your vocabulary. It will be a constant interplay between receptive and productive tasks. Written work will give you the chance to apply the knowledge and techniques acquired so far and at the same time serves as a means to assess your progress. Grammar is an integral part of this course. Different structures will be analyzed, discussed, and practiced in various contexts. The idea is that you use grammar whenever you write or say something in German, and that it is best learnt by using a communicative approach. Language material will focus on German culture and the German language. Grading will be based on in-class performance, individual progress, written assignments,  presentations and quizzes. The class will be taught in German.

  • Practical Phonetics

    This course is about the correct articulation and intonation of German. You will especially work on correcting typical mistakes due to interference and deal with exercises using different forms of language material from single words or sentences to poems, anecdotes or little role plays. In order to ensure good pronunciation results, every student will get the chance to train speaking and also reading as much as possible.

Cultural Program

The summer program has several fieldtrips in store for you. Find Potsdam on a map and you will realize that it is the perfect starting point for exploring Germany and Europe. Our campus is located at the west end of the world famous gardens of Sanssouci with the Castle Sanssouci near and the magnificent New Palace opposite our office. So, we want to explore the gardens and also the New Palace with you, make a historical city tour through Potsdam and to Berlin, and much more.

The second weekend of the course is dedicated to a three-day trip to Dresden, a famous center of art and culture in the green heart of Germany – Saxony. You will explore the historic center of the city on the River Elbe with its impressive and well-preserved royal buildings, churches and museums. On the fifth weekend of the course, we will take you on a three-day trip to Hamburg, which is the second-largest city in Germany after Berlin. The city is especially famous for its harbour and its history as a merchant city and member of the medieval Hanseatic League.