Every culture has differences but Sara Hofinger and the 13 students in her Advanced Placement German-language class at Hilliard Bradley High School are focused on the similarities.

"There are a lot of commonalities if you look for them and those commonalities are among the things we focus on during the course of the year," said Hofinger, who has taught in Hilliard City Schools since 1992.

Hofinger taught German-language classes at Heritage and Weaver middle schools and Darby High School before arriving at Bradley two years ago.

All 13 of her AP students are fluent in German so they focus on researching and writing reports on German cities and biographies of famous Germans, as well as studying the dialects of the language.

The course also covers the cultures of other countries with German as a national language: Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

All the students in Hofinger's AP class began learning German in the eighth grade. The language currently is not offered to eighth-grade students but will be reintroduced as a foreign language available to eighth-graders next year at the expanded campus of the McVey Innovative Learning Center.

Joe Warren, a senior, said he chose German because he wanted "to do something different" rather than enrolling in more common French and Spanish classes.

"Most schools don't offer (German in the eighth grade)," he said.

He said he was surprised to learn the number of English words that are rooted in the German language.

Warren said he is helping other students learn the language, serving second-year teaching assistant for Hofinger and teaching a "word-of-the-day" segment to German I students.

Junior Evan Vitek also is helping and said German is good preparation for college.

Last month, Vitek won a contest among AP students to create an original video designed to promote German-language classes and Bradley's German club.

"We needed to promote the German language a little more," he said. "With this video, my goal was to be able to reach out to middle school and high school students to take German."

Part of Vitek's video utilized Falco's 1980s MTV staple, "Rock Me Amadeus," because both the famous composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the '80s musician are Austrian-born. (Falco's real name was Johann Holzel, for readers who are trivia fans).

Junior Laura Hofinger, whose mother instructs the class, has traveled extensively to Austria and can share an intimate knowledge of the German culture with her classmates.

Each summer Laura, her parents and three siblings spend the summer at a farmhouse in the Austrian countryside with the family of her father, Johannes.

Sara Hofinger said she first traveled to Germany as an exchange student while in high school in northwestern Ohio and again as a student at Bowling Green State University when she met her future husband.

Johannes Hofinger's five brothers, their wives and their 13 children live and work the farm the family visits each summer.

"Every summer we stay on the (family) farm, about an hour from Salzburg, but also traveling to other countries, including Italy," Sara Hofinger said.

Meanwhile, she said, her students are having fun discovering a deeper knowledge of Germany, and she hopes they all will one day have the opportunity to visit.

From her German I students just learning their first words to the 13 AP students, all juniors and seniors in either in their fourth or fifth year of German, Hofinger said, she simply enjoys watching students learn a new language and culture.

"Watching the comprehension and growth is amazing for me to see every time," she said.