AMD Ideen

Here are some ideas to use as a starting point…but quickly you will find something that is unique to you and allows you to explore German in accordance with your particular interests. Try something new each time, or stick with one thing that you love. As you scroll through the list you should start to get the idea that the possibilities are endless (even if you’re just starting in 101!)…

**Please email Hartmut if you find broken links or outdated info below!**

  1. Borrow ideas from other students: Scroll through the blog to see what other students are doing. Maybe something will inspire you!
  2. Find an Email/Chat conversation partner: Maybe you already know a friend/family member with whom you can chat/email in German. If not, you can easily find someone who would love a chance to practice English, and you can work out a system of writing/chatting half German/half English.We recommend the HelloTalk app: click here for more info! You could also try The Mixxer Language Exchange which works via Skype – or try this link to find German speakers near Ann Arbor.
  3. Try Duolingo: Click here for more info about this great, free language learning app. For your post, write some things you learned and/or found interesting. Duolingo works best if you use it 10-15 minutes per day, rather than for a big block of time when an AMD is due ==> write your post about a total of 45-50 minutes you spent on Duolingo over the course of several days.
  4. Attend a Schokoladenstunde, Kaffeestunde or Deutschtisch: Speak German with other UofM students and Max Kade house residents. Write about who was there, what you talked about, and new words you learned. [Note: you can attend these conversation hours EITHER for an AMD, OR to make up an absence, but not both.]
  5. Do anything you like to do, but do it in German: Go out to lunch with a friend who speaks German, go longboarding, go jogging, whatever you like, and speak German while doing it! Maybe see if anyone in your class (or someone in another section) has similar hobbies, and make this a regular thing.
  6. Watch a German movie with subtitles: Write down a few things that happened, and some words/expressions you noticed. Please try to find and post a trailer on the blog! You could also add some brief comments (perhaps in English) about interesting things you noticed about German culture as you watched the movie, as well as your general reactions to the film. Give the film a star rating so other students can decide whether they might enjoy it as well! Finding German filmsClick here to see the great selection of German films on reserve at the Language Resource Center, including dubbed versions of films like The Big Lebowski or the original Star Wars trilogy, from which you can learn a lot. Click here to see highlights of the great collection of German films you can check out from the Askwith Media Library in the UGLi. Many German films are available via Netflix and Hulu.
  7. Read one of the recommended “AMD books” (102 and 221/231 students):  Find the titles and descriptions of these in the “Kursinformation” for your course and find the one you like best at the campus bookstores or online. A popular choice is Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (ordered for 221/231, but accessible for 102 students too). If you’re in 102 and struggling with reading, try Crossgrove’s Graded German Reader, which starts at the 101 level and systematically works it’s way up.
  8. Watch German TV:  To get started, check out these links to German Radio and TV Online. You could watch the 20:00 Uhr Tagesschau (German news), or several episodes of the Tagesschau in 100 Sekunden. Through the ARD website, you can watch Tatort (the ultimate German Krimi show), or find many more shows via this link (e.g. quiz shows, cooking shows, etc.; Unterhaltung = entertainment). You can look on YouTube or elsewhere for soap operas like Türkisch für Anfänger (exceptionally well-written soap about two families from different cultural backgrounds adjusting to life together when the parents fall in love), Das Haus Anubis (about kids living together in a boarding school), Schloss Einstein (also set in a boarding school), Sturm der Liebe, or the classic Verbotene Liebe (=forbidden love). These may be hard to follow at first, but the predictable, addictive storylines help you catch on quickly and are ideal for language learning.
  9. Watch South Park in German: All South Park episodes have been dubbed in German, and used to be freely available online with the option to change the audio to German (via an icon that looks like a weird mouth), while showing English subtitles using the CC (closed captions) button, to help you follow along. We’ve given up on trying to keep up-to-date info here on how to still find South Park in German now – but if you find a (legal) method, post it to your section’s blog for your classmates, and email Hartmut so he can pass the info on to the other sections!
  10. Listen to German music, learn to sing along: The Step into German site, created by the Goethe Institute, is a great starting point if you’re trying to find what young Germans are currently listening to. The URL keeps changing ==> just google “Step Into German” or “Step Into German Music”
    • The “Step Into German” site includes sections on Music, Film, Soccer, and “German(y)”
    • The “Music” section includes the headings “Clip of the Month,” “Music Videos,” “German Charts” etc.
    • Each music video is accompanied by a link to the lyrics in German with a parallel translation in English; often there is also a worksheet.
    • After listening to a song you like, use the lyrics to try singing along (this is great speaking practice!!). If you’re feeling especially brave, make a “lip synch” video and post the video as your post 🙂 If you’re even braver, record your own version!

    Another music option: check out the German and look through the music videos or charts. Listen to a few of the German-language songs you can find. As above, look up the lyrics, sing along, etc. The MTV site uses lots of English so it’s easy to navigate!
    Here are even more music links if you are interested in classical music, German rap, alternative pop, older German bands, Swiss country music, etc. Include a music video in your post and let other students know what good stuff you found.

  11. German Browse their constantly evolving list of ideas and resources to find something you like! Note their motto: “If it sounds too harsh, you’re trying too hard” 🙂
  12. German Art: Go to the University Art Museum (it’s free, beautiful, and a great place to study!) and ask a docent to show you some of their more than 600 pieces of German art, such as Emil Nolde’s Frisian landscape and Max Beckmann’s Begin the Beguine. Look one of the artists up online afterwards and post some info about him/her, and some images you liked. Or skip the museum and find a German-speaking artist you like via these art and architecture links, then post some info and images.
  13. Cook or bake something German: Or just read recipes and plan an elaborate menu for a real or imaginary party! Here is a great site for looking for recipes: They also have fun guides such as “Tipps fürs Grillen” and “Biergartenfeeling für zuhause”.  More food ideas here.
  14. Work on your vocab (or grammar): Make learning vocab fun! Make up silly or interesting sentences using new vocab you want to learn, or record yourself saying the words. Type the word into the PONS widget at the top right of this page and write down some useful example sentences/expressions that come up. Or practice new grammar  the same way: make up silly or interesting example sentences, record yourself saying them, etc. You can always do this instead of some of the more purely “fun” AMD ideas, if you feel that it would be a better (or more enjoyable) use of your time!
  15. Follow German Sports: Want to know whether anyone plays baseball in Germany? Or who the biggest soccer (Fußball!) teams are? Here are links to some sites for exploring sports in German.
  16. Explore a Cultural Topic: Follow up on the culture readings assigned for homework (or any other cultural topic that interests you!) by finding some additional information on your own, and write about what you found.  Your post can also include some of your reactions to what you read for homework, but it should not just be a summary of what you read for homework and your reactions (the grade for that would be a “check minus”): it should also include some additional information you found. Or check out these fun blogs (both in English ==> especially good for 101):  and
  17. Explore German Literature in translation (especially recommended for 101): Find an English translation (or, better yet, a Dual Language edition!) of a novel or a short story by a German author who interests you, read it for 45-50 minutes, then write in English about what you read for 10-15 minutes. You can find translated German literature in the UGLi in the “PT” call numbers, and translated and untranslated German literature in the Grad Library in the 838 call numbers on floor 3 South.  Here are a few possibilities just to get you going. Or ask your instructor for a recommendation!
    • the first bestseller, or the ultimate classic work of German literature: Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Wertheror Faust
    • any collection of stories by Franz Kafka.  The Metamorphosis (sometimes included with the stories, sometimes published separately as a novella) will get your attention right away.  If you get hooked, you may want to try one of his three famous unfinished novels (The TrialThe CastleAmerica). A different starting point would be to watch Orson Welles’ movie adaptation of The Trial.
    • Hermann Hesse: Siddartha, Demian, or Steppenwolf (all great books for college age readers; very popular in the 60s and 70s)
    • East German author Christa Wolf: Cassandra (a provocative alternative perspective on the Trojan War. If you’re a Great Books student, compare it to what you read in the Iliad and Odyssey!)
    • Bertolt Brecht: The Good Woman of SezuanMother Courage or Galileo, or look for some of his poetry
    • Thomas Mann: Death in Venice, or, if you’re ambitious, The Magic Mountain (people who love to read often list this as one of their favorite novels)
    • Friedrich Dürrenmatt: The Visit or The Physicists (dark comedies)
    • Max Frisch: AndorraThe Fire Raisers (both famous plays) or Homo Faber (made into a movie starring Sam Shepard)
    • Heinrich Böll: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (this novel will make you think twice about reading another tabloid paper)
    • Any collection of Wolfgang Borchert’s simple, sad stories about World War II
    • Günter Grass: Cat and Mouse, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, his famous novel about Oskar, a little boy in Danzig in the years before and during World War II. On his 3rd birthday, Oskar receives a tin drum from which he becomes inseparable, and he decides to stop growing…: The Tin Drum
    • Bernhard Schlink: The Reader. Bestselling novel (and Oprah Book Club Selection) which begins with a 15 year old boy’s affair with an enigmatic older woman.  When he finds her again years later, she is being tried as a Nazi criminal. Film version in 2008.
    • If you’re interested in science and exploring: Daniel Kehlmann’s Measuring the World
    • Any of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s somewhat dreamy, sometimes magical, sometimes dark novellas
    • Any of Heinrich von Kleist’s breathless historical novellas, such as Michael Kohlhaas (Coalhouse Walker in Doctorow’s Ragtime is based on Michael Kohlhaas) or The Earthquake in Chile
    • A translation of the Nibelungenlied (on which Wagner’s opera cycle is based)
    • Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet or The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
    • Friedrich von Schiller’s William Tell (in which Tell shoots the apple on his son’s head)

  18. Learn more about German culture, politics, history (especially recommended for 101): Find an English book about German culture, politics or history, read it for 45-50 minutes, then write in English (use German when you can!) about what you read for 10-15 minutes.  Here are a few possibilities just to get you going (most books are available at the library):