“I have picked up from my American faculty colleagues that their first response to a question from a student is ‘Great question!’ before answering the question. One of the German faculty colleagues once mentioned that this may come across to German students as patronising. What is the best first response to a question posed by German students?”
“Thank you for your question.” Then go on to answer the question.
However, if the question is unclear or poorly formulated or is not a terribly relevant question, then state that, as in : “Your question is unclear. Could you please reformulate it?” or “The question is not critical to our discussion.”
Remember, Germans say what they mean and mean what they say. And remember, that Germans do not sugarcoat their statements.
Americans, in contrast, have difficulty being direct. And Americans have difficulty giving low scores in feedback situations, especially university-level professors. Many, quite frankly, are afraid of their own students. It’s called grade inflation. And it has been rampant for years in the U.S.