In my opinion, German-speaking Romance language departments should emphasize a language-encompassing comparative approach, particularly with respect to French, Spanish, or Italian philology in the Romance language countries. Stronger than in the German and English departments, not only language barriers must be crossed. The smaller number of professors in the Romance language department leads to the fact that its professors must cover both descriptive system linguistics topics as well as topics in historical and cultural studies. Furthermore, the media sciences, with their theoretical and historical aspects, create an important current field of research that also enables collaboration with literature studies. Media sciences should not just be a domain of literature studies in which movies or television are studied as a complement to the traditional categories. In linguistics, media sciences are increasingly complementing and replacing semiotics, in that on one hand the semiotic potential of new media forms falls into focus and on the other hand their effects on spoken and written language can be studied.
In order to guarantee a balanced and complete education, I find it important to more or less equally cover topics oriented toward both system linguistic and cultural studies. The former enables a scientific diffusion of linguistic education, particularly in the area of grammar, whereas the latter clarifies the function of language in society, different varieties, and their media-specific use.
The primary goal of a university education should be to learn how to make an independent contribution to the current research questions. This is achieved by collecting and analyzing data, compiling and critically commenting on the different positions taken on subjects in the current literature, as well as the development of one’s own ideas and approaches. Graduate courses (Hauptseminare) provide the prerequisites for such work. Students should adhere to the traditional form - oral presentation (Referat) and term paper (Hausarbeit) - for optimal consideration. Oral presentations and term papers, however, require intensive supervision.
In the Romance language department, lectures have a variety of functions. Lectures are generally oriented toward students of different ages and programs of studies and therefore they must be designed correspondingly. For some students, lectures serve as an introduction to a subject, while for other students they serve as preparation for graduate courses and for still other students they serve as preparation for exams. In lectures I generally try to deal with French, Spanish, and Italian in a comparative manner. Also, nowadays many students must earn a certain type and number of credits for each course (Leistungsnachweise). This be earned by taking a written exam or by compiling a written discussion of control questions based on the lectures.