The German language is spoken by 100 million people, predominantly in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Throughout European history, regional variation in dialects of spoken German was significant. In the late 19th century, the language underwent heavy standardization, roughly coinciding with the unification of Germany out of many German-speaking princedoms and empires.
German is one of the closest relatives to modern English, with significant influences on the vocabulary and grammar of English. Even today, many descendant dialects of German exist in the U.S. and elsewhere, such as Pennsylvania German, Plautdietsch, and Hutterite German, dispersed widely across the continental U.S. Modern day German has visible signs of Romantic influence, as does present day English.
As one of the six official languages of the United Nations (along with Arabic, English, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish), German is widely spoken in political and economic contexts, especially in Europe. German literature has also had a significant impact on Western theater and poetic form.
About the Curriculum
All German language courses are oral-intensive (with additional hours required in the Language Lab) and all include individual oral examinations at the end of each term. In Western languages, enrollments are limited to 15 to 18 students in the first three years of study; fourth-year courses use a seminar format, with a usual enrollment of four to eight students.