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Introduction to German studies (beginners)

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Learn to speak and understand German in a wide range of practical situations, and explore life in German-speaking communities with this carefully structured beginners' module. This module develops the skills you need to speak and understand simple German in everyday contexts. It explores life in German-speaking countries and communities worldwide through topics relevant to adult learners. For example, impressions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland; travelling an public transport; lifestyles and cultural events; jobs and technology. Study resources include books and a dedicated website with online activities which support independent learning. Together with your tutor and fellow learners, the resources will give you language skills and a real feel for German-speaking countries and communities.

What you will study

After an introduction to language learning, six thematic units will present new language in spoken and written form, invite you to collaborate and communicate in German, and revise and consolidate what you have learned.

The following themes will be covered:

  • introductions and personal details
  • shopping and leisure activities
  • accommodation and life in German-speaking countries
  • travel, trips and relaxation
  • family and history
  • culturally specific celebrations throughout the year.

New language, including useful phrases, grammatical features and tips for interacting successfully with speakers of German, are interspersed with cultural information and critical thinking skills. Up-to-date technology, such as machine translation and online communication tools, is discussed and critically evaluated.

We appreciate the diversity of learners and acknowledge that not every topic might be of interest to you. From the beginning, you will be encouraged to select appropriate elements of the course and focus on areas you need to develop, including a wide range of skills for communicating in a second language environment. And most of all, you’ll learn to enjoy different cultures and views of the world by meeting German-speaking people in videos, audio clips and through authentic texts from German media.

This module is designed to enable you to achieve a level of language proficiency equivalent to level A2 of the Council of Europe Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. You will have developed your knowledge and understanding of the language as well as an awareness of cultural diversity in German-speaking countries which form a key part of the learning outcomes for studying at this level. By the end of the module, you will have developed key OU level 1 undergraduate study skills, such as learning to work independently and using strategies which enable you to solve problems and analyse data.

You will learn

In addition to language skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing in German), you’ll develop critical thinking, digital skills, a limited range of translation skills and skills for summarising, presenting and mediating information between different languages.

Entry requirements

This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning. 

No prior knowledge of German is required to study this module. To help decide if this is the module for you, use our self-assessment quiz.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

As part of the module, there will be an induction week to help you to familiarise yourself with OU materials, websites, and terminology.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to forums where you can communicate with your fellow students.

You will also be provided with printed course books, comprising 180 hours of study material, and online learning material, comprising 120 hours of study and revision.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Introducing you to fellow students and facilitating online discussions between you.
  • Moderating the dedicated module and tutor group forums and initiating discussions in German and occasionally in English.
  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources when needed.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating live tutorials throughout the module that give you additional opportunities to speak with fellow students.

Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

TMAs test your writing and speaking skills. Your listening and reading skills will be tested by computer-marked assignments (iCMAs) presented on the website. You will be given more detailed information when you begin the module.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying L103 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Introduction to German studies (beginners) (L103) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2032.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
4 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No examination