On Monday, Sept. 7, the University of North Georgia (UNG) created a partnership with the Goethe-Institut, the premiere global German language and cultural organization, that will provide advanced courses for UNG students and expand the university's German language program.
The Goethe-Institut, headquartered in Munich, has 159 centers throughout the world in more than 80 countries, but the agreement with UNG marks the first time the organization has partnered with an American university to offer language credit. The direct-enrollment program, in which UNG students will enroll in the institute, is the only one of its kind.
UNG plans to begin sending students to the institute in summer 2016, according to Dr. John Wilson, associate vice president for international programs at UNG and director of the Center for Global Engagement.
"The Goethe-Institut is the premier German language organization in the world and UNG is thrilled to have such a prestigious organization as a partner," Wilson said. "UNG students will able to obtain an intermediate level of German proficiency through Goethe-Institut summer classes and then proceed to complete international internships with the German universities, non-government organizations and military organizations which already have partnerships with UNG."
The Goethe-Institute is dedicated to promoting the study of the German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange and relations. UNG collaborated with the Goethe-Zentrum in Atlanta to bring this program to the university.
“We, at the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta, are delighted to partner with UNG. Partnerships like this are at the core of our work at the Goethe-Zentrum,” said Miriam Bruns, executive director of Goethe-Zentrum, German Cultural Center Atlanta. “Through close cooperation with educational partners such as UNG, we fulfill our mission of fostering cultural relationships between German-speaking and American people in order to promote a better understanding of German culture, language, and society within the larger context of European life.”
UNG has full-time instructors in German and has 145 students enrolled in German courses; the new partnership will make it easier to provide advanced instruction, according to Dr. Brian Mann, head of the Division of World Languages and Cultures at UNG.
"With this unprecedented level of growth in the German program and the opportunity to work with a partner with such globally recognized success and renown, we plan to add more campus-based, advanced-level courses to our program," Mann said. "Ultimately, we would like to get to the point where we could offer a major in German."
UNG students enrolled at one of the 16 Goethe-Institut locations in Germany already will have completed some German courses, Mann said, allowing them to focus on higher levels of communication and cultural enrichment. The university also will be able to expand opportunities for intensive German instruction, like UNG's first-ever Federal Service Language Academy study abroad program, offered in Berlin this summer for dual-enrolled high school students.
“We are impressed by UNG’s international focus and strong focus on expanding their language programs and commend them on their FSLA Berlin program,” Bruns said. “This agreement is just the beginning of the partnership between the Goethe Atlanta and the University of North Georgia. We are looking forward to expanding our joint programming and to mutually supporting our German-American programming.”
Most of UNG's 10 language programs feature native speakers and several stress immersive and study abroad programs; research has shown that these environments are particularly effective in helping students improve their language skills, Mann said.
"An authentic cultural experience, especially if it is academically driven with clear goals for improvement and is mediated by experienced instructors in a quality program, cannot fail to expand the students' understanding of a given language its culture, and ultimately, the wider world," he said.
Students studying languages at UNG can earn a bachelor's degree in modern languages with concentrations in Arabic, Chinese, French, or Spanish. UNG offers global opportunities for students, faculty and staff through a variety of international partnerships, exchanges and study abroad programs. Specialized global opportunities for students in the Corps of Cadets at UNG include federally funded programs such as Project Global Officer, Chinese Language Flagship and the university's Language Training Center.