The MA in German focuses on the development of both research and teaching skills. Most graduate students receive financial support in the form of teaching assistantships. Teaching skills are developed in many ways. After a two-day university-wide orientation, teaching assistants must attend a week-long MCLLC pre-teaching orientation. All first-semester teaching assistants enroll in GER 553, Methods of Teaching German, a course designed to introduce students to the linguistic and psychological theories relevant to foreign-language teaching in addition to methods for teaching the four language skills. Additionally, teaching assistants meet weekly within the framework of GER 653, The Scholarship of Teaching German, a one-credit-hour course that is repeated for four semesters. The course has both a theoretical and a practical aim in that it acquaints the students with recent pedagogical research as well as allowing students to integrate this research into classroom practice. A capstone experience for the teaching assistants revolves around designing and implementing their own pedagogical research project. Designed to provide a forum for open inquiry into a range of educational issues beyond the teaching of foreign-language skills, this course is structured so as to advance the education of teaching assistants from rote technique to purposeful inquiry, from pragmatic preparation to reasoned education, from technical training to the making of a professional.
Teaching assistants usually teach around 12 credits over two semesters, with the first semester’s teaching course a four-credit course in Basic German. All teaching assistants are visited on a regular basis by their supervisor and follow up on classroom visits with a discussion of teaching strengths and areas for improvement. As they progress in the program, teaching assistants assume increasing autonomy for the design of their courses within the general framework of an articulated sequence.
Teaching assistants are expected to carry a full-time course load, which consists of at least nine credit hours, three of which must be for a graduate level GER course. While carrying a full teaching assistantship, graduate students may not exceed twelve credit hours without special permission from both their graduate advisor and the Graduate School. According to the rules of the Graduate School, employment outside of the teaching assistantship also requires approval.