Pitt German Essay Contest

English Department undergraduates may submit work to a number of writing contests sponsored by the department or other units of the University:

George B. Anderson Awards

Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette drama critic and member of the English Department, annually sponsors up to three monetary awards for published theater reviews by college students. Any undergraduate in any college in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is eligible. For details, contact cchr@pitt.edu, crawson@post-gazette.com, or 412-263-1666.

Carol Kay Essay Award

This award is for the best undergraduate essays on British Literature between 1500 and 1900. See contest details.

James Snead Memorial Award

This award is for the best undergraduate essays dealing with one or more of the following: film, African American literature, German literature, and American literature. See contest details and deadlines.

J.K. and Gertrude Miller Award

This award is for the best undergraduate essays dealing with medieval or 20th century British literature, commonwealth or global literature in English, world literature in English translation, or literary or cultural theory. See contest details and deadlines.

Marlee and James Myers Award

This award is for the best undergraduate essays in lower-level literature courses taught by graduate teaching fellows. See contest details and deadlines.

The Ossip Award, Koloc Award, and Composition Program Writing Awards

Prizes are awarded annually to honor outstanding work by student writers in any of Pitt's composition courses. See contest details and deadlines.

Edwin O. Ochester Poetry Award

Sponsored by Edwin Ochester in memory of his father, $250 is awarded annually for the best poem written in undergraduate poetry workshops ENGWRT 1210 or 1730. Deadline is normally in the spring. Consult the Writing Program with questions.

Edythe Portz Prizes

The Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review awards prizes of $250 to the best essay published in each semester's issue. Essays may deal with any subject in the arts and sciences and should be at least 10 typed, double-spaced pages in length. The Review adjudicates the prizes by soliciting the opinions of faculty referees. For further details, visit www.pur.honorscollege.pitt.edu/index.php.

Film Studies Undergraduate Writing Award

This award, which includes a $250 prize, honors outstanding essays on film. The deadline normally falls in January; consult the Film Studies Program's office in 624 Cathedral of Learning for current guidelines.

McDowell Award in Nonfiction

This is awarded to the best undergraduate nonfiction writing submission. A prize of $1,000 in tuition remission is awarded upon faculty nomination. This award honors the late Pittsburgh television newsman Al McDowell. For details, contact the Writing Program.

Montgomery Culver Award in Fiction

This is awarded to the best short story written by an undergraduate currently enrolled in a fiction class at Pitt. Deadline is in the spring, and the $100 prize is adjudicated by a special panel. For details, contact the Writing Program.

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Undergraduate Paper Prize

Undergraduate entries must have been prepared initially for a course, seminar, independent study, or internship at Pitt, and should represent the student’s original work. See contest details and deadlines.

language program

About the Language Program

Largest and Most Diverse German Program in the Region

The language acquisition program at the Department of German is the largest in the region, with over 300 students attending courses each term. Over the last several years our program has produced a record number of Fulbright and DAAD scholarship winners, as well as some of the area’s most prominent teachers of German. At present, we have the largest number of current majors in Western Pennsylvania and many participants as well in our certificate and minor programs.

Beyond Grammar: Communicative Language Learning

German students at the University of Pittsburgh don’t just learn a language; they learn more about the world and about themselves.

Every German language class at the University of Pittsburgh allows students the chance to build language proficiency in the four basic skills areas—speaking, writing, reading, and listening. In building proficiency, students also find access to new means of self-expression—through conversation, e-mail, teleconferencing and telephone exchanges, and the writing of descriptive and critical essays. The high number of national and regional awards won by our students attests to our success in this area. However, in the Department of German, our goals for our students are even more wide-reaching; we seek to provide them with the linguistic framework to develop communicative, interpretive, and cultural skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom.

From the first day of German 0001, students are asked to go well beyond the study of grammar toward an understanding of the target culture. In addition to acquiring language structures, they are assisted in developing sensitivity to cultural similarities and differences, as well as interpretive skills and the kind of critical awareness that they can then constructively use for the rest of their lives.

Above all, the language acquisition curriculum presents language in cultural context rather than structural isolation. Our classes are student-centered and personalized; our highly trained instructors aid individual students in developing the linguistic and interpretive tools they need in order to guide themselves through their own encounters with authentic German culture. Our language-acquisition classrooms and media labs are dynamic places in which students are exposed to real cultural artifacts from the first day of class: film, literature, Web sites, music, television, print media, and much more.

Elementary and Intermediate Core Courses: German 0001–0004

Many University of Pittsburgh students begin their language studies in our core elementary (first-year) and intermediate (second-year) programs. It is possible for a four-year student to complete the German major by beginning with German 0001 during the first freshman semester. The elementary program (day or evening) allows students to interact with German culture, in the classroom or the Language Media Center, for five hours a week. The intermediate program (day or evening) provides students with sufficient skills with three hours a week in the classroom or the Language Media Center.

The first-year courses (GER 0001–0002) use the Treffpunkt Deutsch series (textbook, workbook, CD, digitized video) as an instructional foundation; however, a wide variety of authentic supplementary materials is also used in the classroom and in the Language Media Center.

The second-year courses (GER 0003–0004) use as a grammatical basis the Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik as well as the anthology Stimmen eines Jahrhunderts and the authentic children’s books Neben mir ist noch Platz and Lisa: eine deutsche Geschichte. Here again, text materials are heavily supplemented by realia and other multi-media materials.

Special Interest Courses: Reading and Professional German

For interested undergraduates or for graduate students seeking to pass reading exams for another University of Pittsburgh department, our two-sequence German Reading courses (GER 0021 and 0022) serve as appropriate and intensive preparation.

Students enrolled in GER 0021 learn to identify all of the basic structures of German while working with the Korb/Jannach text German for Reading Knowledge. This knowledge enables them to answer content questions about provided reading material and translate short texts.

Enrollment in GER 0022 enables students to build on knowledge acquired in GER 0021 or its equivalent as they translate and interpret specialized materials from their fields of study. Questions of stylistics are also covered. Students are provided with a course reader (Klett) and an extensive series of handouts.

Students who wish to learn about German business customs and structures and who wish to practice their professional skills have an opportunity to enroll in our Professional I (Ger 1003) and Professional II (Ger 1004) courses after completing German 0004. Here such diverse topics as professional self-presentation (resume-writing and interview skills) and government and economic structures are featured. Students work heavily with video and the latest technological resources while the text Geschäftsdeutsch serves as a solid general foundation.

Occasionally we offer other special interest language courses, such as Yiddish, German 0011 (Beginning Conversation) and German 0012 (Conversation).

Placement Testing

Students who arrive at the University of Pittsburgh with some German language skills are required to take the departmental placement test, which will determine their present level of German skills. Students will also have access to the nationally-known Brigham Young University achievement test in order to determine their placement.

Because of our large number of course offerings, every student who wishes to take a German course at the University of Pittsburgh can be successfully placed, whether she or he is just beginning a course of study or has lived in Germany for a number of years.

Language Assessment

In addition to regular course-specific assessments, the Department of German regularly tests the language proficiency of students in the Beginning and Intermediate sequences, as well as graduating seniors.  At present we use the STAMP Proficiency Assessment tool by Avant Assessments, which correlates results to the OPI scale.  For more information, visit http://www.avantassessment.com/STAMP.

Contact Information

For questions about the first-year and second-year language programs, or about reading and professional courses, please contact the Director of Language Studies, Dr. Viktoria Harms, vih16@pitt.edu.


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