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TheDiaryofaDork and the terrible, horrible, really scary honors thesis

A last-minute decision last December- and a flurry of advising appointments-  settled it; this is my last semester as an undergraduate. Since I had such a head start in my German classes and took on average 20 credits a semester, I have just enough credits to graduate a year early, so I am.

Of course, there was one hiccup to that plan; the honors thesis. The honors student is supposed to spend about two semester on their thesis, sometimes three to account for mistakes and changes in plan. Doing it one semester isn’t something I’d recommend.

Fortunately, I have great faculty working with me, and the honors college was also willing to be slightly flexible. The final project is due April 11, meaning I have a little over a month to come up with and edit the final draft. I’ve done a lot of the research already, so the next hurdle is sitting down and writing the 20-30 page paper.

My topic focuses on second language acquisition, with an emphasis on German. I want to know which method works better; the modern immersion method that forces students to speak as much German as possible, or the traditional lecture method that has a teacher clearly explaining the rules and exceptions.

Of course what ‘works better’ is not easily measurable. One method might produce students that are good at communicating but speak totally improper German, while the others might be less comfortable speaking but write excellent, grammatically-correct papers.

The professors here focus on an immersion method, and I’ve been assisting and observing in two GER 101 classes this semester to see how it all works. It’s actually been really interesting and has pushed me to practice a little teaching as well, and to get more comfortable in front of the classroom. I also was able to perform a little experiment and get data for my thesis. One class was given an English lecture and the other learned by the usual method where they have to self-discover the grammar rule we were learning that day. Then each class took the same quiz. Which class performed better? Why? Come to my defense and find out (;

Being able to work in the classroom has been useful for me, as I’ve also applied to the German masters program (more on that later). However, I might have bitten off more than I can chew by doing my honors project and taking so many classes at the same time. Guess I’ll find out! Now that the semester’s in full swing, things have gotten a little easier, just in time for them to get harder as I pound out my thesis. Wish me luck!

PS. It’s not really terrible or horrible (hopefully!). I just liked the way the title sounded.

One Comment on “TheDiaryofaDork and the terrible, horrible, really scary honors thesis”

  1. Martin says:

    Good Luck! I am proud of you, kiddo!

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