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Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Berlin


Admission requirements

Good command of the German language, both written and spoken.


This course is an introduction to German sociolinguistics with Berlin as a case study. As a symbol of a “global city” (Stevenson 2017: 18), Berlin concentrated in 2020 190 different nationalities. 21% of 3,7 millions inhabitants have another nationality than German (either without German or several nationalities). What does this “superdiversity” (Arnaut et al. 2016) mean for the use of German in the German capital?
We will first explore what impact migration has (had) on the German language, especially through the lens of youth language, or what we call multiethnolects—this “linguistic “something,” a variety or style, which has developed in multiethnic urban communities and which is associated with speakers of mixed ethnic groups” (Quist 2008: 44). In the second part of the course, we will ask ourselves what variation means for our understanding of German in particular and language in general, and how to integrate these findings into a multifaceted vision of German that goes beyond ‘German spoken by Germans in Germany’, but also integrates heritage language speakers and multilinguals. Most importantly, we will critically reflect upon our own biases about what counts as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ regarding language practices, especially as learners of German. Finally, you will conduct a small research project based on empirical data.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • knowledge of different varieties of German;

  • a critical understanding of the main concepts and methods in sociolinguistics;

  • tools to reflect on and, if necessary, challenge their own language attitudes;

  • the ability to conduct a small-scale research project in sociolinguistics, including data collection and analysis;

  • the ability to present readings and their research results orally and in written form in (academic) German.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • aktive Teilnahme

  • wissenschaftliches Poster (1 A4-Seite)

  • 10 EC: Hausarbeit (5000 Wörter)


10 EC

  • aktive Teilnahme: 10%

  • wissenschaftliches Poster: 40%

  • Hausarbeit: 50%


The poster must be sufficient and may be repeated.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Arnaut, Karel, Jan Blommaert, Ben Rampton & Massimiliano Spotti (eds.). 2016. Language and Superdiversity. New York/Abingdon: Routledge.
Quist, Pia. 2008. Sociolinguistic approaches to multiethnolect: Language variety and stylistic practice. International Journal of Bilingualism 12(1–2). 43–61.
Stevenson, Patrick. 2017. Language and Migration in a Multilingual Metropolis: Berlin Lives. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturers listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal

Coordinator of studies: