For students of foreign language programs, an immersive study can be a cornerstone in the process of achieving proficiency and, ultimately, fluency in a language. For three German language students, the summer presented itself as an ideal time to enroll in an immersive study program in Leipzig, Germany. In partnership with the University of Leipzig and the Herder Institut in Leipzig, Zachary Grattan ’17, Ryan Tinklepaugh ’16 and Lauren Carr ’17 are earning HWS credit through the summer immersion course abroad.
Established in 2012, the summer course is a pilot experience for students of the Colleges studying German. Funded by the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund, the new program allows students to enroll in summer courses abroad and participate in cultural excursions across Germany.
While the program includes intensive classroom study, afternoons in Germany are reserved for museum visits, outings or completing faculty-led projects focused on helping students explore the city and environment of Leipzig. Classes are conducted solely in German, and small group instruction allows for greater exploration into phonetics and dialogue.
“The Institut takes a multi-directional approach to teaching German, teaching in the classroom, providing excursions to teach culture and allowing free time to explore and learn naturally about topics that interest us,” explains Grattan.
Additionally, the cohort of students has traveled to different areas of the country, including Eisenach in Thurigen, childhood home of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wartburg, a mountaintop fortress listed as a protected world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Another excursions include an exploration of Dresden for a day.
“It was a great way for us to get out of Leipzig for a little while and explore other significant cities in Germany,” Carr reflects.
Overall, the trip allows the students to hone their language skills by placing them in diverse and demanding settings in which German is the primary language. Because the summer course is so immersive, the three students each cite the experience as helping them advance their linguistic skills immeasurably.
“I noticed I was able to speak and comprehend more German and complex situations I wasn’t able to before,” says Tinklepaugh. “This program also helped me grow as a worldly learner. I held conversations with many different people with different backgrounds. One of my most memorable moments of the program was holding a conversation with some people from Afghanistan and Palestine on the train.”
The summer program through the Herder Institut is open to all upper-level students of German at HWS; students must have been enrolled in two semesters of German language study prior to the abroad experience. More information about the Blocker Endowed Fund and the German Area Studies program may be found at www.hws.edu/academics/german.