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Languages Matter: Why we learn German

Luke Wittingham
Luke Wittingham

Luke Wittingham, Graduate Student in French and Italian Studies:

"I focus my research on mapping queer diasporas in West Africa. I plan to publish extensive literature exposing the inhumane social formations targeting queer communities in Senegal.

As an undergraduate I studied Spanish and French while teaching myself Wolof. After acquiring fluency in both Dutch and Swedish I became very interested in Germanics. German has become an important element of my graduate education. I initially understood Germany’s position in Europe through its historical placement by both the French and Dutch.  Upon studying German, the language and culture has exposed me to an intersectional understanding of contemporary and historical European relationships. I am inspired to move to Berlin to put my studies into context within actual German culture, as well as sample the array of opportunity an international city such as Berlin has to offer."

Students in the Department of Germanics benefit from belonging to a small, supportive learning community with ample opportunities to engage in research, critical thinking, and special projects. 


Why I learn German?

We asked students in our first- und second-year language courses why they learn German.

Here are some of their answers:

Isaiah Back-Gaal, Major: Comparative History of Ideas, Prospective Major: German                       

"I have always been interested in learning languages. Learning a language pushes you outside of your comfort zone and grants you access to entirely new worlds.  I initially started learning German out of curiosity and with trepidation, and have since fallen in love. I love the playfulness of German and the freedom with which I can experiment with the language. I love getting to read stories, watch movies and have conversations in German. As someone interested in history, for me learning a language is another way to access the past and interrogate the present. Studying German is not just about learning the language; it also means studying German culture and the complexities of the history of the German-speaking world. Learning German offers me a new perspective and constantly challenges me to examine and reexamine how I perceive the world."

Erin Price, Sociology Major:

"The German culture has such an influence in our contemporary American life and sometimes I don't think we realize it. Learning the language brings this into perspective for me and helps me appreciate just that! Being that I'm a Sociology Major, I get to dive into the great German minds of Simmel, Tönnies, Marx, Weber, all whose work laid the foundation of many social practices obvious today.  Learning German, I am more excited to study these ground-breaking social theorists. One day, I hope to interpret their work firsthand in order to gain a deeper perspective of our own American culture."