We are an innovative and responsive ‘boutique’ program, offering students a high level of personal support via academic advising and participation in an effective learning community. A very high percentage of the students who take introductory German at UH Mānoa continue on to take 300- and 400-level classes.

Quality and Innovation

  • Our faculty consistently receive excellent evaluations, and have received teaching awards, including the system-wide Francis Davis Award for Undergraduate Teaching.
  • We regularly offer courses that fulfill focus W (writing intensive), O (oral communication) and H (Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Issues) focus designations.

Importance of German in the World Today

  • Germany is the largest economy in the European Union and the fourth largest economy in the world—after the US, China and Japan.
  • German is the 10th most widely spoken language in the world: spoken by over 100 million people worldwide.
  • Today, 10% of all books published world-wide are in the German language.
  • And over 150,000 German speakers visit Hawai‘i each year.

Strategic Mission: Centrality and Alignment

You may be surprised to learn that German is a Heritage Language:

  • German was one of just two foreign languages offered when the University of Hawai’i was established in 1908. The first classes were held in the house of a German merchant, Wilhelm Ludwig Maertens, on Thomas Square.
  • German has been an important language in the islands since the early 1800s, when German explorers and businessmen began to arrive. German-speaking immigrants served as cabinet ministers, officers in the army and diplomats.
  • The German presence and influence was so strong in the 19th-century that King Kalakaua often appeared in the uniform of a German cavalry general. Princess Ka‘iulani was sent to Germany to perfect her German, and Queen Lili‘uokalani took German lessons in I‘olani Palace.
  • Over a thousand German sugar plantation workers arrived in the islands in the early 1880s, not long after the Chinese, and just before the Japanese. Intermarriages were common. In O‘ahu cemetery, the gravestones are carved in three languages: English, Hawaiian and German.

German Provides a Direct Link to Pacific Scholarship:

  • Some of the most important works on Hawai’i, Samoa, Tonga, the Marshall Islands, and Papua New Guinea were written in German, including the very first Hawaiian grammar book.
  • The Hawai‘i-Pacific collection in Hamilton Library houses an abundance of original work in German that has yet to be translated. These works were written by a variety of intellectuals, such as Kraemer and Bastian (ethnologists), Schauinsland (naturalist), von Humbolt (linguist), Chamisso (poet), Choris (painter), as well as “local” Germans who ran German colonies or settled in archipelagos.
  • One member of our faculty, Professor Niklaus Schweizer, served for 38 years as the Honorary Swiss Consul in Hawai’i, and is an internationally recognized authority on the history of Europeans in the Pacific. He has received honors for both his knowledge of and service to the Hawaiian community. He has also contributed to TV programs on this topic that are aired all over Europe.

German Division Chair

Undergraduate Advisor

Prof. Maryann Overstreet

1890 East-West Road
Moore Hall 454
Honolulu  HI  96822

Phone: (808) 956-4172