Deutsch im Blick
Zsuzsanna Abrams, University of Texas, Austin
Pub Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-9379630-1-9
Conditions of Use
The textbook covers all major topics that are typically taught in beginning German and includes activities that address all modes of communication as read more
The textbook covers all major topics that are typically taught in beginning German and includes activities that address all modes of communication as well as significant cultural content. It is very practically oriented toward helping students prepare for and adjust to studying and living in Germany, which helps to support and motivate students considering studying abroad. The website and first page of each chapter provide an overview of topics covered in that chapter; a more detailed table of contents of the entire book would be helpful, as would a glossary for the entire book. I also wish there were more writing tasks that could be used as written homework; some speaking assignments can be adapted for this purpose, however.
I found no significant errors. Cultural topics are presented in an unbiased way and invite cross-cultural comparisons. Grammatical presentations are accurate and easy to understand. Vocabulary lists are accurate and appropriate for the topic and level.
The book thoughtfully includes authentic texts from the very beginning, including written and spoken texts by both native German speakers and by German learners. Some of these, such as restaurant menus, are unlikely to become obsolete, while others, such as graphics describing demographic trends, will necessarily become dated. However, the author helpfully includes internet links to current sources and web quests that encourage students to research current information. It would be easy to substitute more current texts where needed, but the majority of texts have staying power. The text includes material not only from Germany but also includes Austria and Switzerland, to a lesser degree.
The book is well written and includes clear and helpful study suggestions to the student as well as clear instructions for activities and exercises. Grammar explanations are clear and do not assume prior grammatical knowledge. Some grammar exercises, however, are quite challenging, since they sometimes use unfamiliar and unusual vocabulary that is not clearly linked to the chapter topics. This is understandable, since the grammar website is designed to be a stand-alone resource rather than an integral part of this text. I understand and appreciate that grammar is not central to this program; however, a bit more formal practice would nicely complement the strong communicative activities. A suggestion for future revision would be to include thematically linked and level-appropriate grammatical exercises in the body of the text rather than on a separate website.
Chapters in both the book and the website all have the same format and include vocabulary lists and activities, videos, unscripted interviews, images, small group work, written texts, writing prompts, popular songs, grammatical topics, pronunciation tips, surveys, and web quests.
The book is well formatted, with clear headings and other signposts to guide learners and instructors. I think it would be difficult to re-arrange the order of chapters in any well-designed first-year language textbook, as the topics are presented and recycled in a principled way to help develop students’ competence. However, it would be easy to skip certain exercises or topics within any chapter, depending on program needs and available time.
Material is presented in a logical fashion. Some thematic and grammatical topics appear in this book in a different order than in some first-year books, but all topics are appropriate for this level and are presented in a level-appropriate way. Topics are introduced first and recycled later for additional practice and deepening understanding. I wish that grammatical explanations and exercises were integrated into the main text rather than kept on, a separate web site. The brief grammar notes in the margin are helpful and do refer to the additional resource of Grimm Grammar, but grammar exercises that are thematically linked to and located in the current chapter would be helpful.
Both book and website are well designed and easy to read, though some exercises are no doubt easy to complete in print rather than on screen; I would recommend having students use a print copy in class and for some homework since it is easier to flip pages than to scroll back and forth to find vocabulary lists, for example. I wish that the book included QR codes as well as URLs to audio files next to the exercises that accompany them, rather than including QR codes on a separate page later in the chapter. Having multiple link sources would make it easier for learners to locate the appropriate files and to use the PDF on screen as well as in print.
I found no significant errors or typos in either English or German.
This book includes significant cultural content from the very beginning, including some linguistic material from Austria and Switzerland. The book invites students to make comparisons to their own cultures and to speculate about the significance of certain cultural practices. More emphasis on non-majority cultures within German-speaking Europe would be beneficial.
The chapters cover the typical topics of first-year language textbooks. The grammar and vocabulary introduced are typical, and enable students to read more
The chapters cover the typical topics of first-year language textbooks. The grammar and vocabulary introduced are typical, and enable students to achieve the communicative requirements for this level. A comprehensive index for the grammar units is provided in the online companion site; I have, however, not found a glossary of all the vocabulary introduced (something that most print textbooks include in an appendix).
While there are minor typos in the PDF version, the book seems error-free. The chapters encourage students to do their own internet research on the topics covered; any changes in informational content can thus become part of the class discussion.
Since the grammar component is based on fairy tale figures and narratives, the content can never go out of style or become irrelevant. Some of the items in the textbook/workbook section might have to be updated soon; exercises based on pop songs can be difficult to make relevant after the songs or groups are no longer in the charts. At some point the videos will have to be updated.
Explanations are kept short and concise. The information on pronunciation is more complex than usual and might contain more than students need. The grammar companion is equally clear and kept simple.
The chapters all follow the same flow and orientation is quick and easy. Due to the stand-alone nature of the grammar companion, the examples provided there are not integrated (in terms of topic, characters etc.) with the chapter topics in the textbook/workbook, and this does minimize consistency.
The text exhibits a high level of modularity; the sections are short and easily assigned individually or combined with others. The book lends itself to various different schedules (5 50-minutes session/week or 3 90-minute sessions etc.).
The chapters follow the same flow and finding specific sections is easy. While the video and grammar companions are also well-organized, the links in my PDF of the book to the grammar site didn't seem active. Being able to click directly from the PDF to the relevant grammar companion would improve the flow.
The visual appeal of the text cannot compete with other, traditional print textbooks on the market. While this might seem a trivial matter, color-coding etc. also helps navigate information and students today are used to effective graphics and design.
Apart from some typos, the grammar is clear and does not draw attention to itself.
There is some diversity in the interviewees that make up the bulk of the video exercises; in the future, more diversity could easily be added. German culture and society are rapidly diversifying; new topics reflecting this shift should be added.
Given that there is no additional workbook, I would like to see more (grammar) exercises included in the text.
The text is meant to be used in combination with the accompanying website. The program covers the essential grammar and vocabulary for elementary and read more
The text is meant to be used in combination with the accompanying website. The program covers the essential grammar and vocabulary for elementary and early intermediate students of German with a very large variety of activities to practice listening, reading and writing that are meant to be used with a partner and for individual work. While the textbook contains more practical and interactive tasks for the students, the accompanying website covers the more theoretical part of the language learning experience, with numerous resources (videos, vocabulary lists, grammar, internet search activities), among which also videos for every chapter with interviews to several characters. Some characters are native speakers of German and some are learners of German. The videos open in a new window that also displays the video script or the English translation, if desired. The chapter videos focus on the chapter vocabulary. One thing that I really liked in the textbook is the introduction to vocabulary lists that appears at the beginning of each chapter. In this introduction, students are guided in the memorization process of vocabulary through eight steps, that teach them a methodology to learn new words. I have not see something similar or detailed strategies to learn vocabulary in the textbooks I have previously used and I think it can make a big difference for students. The website also contains audio files to practice vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as interactive grammar sections that allow students to study, practice grammar and receive immediate feedback on their work. A great feature of this textbook is the QR codes section at the end of each chapter that allows for easy access to the entire textbook content from any portable device (with an internet connection).
The content is accurate.
The content is up-to-date. Everything except for, possibly the videos, will have longevity. Having a large portion of the material online would make updates easy to implement.
The text is very accessible and easy to understand for elementary students.
The text is consistent in the terminology used.
The division in chapters is very clear and similar to other textbooks that are on the market. The first page of every chapter of the textbook introduces the sections of the chapter and what will be covered in each section (vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and videos). This division is consistent throughout the book. The accompanying website is also divided in chapters and the main page of each chapter displays the different sections consistently and clearly. The navigation is easy and straightforward because each section is clearly identified by a self-explanatory symbol indicating what the section is about (for example, videocamera icons for videos, loudspeaker for audio files, @ symbol for internet search activities, etc.)
The textbook and the accompanying website are well organized and presented in a logical and clear fashion.
There is no interface issue and navigation is easy. Images and videos are well displayed.
The book's grammar appears to be correct and free of grammatical errors.
The books presents several cultural aspects of the German-speaking world, which may be different than similar aspect in America. This is obvious in a foreign language setting and students are open to see cultural differences as part of the learning experience. The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
The text is comprehensive and very interesting. I will consider using it for elementary courses. One suggestion that I have, for future updates or revisions, would be to include more written texts for work on reading comprehension and also written texts about cultural aspects of German speaking countries (like for example, holidays, geography, traditions etc...), as well as some resources for instructors (testing program for example).
"Deutsch im Blick" is rich in useful, relevant content and covers an appropriate amount of material for a first-year German textbook. The authors read more
"Deutsch im Blick" is rich in useful, relevant content and covers an appropriate amount of material for a first-year German textbook. The authors have included all of the essentials for language-learners at the elementary level--vocabulary, grammar, culture, language-context videos, and much more. At no point does the textbook seem to be cutting corners. It is fairly easy for the teacher/student to move between the different chapters and the various links, content headings, and index are helpful in navigating the overall content, which goes to almost 500 pages.
The book's explanations seem to be accurate and error-free. Sometimes the speakers in the videos make small grammar mistakes, e.g. when they are international students not yet fluent in German, but in general I do not consider that a big problem.
Overall, the relevance and longevity are good. At this point, however, some of the content is almost ten years old and eventually the writers/editors will have to update it, especially where the various video clips are concerned. (Those clips are part of what makes "Deutsch im Blick" so wonderful.)
The style of the textbook was quite clear. Grammar was explained concisely and was illustrated with relevant examples.
With its clear structure the textbook is very consistent. It takes some time to get used to the format of the book, because you're moving back and forth between the text and the website, but once you're familiar with the guiding elements/structures you'll find them repeated throughout in each of the chapters.
Overall, the modularity is excellent. The instructor will be able to divide up the sections of "Deutsch im Blick" for different assignments quite easily.
As remarked above, I did at times have difficulty moving from one part to another, or finding the right recording/video clip for an exercise. The flow between different elements is a question of design thinking and I think "Deutsch im Blick" would need some work here. I sometimes used the PDF of the textbook on the computer screen and in general that is not a pleasurable experience, especially if I'm trying to move from on part of the text to another. The hard copy of the text was very helpful here, though at times I was dissatisfied with that too. Sometime the size of the print really struck me as too small. That's not good for learners of a new language. If you have them squinting too much they'll be missing all sorts of letters, umlauts, commas, etc., and that matters.
I had some serious navigation problems. Most importantly, links for the interviews would not open up when I clicked on them. Other links opened as they were supposed to, but not these. Why was this? What was the problem? It's a major flaw and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. The QR codes at the end of each chapter allowed me to get what I needed--it's good to build in redundancy like that, and even more redundancy would be useful--but I needed the interface to be better than that. I want to use a free textbook like this, but some of the interface/navigation problems give me pause.
The grammar was solid. I discovered no mistakes outside of the stray stray typo or oversight.
Culturally the textbook was very relevant. Both Switzerland and Austria are included in important ways in the text--so that students as learners of German don't become overly oriented towards Germany. The inclusion of international students was helpful as well. Overall, there is lots of very useful cultural information for everyday life in a German-speaking country. I would have liked to see a little more about the German-Turkish experience in Germany--and for that matter about the experience of non-White/non-Western immigrant communities in the German-speaking world. "Deutsch im Blick" was made before the immigration crisis in Europe and before Merkel allowed a million refugees into Germany, and if the authors/editors update the book I hope they'll integrate the immigrant experience a little more into the new edition.
Overall, I liked "Deutsch im Blick" a lot. For a free textbook it does a wonderful job. The videos, the Grimm grammar, the website, relevant readings, the integration of Quizlet--the textbook package here has so much to offer and easily holds its own against textbooks that cost students $250 or more. We have not yet adopted "Deutsch im Blick" at my university, but are seriously considering doing so. Our reservations have primarily to do with some interface and structure issues, which I noted above. I think that a few design tweaks could help a lot. And also: Would it be possible to create an entirely online/html version of the textbook, i.e. without the PDF? Or perhaps eventually an iPad format? Perhaps that's a tall order, but I hope the UT Austin team is able to continue building and enhancing what they have here. And finally, there's also this: I think that overall the videos are great--but I really would have like to be able to click on a button and get the text, both in German and in English. The fact that that is not there is a real flaw in my opinion.
The book is very comprehensive. Once the learner (or instructor) gets used to the layout and interconnectivity of the book and its various links, it read more
The book is very comprehensive. Once the learner (or instructor) gets used to the layout and interconnectivity of the book and its various links, it becomes easy to follow.
The content is, for the most part, very accurate. I spotted a small inaccuracy in chapter 5 E. (postcard). "Dich" is both capitalized and lower case in the same text.
For the most part, the content of this book is timeless in its relevance. I would suggest changing some of the photos depicting technology to include more modern devices such as smartphones or tablets.
For an introductory course and a beginning student, I found the examples in the grammar sections of Grimm too complicated. American students are not very familiar with German fairy tales. In addition, fairy tale language is more difficult to understand than the German spoken in daily life. The explanation of the grammar points itself is clear but I would simplify the language of the examples, especially in the early chapters where students' vocabulary is extremely limited.
The text is consistent in both terminology and framework.
The format of each chapter is consistent in structure and layout. The grammar section in particular can be easily assigned and reviewed or used as a reference at different points during the course.
The topics are presented in a logical and consistent fashion. It might be helpful to place a little more emphasis on some of the grammatical structures early on in a chapter to facilitate general comprehension. I appreciate how the book immediately personalizes each activity after it has been introduced in order to make the learning process more relevant to the student.
It would be convenient to have the links to the video clips embedded in the text. Otherwise I did not find the interface confusing. I did not try the scanner, however.
I did not come across any grammatical errors in the book.
The cultural relevance pertaining to German culture is excellent. In light of the rapid changing of the German demographic due to the recent influx of new immigrants, students might enjoy learning about the growing multiculturalism of German society. Many students still believe Germany to be the land of the stereotypical tall, blond German.
Considering that it is designed for the first year of study, this book is more than comprehensive. If students were to take advantage of everything read more
Considering that it is designed for the first year of study, this book is more than comprehensive. If students were to take advantage of everything Deutsch im Blick has to offer, they would be fluent within the year.
This textbook is very accurate (I have yet to find any errors). It presents different people with various lifestyles, and I do not feel that there is a certain agenda being forced on the learner.
Deutsch im Blick is already dated by the technology that is referred to in interviews. However, by not trying to be "hip", the textbook will be relevant for a long time. Updates are necessary, but it will be useful for quite some time.
Very easy to understand. New concepts and vocabulary are explained thoroughly.
The format is easy to navigate and students can use it in a variety of ways to fit their learning styles.
The sections are clearly marked and the amount of information presented in each section is conducive to learning.
Although the organization and flow of Deutsch im Blick is excellent, I still choose to organize my course using additional resources and a slightly different order.
There are some links presented that do not work outside of the "region". For example, Drück die 1: https://www.annettlouisan.de/fotos-videos
Excellent grammar and grammar education.
This book presents a variety points of view and is culturally relevant in a manner that fits with what is being taught.
I am very grateful for this resource and plan to use it along with other resources for my courses.
Overall, I thought the book was fairly comprehensive in terms of subject matter and content. I thought the table of contents was well laid out. I read more
Overall, I thought the book was fairly comprehensive in terms of subject matter and content. I thought the table of contents was well laid out. I would have liked an index in back with, perhaps, vocabulary terms and/or verb conjugation.
I found the book very accurate. I did not see any errors.
I thought the content of the book was very relevant and up to date. I, particularly, liked how authentic documents were used. I remember this was a huge shock for me in Germany as an exchange student, and I also use these documents as supplements to my current book. My one concern is that certain demographical charts might not be relevant for long.
I thought that the book had great clarity. It relies a little bit too much on English-German translation for my preferred teaching method, but overall, it was easy to follow.
I thought the book was very consistent on terminology and framework.
Once I broke it down, I thought the text worked well, but I think I would find it a bit overwhelming as a first year language learner. I also teach with the communicative practice, which emphasizes visual/verbal, so I was a bit thrown off that there weren't pictures with labels within the text.
I was able to follow the text for the most part, and I understood the logical flow. In reference to the previous question, as well, I do prefer when the emphasize tends to be on vocabulary through integration, rather than memorizing vocab.
I thought the interface was adequate. Sometimes, it felt a bit overwhelming in terms of business on the page.
I did not find any grammar errors in English or German.
I thought the book did a really great job of showing cultural relevance. For example, I find that most German textbooks have a very outdated vision of what life is really like in Germany today. I liked how it made reference to the diverse origins of people in Germany today.
I really think the authentic documents are an awesome idea. I do not know if this would be possible, but it might be nice to have a few labelled pictures to break up the grammar exercises, as well.
The textbook offers 10 thematically organized chapters that are well structured to incorporate grammar instruction into teaching of culture, read more
The textbook offers 10 thematically organized chapters that are well structured to incorporate grammar instruction into teaching of culture, language and everyday life in German-speaking societies. It does not provide an index or appendix other than extensive vocabulary lists at the end of each chapter. The book would definitely benefit from an appendix that summarizes all grammar structures taught. The only glossary provided is of symbols used on the book. The textbook might also benefit from a glossary of grammar or cultural terms. The language of instruction and of all exercises is comprehensive. However, there is a category "Authentic" that is used for both texts originating in German-speaking media and cultures and written by US students of German as a second language-- this was a bit confusing.
The book's accuracy is definitely up-to-date. Many of the included texts and interviews have been written by or delivered by native speakers of German as well as by professionals trained in German instruction. Because of the involvement of US students of German as a second language, there are some errors in their interviews, but they are always accounted for as mentioned in the introduction. Overall, the book is accurate, though not entirely coherent and consistent in terms of format -- due to the involvement of more than 25 authors of various texts.
The book's content is up-to-date with a few exceptions of political and social phenomena that have changed in the last 4 years. The content will definitely have to be kept up-to-date since many of the texts refer to contemporary culture, politics, and everyday life in German-speaking countries. The chapters are rather long. This is due to the attempt to incorporate grammar instruction within each chapter as inseparable part of teaching culture. While this has the advantage of having only one tool of instruction and learning, including some of the exercises in a separate (online) workbook might benefit students who are used to completing assigned homework outside of the textbook.
For the most part, the prose of the textbook seems accessible. The attempt to include texts from all German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg) and interviews with speakers of Swiss German sometimes make certain parts inaccessible for speakers of standard German. At the same time, compared to other textbooks on the US market, "Deutsch im Blick" is unique in beeing inclusive of these variations of the German language. The book avoids too much jargon and technical terminology, which definitely is an asset.
For the most part, the texts are consistent in terms of terminology and framework. "Deutsch im Blick" offers a rich variety of exercises for developing the students' reading, writing, cognitive, and listening skills. Sometimes, one notices slight inconsistency in the length and difficulty or the format of exercises, but that is perhaps best explained by the large number of authors involved in the project.
Each chapter encompasses roughly 40-50 pages of material, which makes this book easy to use in a classroom. The chapters are 10 plus an introductory chapter, so the book can be adapted to a 13-week or 14-week semester. The exercises offered in each chapter progress from easier to harder in terms of level of difficulty and though often too many, the instructor can select the appropriate amount for their program, depending on the pace of teaching. The format of the chapters is consistent: each chapter starts with an overview of the vocabulary and grammar structures that will be addressed, as well as of the pronunciation guide and the video content provided. This content is well-balanced throughout the chapter and each ends with a relevant vocabulary list. What remains unexplained is the addition of "Grimm Grammar," i.e. why this name? Other parts, i.e. Vocabulary sections, Writing activities etc. do not have specific names.
The book is well organized thematically and the content flows logically from topics such as "Life at the university" to "past time activities" to "career and life in Germany." The content is also logically organized, from introductory units to exercises for application of the vocabulary, pronunciation, or grammar structures. One wonders why the book opens with an arrival in Wuerzburg (South Germany) and concludes with a journey to Berlin (the capital)? This remains puzzling, when one realizes that from the first chapter (on Wuerzburg), we are presented with various speakers of German, e.g. from Kiel (North Germany) and Switzerland.
The textbook's interface is well-designed, easy to navigate and similar to other German language textbooks on the US market. This makes it easily accessible to students of German as a second language. Perhaps, the number of symbols used in the textbook (currently 16) can be reduced to max. 10 and the icons used for the symbols themselves need to be simplified and reworked. An icon referring to one of the brothers Grimm's fairytales sometimes appears confusing to beginners in German who might not be familiar with that cultural text. for instance, the symbol for "group activity" are several animals on top of each other, i.e. the Bremer Musicians, but this arrangement of animal figures might appear awkward to an Us student.
The text does not contain grammatical errors in my opinion. It is carefully proof-read and edited. As already mentioned, the only errors appearing are in written texts or interviews by Us students of German as a second language, which has been already mentioned by the authors.
The book contains a variety of contemporary and up-to-date references to German-speaking cultures and societies. One asset of the book is that it not only is inclusive of most variations and several dialects of German, but also of the language and prose of learners of German.
"Deutsch im Blick" offers the value of inclusive and up-to-date textbook that focuses on culture and language alike. The main assets of the book are that it incorporates grammar into teaching everyday life, provides multiple perspectives by both native speakers of German and of students of German as a second language, and offers a variety of original texts, videos, and audio files that help learners encounter and analyze contemporary culture in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg.
The text provides a thorough and appropriate overview of German for the beginning learner. It is well-balanced in the amount of content dedicated to read more
The text provides a thorough and appropriate overview of German for the beginning learner. It is well-balanced in the amount of content dedicated to grammar, culture, and authentic practice with the language. The text also provides a variety of activities for instructors and students to work with, including individual, partner, and group interaction, which are ideal for communicative and collaborative work or “solo” work. The text also offers multiple means of activities that reach and accommodate multiple learning styles: visual, aural, and “hands on”, and balances reading, writing, listening and speaking practice. Additionally the text provides the teacher and student with a thorough overview and description of the book’s layout, describing and guiding the reader through the various facets the text offers, whether the Grimm’s Grammar, reading exercises, or online tasks and the like. In doing so, the instructor and student have the opportunity to work with multiple types of activities that are intertwined with authentic content, for example, the use of the map of Würzburg and also the multiple audio/video samples of interviews. I also enjoy the fact that one can utilize the text and access multimedia content from a Smart Phone, giving the text a “mobile” feature where learners can utilize content on the go. If I were to provide any criticism it would be the length of each chapter. It is always tricky to balance the appropriate amount of material and content within a text. Of course there are approaches where instructors can pick and choose specific pages/activities/content from a particular unit to cover in class, but, a chapter of close to 40 pages, in my opinion, is a bit long.
Yes, after looking through each of the chapters, their individual activities, explanations, grammar explanations and vocabulary lists, this text’s content is very accurate. The language used is comprehensible, yet challenging; without being too overbearing. The level of difficulty increases chapter by chapter, and the exercises include very precise and concise examples of authentic German. The content is objective and unbiased, a very nice aspect to the text. It provides a very straightforward overview of German and is very inviting to the new learner. This is particularly apparent to me in the sections about university life, food, family and travel, and politics.
The text does a nice job of balancing the “classics” of German, for example, bringing in aspects of Goethe, yet introducing contemporary artists such as Annett Louisian. At the same time, it provides accurate portrayals of university life, day-to-day life with food examples and, as a nice added portion, perspectives from American students and their experiences in German-speaking areas. I think this is a great way to attract the beginning learner of German because it provides familiarity that students can relate to. I enjoyed how the text balanced the portrayal of a smaller city such as Würzburg along with Germany’s capital of Berlin, which demonstrates the variety of urban life in Germany. I also enjoyed the introduction of dialects and difference between these in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Moreover, I believe the overview of politics and the German political parties is essential and appropriate in staying relevant. All of these aspects will carry on without becoming obsolete.
The text is very clear and consistent. This is evident from the very beginning which includes easy-to-read explanations of the multiple aspects of the text. One doesn’t need to jump back and forth between pages to try and figure out the layout.
The book is designed very consistently. Each chapter is designed so the user is not surprised in how to navigate, which allows for easy adjustment and for the focus to simply be on the.
I believe the text’s modularity is very good. As I mentioned in #5, I really enjoyed the book’s consistency, which allows the learner to really focus more on the content, versus first needing to get a lay of the land of how the chapter is designed, then adapt to the content. This, I think is a very positive aspect. At the same time, I think the length of the chapters is a bit cumbersome, though, perhaps the authors did this intentionally to allow users to pick and choose from the variety of content available within each unit.
The topics progress in a nature I would want the beginning learner to be exposed to. The content is structured as to give a complete overview without being overwhelming, yet does so as to challenge the learner each step of the way.
I really enjoyed the interface. I appreciate the mix of authentic characters (native speakers and American students), the Grimm’s characters, and use of authentic images, tables, charts, and a plethora of web content to provide for further research for the learner.
The grammar was very appropriate and accurate. Each chapter provides an ample amount of review and practice, which is all well-balanced with the interactive content.
The text’s cultural components are very well-integrated and appropriate. Students are introduced to a variety of cultural nuances that are common to the German-speaking countries, and this is done tastefully.
I enjoyed reading through this text and getting a glimpse at the variety of authentic practice and aspects of the German language and culture. It is clear that a tremendous amount of work went into its design, which was very carefully thought out. Some texts I’ve utilized in the past can focus too much on certain aspects. I got the impression that Deutsch im Blick hits multiple areas a beginning learner should be exposed to. Although the units may be heavy on length, the content and practice are very practical and seem that they would make for effective learning environments.
The book covers the areas needed in an introduction to the German language. read more
The book covers the areas needed in an introduction to the German language.
The book is free of errors.
The book is up-to-date and should endure.
The book is clear, so important in a language book.
This well-edited book avoids inonsistancies.
The text can be divided into sections and taught at any pace.
The sequence of grammar and organization of the text is clear and logical.
The book is free of interface issues.
The grammar is correct, so important in a language book.
The book is inclusive. However, I am of Austrian descent and would appreciate a larger place for German-speaking Austrians. There are subtle differences with Germany.,
I think this German text book will be a welcome addition to the open textbook selection.
The text includes a wealth of vocabulary, so much so that students might feel overwhelmed by it, especially since there are two vocabulary sections read more
The text includes a wealth of vocabulary, so much so that students might feel overwhelmed by it, especially since there are two vocabulary sections per chapter. I’m not sure how useful the vocabulary at the beginning of each chapter is to understanding the content of the videos or written excerpts that follow. All grammatical structures that are normally included in a first-year German textbook are covered in “Deutsch im Blick,” although some areas ought to be covered more thoroughly and perhaps with more examples.
Set mostly in Würzburg, the text is clearly focused on Germany. Switzerland and Austria are mentioned but not discussed in much detail. I found the discussion on the various German dialects refreshing since dialects are still an integral aspect of German culture but are usually only mentioned in passing in other textbooks.
The publication is several years old and thus does not include references to the latest political/cultural developments in Germany, notably the refugee crises and the rise of right-wing populism in Germany and Europe. However, since it is web-based, it would be fairly easy to update the book’s content and incorporate recent events/developments.
In general, the grammar explanations on the Grimm companion website are clear and concise and are followed by relevant examples, although I find the examples too complicated at times for a beginning-level German student. And while the use of fairy tales and fairy tale characters is innovative and amusing, it adds yet more new vocabulary. Also, some grammatical structures should be explained in more detail. For instance, I found the explanation on word order in declarative sentences especially superficial. It’s not enough to say that basic declarative sentences in German follow subject-verb-direct object word order. There is a section on adverb placement later on the Grimm Grammar companion site but I think it would be beneficial to link that to the word order section for a more comprehensive explanation. I also found many of the early activities in the textbook and on the Grimm companion website too difficult. The authors often use structures not yet discussed and, more importantly, use unfamiliar vocabulary. For example, in chapter 3 of the Grimm companion site, students are asked to negate nouns with a form of “kein” but the translations/genders of the nouns they are supposed to negate are left out. The same is true in chapter 5, where students are supposed to fill in the blanks with an appropriate possessive determiner but have no way of knowing the gender of the noun it modifies. In the textbook, students are asked to incorporate modal verbs in personal questions/answers in chapter 3 but modal verbs are not formally explained until chapter 4. And while authenticity is great, some of the texts in the early chapters, are way too advanced for students to understand. An example would be the article about the “Eiscafé” in chapter 3.
For the most part, the book is consistent in its use of terminology. A minor point: There are variations on spelling of “essen.” Sometimes it spelled as “ißt,” in the book but this variation is not mentioned on the Grimm Grammar companion website in the section that explains the conjugation pattern for the verb “essen.” The variation in spelling is explained in chapter 3 but only after students are asked to use it in an activity. This could be confusing to a beginning learner. It would be helpful if the authors included a note to explain this variation early on and also mentioned that with the spelling reform of 1996, many words that were formally spelled with an Eszett are now spelled with double “s.” This obviously does not pose a problem as long as there is an instructor to explain this but as more and more colleges and universities move to online language instructions, clarity is essential. Also, the authors use the terms conversational past and present perfect interchangeably. In the section “Verbs,” on the Grimm Grammar site, it would be helpful if it were made clear that both terms are used to refer to the same tense.
Instructors should have no problem assigning different units within a given chapter as they are clearly outlined on the chapter index page. Though, as pointed out elsewhere, it might be preferable to print out the chapters in order to avoid having to scroll up and down the pages to complete a given activity.
The book is well organized and clearly structured. The chapter topics build on one another and grammatical structures from earlier chapters are reviewed and practiced in later ones. The layout is pretty clear and consisted and should pose no problems for students and instructors. I was a little surprised by the sequencing of the grammatical structures. Two-way prepositions do not appear until very late and neither the genitive case nor adjective endings get much attention.
The quality of videos was generally pretty good, though I had issues with the sound at times. Especially those recorded in public spaces can be hard to understand. I found it a little cumbersome to have to go to the end of a chapter to access the videos and scroll back up to complete the activities. Also, perhaps my barcode reader is too sensitive but it often read the wrong video and it took several tries to get the correct one. I realize that the video clips are accessible from the chapter index site but it would be great if the links were embedded within the chapters, next to the activities that require them. The book would furthermore be more user-friendly if it incorporated an interactive platform rather than pdf format. To complete the activities within “Deutsch im Blick,” students need to print out the chapters. I also found that the interactive exercises on the Grimm Companion website have too little variation. It would be a good idea to include more than just “true/false” and “fill in the blank activities.” The authors mention technological limitations but I’ve been using interactive platforms that allow for a more varied exercise format for many years now.
Except for a few typos I found no major errors.
Apart from the interview with a Döner-Imbiss owner and the chart documenting immigration patterns to Germany, the text does not include much information on residents with other racial or ethnic backgrounds. But since the text mostly focuses on the experiences of American exchange students in Würzburg, this omission is understandable. The book provides a wide spectrum cultural experiences that would be of interest to any student interested in studying in Germany.
Clearly, a lot of thought and work went into developing this book. I think the authentic material is great, even if it's difficult at times. I could see myself using this book in my on-campus classes but not for my online courses. An online homework component that is easy to grade would be very much appreciated. Finally, I think the short video segments of UT-Austin students are great and will hopefully encourage other American students to study in Germany for a semester or year.
The text is comprehensive in terms of basic vocabulary and grammar. That is less the case in terms of culture. There is considerable information read more
The text is comprehensive in terms of basic vocabulary and grammar. That is less the case in terms of culture. There is considerable information about Germany and Switzerland, less on Austria.
I did not spot any inaccuracies.
The text does not contain material that would be outdated in the foreseeable future. The user interface, however, is somewhat dated.
The explanations are clear and appropriately geared to language beginners.
Each unit is presented in the same format and order, making it easy for students to orient themselves.
The units can stand for themselves, although since language learning is built up sequentially, learners are likely to use the units in the order presented. The modularity presents the opportunity for the content to be used in other contexts. I have used units from the Grimm Grammar, which are easily used in different contexts.
The overall structure of the text is logical and consistent. The order of the material presented is consistent with that traditionally followed in elementary language textbooks. As such, this text can be used effectively as the basis for a elementary level German class for 2 semesters, or as refresher for intermediate level students.
The interface, as laid out in the textbook is clear. However, the connection between the textbook and the online resources on the web site is confusing. The links to online resources from the textbook are not consistent, nor clearly indicated what are linked resources and which are not. Also, some links open in new tabs/windows; others do not. Using QR codes to find resources I find quite awkward. I had trouble finding the videos from the textbook and ended up having to use the site index page. Some of the issues (such as QR codes) may be related to the fact that the interface is not consistent with current web page design (for example, effective adaptive design).
I found the use of videos by both native speakers and language learners to be effective, presenting both models close to learner’s interlanguage and the language models they aspire to. However, for some of the videos in the early units the sound quality was poor, while others not only had poor audio, but also used a level of language far beyond level of beginners (vocabulary, speed, enunciation). It’s great to have unfiltered authentic language, but for students to want to interact with the videos, the topics should be more likely to be of interest (not organization of a university).
The textbook covers all basic concepts of grammar appropriate for the first year. It emphasizes the practice of all four skills: reading, listening, read more
The textbook covers all basic concepts of grammar appropriate for the first year. It emphasizes the practice of all four skills: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The reading passages are almost exclusively short non-fiction texts. With the exception of a few songs, there are no literary texts that students are introduced to.
The textbook is for the most part accurate. I came across some striking translations of German terms. One example: “Wohngemeinschaft” is translated as “Mansard apartment,” which is obviously incorrect. The opening/introductory videos are cute: they feature an American student visiting Würzburg. In some instances, these students mispronounce words. I wonder how effective is for learners to hear (in a textbook) the incorrect and heavily accented pronunciations of German words.
The topics discussed in the book are relevant for students enrolled in US institutions of higher educations. After completing the course, students will be well prepared for a semester-long or year-long study abroad in Germany. They are given appropriate amount of historical and cultural background information. The book avoids discussing current politics, which diminishes the risk that the material will be outdated soon.
The grammar presentation is contextualized in an unnecessarily complicated way. The grammar drills use fairy tale characters and mix up details from individual fairy tales, which adds another level of complication. Students need to review all of these fairy tales in order to follow to complete the grammar drills correctly. I found those exercises confusing. It seems that students need to review all the German names of fairy tale characters before completing even the most basic assignments.
The textbook uses both German and English terminology to explain grammar, but not in the most consistent way. Some times both terms are used, sometimes – just the German ones. This is particularly evident in the Table of contents of each chapter. Some chapters feature the category “Recommended” (under Grammar), some chapters – don’t.
Overall, the textbook is well balanced. All the material is divided in sections of roughly equal length. The chapters are similar in length and structure as well.
The chapters share the same basic organization. They flow well, while at the same time they allow the instructor to be flexible in the selection of assignments and exercises. My preference would be that the grammar is introduced somewhat earlier in the chapters and is practiced in more basic drills.
The website is easy to navigate. All activities open quickly and play well.
The grammar concepts are presented clearly and accurately. My main criticism applies to the following issues: 1) Terminology. The textbook uses the term “conversational past” instead of “Present Perfect” (for Perfekt). This leads to confusions and inconsistencies (see, for example, how passive voice past tense is explained). 2) Sequence and order. This textbook chooses to introduce simple past tense (Impefekt) quite late in the book (Chapter 10), even after subjunctive (Konjunktiv II). This is quite unusual. Students need to be using these forms much earlier. 3) Some chapters are very heavy on grammar (for example Chapter 5), some have a minimal amount of grammar exercises (Chapter 3). 4) It would be helpful if the “Site Index” indicates which grammar topics are covered in which chapters.
This textbook is focusing on topics and themes that are key to understanding German culture.
This textbook describes itself as a “language program for beginning and early intermediate students of German.” With the wealth of materials read more
This textbook describes itself as a “language program for beginning and early intermediate students of German.” With the wealth of materials contained within its 10 chapters, the curriculum could certainly be used over the course of 2 or 3 semesters, depending on how the instructor selects and tailors it to suit a given program’s needs. Its content is mostly expected for such courses, covering the typical cultural topics for first-year German programs. There is almost TOO much to choose from: video interviews with Americans in Germany and Germans, video segments filmed on site in Germany, webquests, vocabulary, audio files for pronunciation, and in-class activities targeting all four competencies. The chapters are online in pdf format and can be easily printed out for a hard copy. In terms of grammar, the curriculum's sequencing does containing some eye-brow-raising choices not normally encountered in German textbooks. Some of the more advanced structures are Konjunktiv II im Pr?sens, Infinitivs?tze, Subordinierende Konjunktionen, das Imperfekt, and das Perfekt. Notable absences include: der Genitiv, das Passiv (understandable for the level), a more targeted handling of dative and accusative prepositions (appear as side notes), and adjective endings. Should an instructor wish to include a structure not covered in the lesson material, the text provides links to its accompanying grammar website, “Grimm Grammar,” a separate platform quite comprehensive in scope. It provides explanations and examples in English, as well as online exercises for students. Not all grammar topics presented on the site appear on “Deutsch im Blick.” As a result, the grammar is not as integrated into the lessons and cultural topics as the vocabulary is, despite the self-described focus on communication and learning language in and through use. While certain grammatical structures are targeted through writing and speaking opportunities relevant to each chapter’s specific cultural content, the grammar (explanations and online exercises) is largely imparted to students through a fairy-tale framework. This is certainly creative and humorous, but presents practical obstacles due to a completely separate vocabulary. Returning to "Deutsch im Blick," the TOC for each chapter is clear and fairly detailed, although no clear visual overview of all chapters and their content on one page is to be found. The site index comes the closest, yet does not provide a single-page overview of what grammar is covered in each chapter. If there is a glossary or verb charts such as one often finds at the end of basic language texts, I have yet to find it. Sorely missing is an online “lab manual,” i.e. a workbook or manual of activities expected with language textbooks that are integrated into the textbook and are easily gradable as homework. A model for such a lab manual would be something like MyGermanLab, which can be easily linked up to an instructor’s gradebook while also providing students a multitude of language-learning resources and practice.
Overall, I did not notice any inaccuracy. I noticed a few small typos / formatting oddities, but these were very few and far between. In terms of bias, the text as it stands is very much tailored to UT Austin and its specific program in Würzburg. Most of its videos are shot in Würzburg, although the last chapter deals with Berlin. The text does address Austria and Switzerland, but they are short detours, as Germany is the real focus. An audience of American university students is assumed.
The text is several years old and many links are out-of-date (not functioning). As a result, current issues/debates in German-speaking Europe (refugee crisis, the problems facing the EU, latest World Cup, immigration/migration, etc) are not included. Instructors should be sure to test all links before implementation in the classroom. Generally speaking, though, the broadness of the cultural topics as well as their fundamental relevance to learning the language allow the text to be practical for instructors and stand the test of time, at least for a few more years. That being said, a clear effort is made to formulate writing and discussion prompts dealing with topics of interest and relevance to contemporary college students (music, sports, movies).
“Deutsch im Blick” instructs and explains in English in the first few chapters before segueing to German in the last half. More complicated tasks or complex topics (dialects, historical development of the language) remain in English even in later chapters and/or are nicely scaffolded to walk students through their completion. The margins are full with extra information over culture and grammar, which can lead the text to appear visually crowded and overwhelming. “Grimm Grammar” describes grammatical concepts and structures in English, and keeps most explanations brief. My concern is the specificity of the vocabulary in its examples and online activities; the fairy-tale framework is certainly cute, but it impedes easy implementation, as students must first familiarize themselves with vocabulary specific to this topic. Moreover, the activities and examples themselves are at a language level a bit too high for beginning students. Students would be more likely to devote more time to deciphering the meaning of unfamiliar German words, rather than concentrating on the grammatical structure itself.
The text is consistent and consistently organized. Each chapter contains the same sections, which helps instructors organize lessons. It does a good job at recycling material from previous chapters as well.
The site index for each specific chapter allows for easy use of the different components of “Deutsch im Blick.” The pdf-chapters would seem to make more sense as a hard-copy course packet, as they become cumbersome in electronic format when one must continually scroll through the abundance of activities filling each chapter. There are many sections in each chapter of the book, which allows for easy use of it once instructors are used to the basic template. Links are embedded in the pdfs to refer students to pertinent grammar reviews and explanations (from “Grimm Grammar”). The amount of material in “Deutsch im Blick” does require instructors to pick and choose what can feasibly be covered and thus put extra effort into (re-)organizing chapter content for their classes. At the same time, it is preferable to have too much material from which to draw rather than too little.
“Deutsch im Blick” presents a clear organizational structure, and flows from one chapter to the next by building upon the earlier chapters. Later chapters point students to reviews from previous chapters and do make an effort to recycle grammar. Students and instructors should have no difficulties accustoming themselves to the layout and will be able to predict the organization of each chapter – both in online navigation and in the pdfs. I do find some of the grammar sequencing and omissions surprising, but I also do not know how UT's German Department structures their course designed to follow "Deutsch im Blick," so perhaps it makes more sense in the organization of their overall program.
The links embedded within the PDF versions of the text make it easy to move throughout the book, and also outside of the book to supplementary materials online. As noted above, a visual overview of the chapters and their content on one page would be beneficial. For instance, it is not so simple to pick a specific grammatical concept and then backtrack its introduction to a specific chapter in the curriculum.
I did not encounter any grammatical errors.
The text is not very inclusive of various races and ethnic/cultural backgrounds. Since the videos were recorded using then-real UT students, the authors were subject to understandable limitations. However, topic areas dealing with current issues with migration, citizenship, and immigration are not thematized.
As an instructor, I very much appreciate the sheer amount of material provided by “Deutsch im Blick.” With activities and exercises designed to target all four competencies, short oral presentations, webquests, scaffolded writing assignments, peer-review activities, and countless videos encourage students to focus on communicative interaction and pursue their interests in German culture through multimedia. Effort is made to encourage students to focus on their pronunciation, explore German websites, and learn how to talk in German about topics of interest to university students. Pronunciation is both described in the pdf-chapters and modelled through audio and video recordings. Vocabulary help is offered through already-made Quizlet flashcards and study tools (linked to the website). Drawbacks to adopting “Deutsch im Blick” include the lack of a “lab manual” or gradable / self-correcting “online workbook,” the lack of a test bank, and its specificity to UT’s German program. While “Grimm Grammar” is certainly a good resource, it would seem more trouble than it is worth to try to use it as an educative tool in class, given its higher-level examples, genre-specific vocabulary, and lack of integration with the topics presented in “Deutsch im Blick.” Overall, I have a favorable impression of this text and could imagine myself adopting and adapting it under the right circumstances. Kudos to UT-Austin!
The book covers most areas of the subject, an introduction to German, appropriately. There is no comprehensive index or glossary in the text itself, read more
The book covers most areas of the subject, an introduction to German, appropriately. There is no comprehensive index or glossary in the text itself, but there is a link to an index of topics. While Germans, Swiss, and Americans are interviewed, an Austrian or two would have been welcome. Exposure to various accents (including non-native speakers) is a welcome component.
In general there content is accurate, error-free, up to date, and unbiased. A few misprints and lack of coverage of gender neutral options are reported at the end of this review.
The topics and the presentation of grammar are, on the whole, up-to-date, such that the text will serve its purpose for some time to come.
Aside from occasional asides on linguistic points in articulation, the text is clear, lucid, and easily accessible. Jargon, if used, is glossed and explained satisfactorily. One might squabble on an occasional point, but this does not impact the overall impression of clarity.
The book has been carefully edited, so that inconsistencies are not noticeable.
Indeed the text can be used in any variety of sequencing, although there appears to be no compelling reason to alter the proposed order of presentation.
There are no points when the sequence of presentation seem out of place. Some might start, for example, with present perfect before simple past, but that remains an option (see modularity) and not a major hurdle.
My interactive navigation was successful. Even a rare misconnection was easily and quickly resolved, sometimes just by clicking anew. Handy headers allow for negotiating the various categories of any given page.
While I would teach word-order differently and more comprehensively, the book's grammar presentation serves its purpose, and allows students to find out more if they so desire.
The book embraces tradition and change, presenting others engaging with the culture of the German-speaking world.
The book could be used oner two semesters, or three. Editorial suggestions that should be easily implemented follow; I make no claim to comprehensive coverage. No pronunciation of <ä>,<ö>, <ü> does not occur when the alphabet is read. 34 Chemie - pronunciation?; passim Familie 36 Reportage 48 Beige 58 Mädhcen > Mädchen 61 Studenten > Studierende oder Studentinnen und Studenten, auch 71 72 Vorlesungverzeichnis [sic] used along side of Vorlesungsverzeichnis 99 Vocabulary (Kap. 2): Should include all plurals (Unibibliothek; das Schwarze [sic] Brett) Klasse(nzimmer) is not used at universities 107 right margin: Sequencing unfortunate: "Always learn the nouns with the article" followed by "These ideas are suggestions only..." 129 Danke schoen. > schön 221 This link is incorrect (11.V.2016) http://www.steuer-forum-kirche.de/church-tax.pdf 263 The use of 'n' with articles are not exceptions; instead, place names with articles follow different rules 265, 269, 288, 376 ihrer > Ihrer 268, 282, 283, 288, 357, 465 ihre > Ihre 274, 359, 418 ihren > Ihren 281 ihr > Ihr (zweimal) + 359 + 376 281 ihnen > Ihnen 282 nach Ihre speziellen Wünsche > nach Ihren speziellen Wünschen 319 VErletzung > Verletzung 376 ihres > Ihres 394 Meinun > Meinung
Table of Contents
Chapter 0 INTRODUCTION
Chapter 1 ANKUNFT IN WÜRZBURG
Chapter 2 AN DER UNI
Chapter 3 DER ALLTAG UND DAS STUDENTENLEBEN
Chapter 4 FREIZEIT UND AUSGEHEN
Chapter 5 FAMILIE, FESTE UND FEIERTAGE
Chapter 6 DURCH DEUTSCHLAND UND DIE WELT REISEN
Chapter 7 GESUNDHEIT UND FITNESS
Chapter 8 DAS TRAUMLEBEN: BEZIEHUNGEN, WOHNEN UND DIE KARRIERE
Chapter 9 WAS IST DEUTSCH?
Chapter 10 AUF NACH BERLIN!
About the Book
This textbook is newly revised (Mai 2013) and includes all 10 chapters of Deutsch im Blick. It accompanies http://coerll.utexas.edu/dib/, the web-based first-year German program developed and in use at the University of Texas since 2008, and its companion site, Grimm Grammar http://coerll.utexas.edu/gg/. Deutsch im Blick is an open access site with free and open multimedia resources, which requires neither password nor fees.
Deutsch im Blick has been funded and created by Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services at the University of Texas, and is currently supported by COERLL, the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning UT-Austin, and the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE Grant P116B070251 & P116Y090057) as an example of the open access initiative.
About the Contributors
Zsuzsanna Abrams, Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, with an affiliation in German Studies, at UC Santa Cruz. Her teaching interests include applied linguistics, language pedagogy, second language acquisition, intercultural communication, discourse analysis, and computer-mediated communication.