Learning a Language
Every Dartmouth student has to learn a language before graduating. It requires three levels of language courses; if you are already proficient in a language, you only take two levels. Because I speak Sinhala, a language spoken in Sri Lanka, I will take two levels of a language.
I decided to take German 01 this fall term. To be completely honest, on my first day, I thought I walked into the wrong class. Dartmouth language classes tend to be extremely intensive. You are thrown headfirst into speaking and writing in the language. English is barely spoken during class time. This is known as the Rassias Method, developed in 1964 by John Arthur Rassias, a Dartmouth Professor. The professor spoke in German the entire class, except for five minutes at the end. Surprisingly, I was still able to understand the content of the class and engage with the material.
I have three types of homework to complete for each class, interactive homework online, textbook homework and grammar worksheets. I take around three hours to complete this, which is a big part of my day. The exams are bimonthly quizzes, some oral assessments and a final exam. We also have "drill", which is an extra fifty-minute class, three days a week, where you converse with a group of students in German led by a fluent German speaking student. Drill is intended to help with sentence structure and fluency.
German has genders for all objects, which is a concept I am unfamiliar with, so it was difficult to wrap my head around at first. I learn around forty new words every day. Even though the class has been taking up the most amount of my time, I find myself enjoying the process. It is so rewarding to read a German text and be able to understand a part of it. Going from not knowing a single German word to being able to read basic German in a few weeks is an amazing accomplishment for me.
If you are worried about the language requirement, I can assure you that it will be a great experience regardless of the difficulty!