Messages - First Semester German - Spring 2004

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1-15-04 1-20-04   1-21-04 1-25-04. 1-27-04
1-30-04 2-2-04 2-10-04 2-13-04 2-14-04
2-16-04 2-18-04 2-22-04 . .



Beginning German students,

Some of you have already received most of this information.  For others it is brand new.  Students are still adding the class, and I still haven’t been contacted by about half of those enrolled.  As a result, I am repeating information I have already sent to some of you.

I have put together a class e-mail list based on the e-mail addresses that some of you have sent me, addresses that I have found in the MSU -Northern Banner databank, and possible addresses for student accounts created by Northern. I’m hoping to have a complete and correct address list ready by the start of next week so that I can get information to everyone at the same time.

If you haven’t already been in touch with me, please respond to this message letting me know if the e-mail address I’ve used is the one you prefer, etc.   You might also indicate if you prefer to be addressed other than by your listed first name.

This e-mail account  ( is the one I will use to send you course information and the one to which you will submit your homework assignments.

Most of you will have questions about how to handle an Internet course, so I’ll run you through an orientation period before you actually start your French study.  You will spend the first week and a half of the semester becoming familiar with the materials I have online and the various procedures I want you to use in this Internet course. 

I will ask you to submit a practice assignment next week, but for now you can read my introduction to online language study

and browse through the links I have on my “useful pages” list .   In particular you should be familiar with the course syllabus, the material on getting started in German, and the class schedule.

I will start sending specific course information and assignments at the start of next week, but don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions at any time.

Enrollment has exceeded my expectations, so the bookstore didn’t order enough texts for everyone.  This may not be a problem since we won’t start in the text for another week or so.  I have contacted the bookstore for more information on texts and will share that info with you as soon as I receive answers to my questions.

More later.




Because enrollments this semester far exceeded expectations, the bookstore is out of French and German texts.   If you have not already done so, drop by the bookstore right away and make sure that your name is on their order list. 

The French class won’t be using the text for a couple of weeks, so lack of texts is not critical.

The need is more urgent for German students, however, since we will start studying the textbook lessons next week.  If you are unable to obtain a book by next week, there is still no reason to panic.  I have so much material online that you can learn much of the first lesson material without the text, and I will provide additional material if necessary.   


Moving ahead

By now you should have read my introduction to my online classes, your French or German course syllabus, and perhaps the pages on getting started in French or German.

Languages Online

FREN 105 Syllabus

GER 105 Syllabus

Getting Started in French

Getting Started in German

This week I want you to work on becoming familiar with the procedures for submitting homework over the Internet.   Read my online discussion of this process.

Electronic Homework Delivery

Then do the sample homework assignment.   Complete either the French or German practice document, and send it to me as an e-mail attachment.  Part of the assignment involves creating the accented letters or symbols that you will use in writing French and German. 

French Practice Document

German Practice Document

For some of you with limited computer skills, these computer details might be as difficult as learning your French or German. Let me know if you have problems with any part of this process.  I can’t help you if I don’t know what you are having trouble with.   I’m a language teacher, not a mind reader.


Electronic Homework Delivery

Things are going pretty well on the practice documents; however, some of you are pasting your documents into your e-mail message box instead of sending them as attachments.  I can still work with them, but this method does create a couple of problems.

When you send me an attachment, I simply open the attachment, and it’s ready to edit.  When the document appears as part of your e-mail message, I have to copy and paste it into a new document before I can edit.  I cannot edit anything  in the e-mail message box.  The copying and pasting process takes just a little extra time, but I will have 36 students submitting a dozen or more documents each week, and the extra time will add up in a hurry.

Pasting the document into the e-mail message box also results in the loss of the formatting, and I have to spend extra time re-arranging items in order to make my corrections and comments.

If you are having trouble with the process, let me know “precisely” where you bog down.  I can’t offer help with specific problems if you just say, “Help. I’m having a problem.”


Practice Documents ????

OK! Maybe it's time to get hard-nosed already. By nature I am a very friendly fellow, and I like to run relaxed and casual classes. However, I work very hard on these classes, and I expect a decent effort on your part.

I have 27 of you beginning language students this semester, and I have given you about a week and a half to become familiar with my online materials and the procedures that I want you to follow. I did not intend for this beginning part of the semester to be simply an extension of your winter break.

The only thing that I asked you to send to me so far is the French or German practice document so that we can get the process working properly before you start sending homework documents a week.

What has happened? Only 10 of the 27 of you have bothered to send me the practice document. If you know how to handle the process, this won't present a problem. If, however, I have to put in several extra hours next week trying to teach the process at the same time that I'm downloading, correcting, and returning several dozen homework documents, I will find it very hard to remain cheerful.

This is the university, and I am your professor. I am not your mommy or your babysitter. I prepare the material, I guide you through the process, I respond to your questions, I correct and comment on your homework, and I evaluate your exams. I will bend over backwards to help you learn, but I won't come hold your hand and make sure that you do your work.

You can be assured that I will do my part in this language learning process. Your success will depend on the degree to which you do your part.


Let the language study begin!

You have had a week and a half to study my online materials. By now you should be familiar with my introduction to online study, the course syllabus, getting started in French or German, and the homework delivery process. You should also have sent me the French or German practice document. If you have questions about any of the above, just click below for the "useful pages". All of the links are there.

I do expect you to know what is in these pages.

Now it's time to move on and study some French or German. For each lesson, I have provided a Plan or study guide. You also find the links to these Plans in the useful pages list. Just click on Plans and select French in Action or Kontakte. Then click on the lesson you want. The link below also takes you to the Plans page.

The Plan will take you step-by-step through your learning process. An audio tape accompanies the Plan and helps you pronounce each item in your lesson.

The tapes are in the mail. If you are in Havre, see Christine Muller in 102 Hagener for your tape. She should receive them sometime tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday. I have sent the tapes directly to those not living in the Havre area. If you are a day or two late getting started on your lesson because you don't have the tape, there is no problem. I have written half a week of review time into the schedule for this first lesson, so you will be able to catch up.

French Schedule --

German Schedule --

As you go through the Plan, you will encounter exercises that I expect you to complete and send to me. An Assignments page gives you a list of the exercises I expect to receive.

Please contact me if any of the assignments are unclear, and I will try to alter the pages to make them more understandable.

I am anticipating that things might move a little slowly as you become more and more familiar with my materials and expectations. Notice on the schedule (linked above and on the useful pages) that I am giving you a two-week window in which to take your exams. If you are a bit behind and aren't ready to take the exam on the first scheduled date, you can have an extra week to prepare without penalty. Don't fail to study the exam section of your syllabus.

More on exams later.

Again, I don't read minds. If there is anything in my material that you have trouble with, let me know right away. I can't resolve your problem if I don't know what it is.

1-27-04    First exercises

Guten Tag,

Some of you are a little confused because you looked at the assignment page and saw that the first exercise is from Einführung (Introduction) B, not Einführung A. 

Start with the Plan, then look at the assignment page for a summary of exercises due. In the Plan, I explain that I am going to jump around a little and start with the verb "kommen" which is in Einführung B. Then I go back to the verbs in Einführung A. I start with "kommen" because it is a "pure" verb. It has no exceptions and will serve as the pattern for all other verb usage. The three verbs covered in Einführung A all have some small exceptions to the "pure pattern". I want you to study the no-exception verb first so you will recognize the exceptions and concentrate on them. 

Again, always start with the Plan.


I have just uploaded my revised schedule. (Click below.) I just wrote off last week because so many of you were unable to pick up your tape. German assignments will now officially begin this weekend. If you don't have a tape yet, see Christine on Monday and get started. I'll send more info on assignments and testing this weekend when I will have an occasional spare moment.



Homework tidbits

Guten Tag,

You should now be working on and submitting homework exercises.   Bookmark the course schedule so that you can refer to it frequently.

Your starting place for each lesson is the Plan.   For the first introductory lesson (Einführung A), go to,

and send me the exercises marked with an asterisk.  

I do suggest that you listen to the tapes as you go through the study guides so that you have an idea how everything should be pronounced.  You should also try to repeat what I’m saying on the tape in order to develop correct pronunciation.  If you haven’t already picked up your first tape from Christine in 102 Hagener, please do so immediately.  

I check my e-mail several times a day, and I am usually able to correct and return your work within a few hours.   I am helping out at South High in Denver by operating a writing lab, working with classes in a computer lab, and building web pages for the English department.  I hadn’t planned to work in Denver, but my wife teaches English at South, so I decided to go work with her and the people I had been socializing with.   I am at South from 6:30 to 3:00, but I’m on the payroll for only about six hours.  That means that I have about 2 ½ hours throughout the day to spend on my Northern classes.  I also work on Northern materials between 3:30 and 7:30 after returning home.  I work Friday evenings only if I’m not engaged in some TGIF function.   I don’t work a set schedule on weekends, but I do try to put in at least a couple of hours each day.    

Some of you are having trouble submitting materials in the format I prefer (a Microsoft Word attachment).   If your home computer doesn’t have Word, let me know, and we’ll work out the best system for your particular setup.   I don’t want you to pass up working at your best times simply because you don’t have Word.  If I have to take time to do a little copying and pasting, I’ll live with it.  

I have divided your week into two assignments, and I would like to have you submit exercises at least twice a week.   If you want to do an exercise or two at a time and send to me daily, that is just fine.  I just don’t want you letting everything go to the end and trying to cram it in.  Your French will soak in much better if you do some work everyday and review often.

Submitting the homework assignments is, of course, only the first step in obtaining a mastery of the material.   Do the exercises several times as self-tests to make sure that you can indeed handle the material without looking up the answers. 

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you still have questions regarding the homework assignments and the submission procedure. 



Return of the homework tidbits

Some of you are off to a great start.  Others have started a bit slowly.  Several have chosen (for whatever reason) not to participate in the process to this point.   It’s your tuition money.  Use it or waste it as you prefer.  

It is your responsibility to refer often to the schedules that I have put online and to be aware of homework and exam timelines.



The homework schedules are meant to serve as guidelines and not as a series of deadlines.  I know that there are good times to study and bad times to study, so I want to give you a little flexibility.   You will learn much more effectively, however, if you study each day and review often.  Try not to get very far behind.  Language lessons don’t “cram” well.  

I will also be able to return your homework more rapidly if you send me exercises at least twice a week.   If you send me a whole lesson all at once, I will have to work on it bit by bit and get it back to you when I can.   I can’t ignore the work sent in by eight or ten other students simply because you sent everything at once.  

I will also give you a little flexibility in your exam schedule.  Note in the class schedule that I have given you a two-week window for taking your exams.  If you are working on schedule, you should take your exam during the first week indicated.  If you are a bit behind, I will allow you to take the exam during the second week without penalty.  You can still take the exam beyond that second week, but each additional week will result in an automatic 10% reduction in your test score.  (See the course syllabus.)

Note that your first exam is scheduled for next week.  I will send more exam information in a day or two. 

Any other questions on your homework assignments or the submission process?


Exam materials

Please notice on your exam description pages



the following:

"You may have any of these pages on the exam or a
selection of items from several pages."

The exams that I am preparing will be in two parts.

1.  A page or two of items in English to be translated
into German or French.
2.  A page of two of items in German or French to be
translated into English.

To assist you in preparing for the translations from
English into the foreign language, I have prepared the
following sample exam pages:



Use these pages to review your material and submit
them to me.  I will make corrections for you.

I recently sent you the link to an English to French
sample exam page. I have made just a few minor changes
to that page.

Now I am sending you the answer sheet that you can use
instead of submitting your translations to me.

I suggest that you print off several copies of these
sample exam pages and practice translating the
material back and forth.  Of course, your exam will
not be identical to these pages, but it will be very


I have e-mailed your exams to Christine.  You will get
your exam from her, and she will direct you to an exam
room.  She is currently working on a list of times
when rooms are available.  I will pass that
information on to you as soon as I receive it.

Remember that you can take this first exam either this
week or next for full credit.

Work on the sample exams pages, but remember that
there is other material in your lesson that could be
included.  Continue to review the Plan and the
homework pages.

Exam Schedule

Christine has established the following exam schedule for this semester based on her own schedule and room availability:



TUESDAYS 10:00-12:00
WEDNESDAYS 12:00-2:00
THURSDAYS 9:00-11:00



Christine is limited in the number of hours per week that suitable rooms are available, and she has to be free to monitor the exams. She will have you leave your materials in her office, and she will direct you to a room near her office so that she can check in frequently.

If the above times are impossible for you, check with Christine right away. She has a few other times when she can accommodate individuals.



1. Don't forget that this is the last week to take your first exam for full credit. If you have a problem with the exam schedule (2-18-04 e-mail message), let Christine know right away. If you show up with a problem at the last minute, she very probably won't be able to accommodate you. She has to get exams to me in the mail each Friday so that I can get them graded and returned right away.

2. Consult your schedules often. Many of you are already about a week or more behind on your homework assignments. Yes, I have am giving you a little flexibility, but if you don't watch your progress carefully, you will fall too far behind, and your grade will suffer.

3. I have put review pages online for your second lesson. You remember the pages of translations that serve as answer sheets to each other? These can be found at the bottom of the Plan and Assignments pages. You will also see them on the Exam Description page as examples of a possible exam format.

4. Have you erased a message that you should have kept. Remember that you can go to the Useful Pages for a link to all the major e-mail messages I have sent out this semester.