Summing up the Learning German Series at My Swiss Story, I am happy to welcome Anna again to discuss the ways in which you can have a command over writing in German. Read on to find out…Happy learning!
If you have read my last article you will remember that I have told you 5 Tips on how to master the skill of reading in German. Today we want to look closer into the master skill of writing and I will answer the following questions.
- How can I improve my German writing skills?
- What is the best way to improve my writing skills fast?
- How can I elevate my writing skills to the next level?
1. Practice, practice, practice
There is just one way to improve your writing skills – through practice! The more time and effort you put into your German writing practice, the better. To make sure that your practice is successful, and you don’t potentially reinforce mistakes you have to know the basics of German orthography and grammar.
Let us start with some basic orthography rules: The German alphabet has Umlaute (ä, ö, ü) in certain words such as Äpfel (apples), Österreich (Austria) & grün (green). Umlaute are used a lot in the German language, and it is important that you do not skip them, because they tell the reader exactly how to pronounce the word. If you are typing on the computer, it is important that you enable a German keyboard to type the Umlaute.
Another important orthography rule is the differentiation between the sounds <ei> and <ie>. To notice the difference in pronunciation I will give you two words – Wein (wine) & Bier (beer). Wein in German sounds like the English word wine (pronunciation <ei>), whereas Bier sounds like the English word beer.
So, you notice the difference: <ei> is pronounced like ai and <ie> is pronounced like a long i
2. Simplify your writing
Writing – especially longer texts in a foreign language – can seem daunting at the beginning. But don’t worry! With the right tips and tricks, it doesn’t have to be! Think about what you want to write and then break it down into paragraphs. If you want to write e.g., a first-person narrative concentrate on the story plot first. Think about the most important key points of your story such as who, where, when and why. Also look up unknown vocabulary and make sure that you remember the spelling of the individual words correctly.
As a beginner, I recommend writing stories in the present tense. However, once you become a more experienced German writer your stories will naturally also take place in the future or narrate from the past. Another tip for beginners is to make your sentences short. German sentences tend to be long and quite wordy. However, if your sentences are long and complicated, they are prone for grammatical errors or mistakes in sentence structure. They can also be hard to comprehend, especially if the author tries to squeeze as much information as possible into one sentence. Therefore, I recommend short and concise sentences that are a lot more reader friendly.
3. Use phrases depending on your text type
Depending on what you want to write (formal/informal email, letter, CV, essay, blog post etc.) your writing will differ greatly. For every text type there are certain phrases that you can memorize and use when needed. Let’s take, for instance, an informal email. Although the body of your email will differ, there are some points that will always be very similar, such as the salutation, the opening phrase & asking for information.
Here are some phrases that you will probably always use in any informal email:
|Dear Paul ; Dear Anna||Lieber Paul; Liebe Anna|
|Thank you for your email||Danke für deine E-Mail|
|It was good to hear from you again||Ich habe mich gefreut, wieder von dir zu hören|
|Please write again soon!||Schreib mal wieder!|
|Kind regards||Mit freundlichen Grüssen|
4. Make a game plan
Before you start writing you should have a clear outline on the text type you want to write and how it should look like. Having a clear and concise outline of your text will help you to structure your ideas and therefore, become a better writer.
Let’s take an argumentative essay as an example. Once you have decided on your topic you should think about the individual arguments that you want to express. After you have outlined your essay you can start with the introductory paragraph. This first paragraph should outline your topic and provide necessary background information. Then your arguments will follow.
Every argument will be discussed in an individual paragraph. Each paragraph will begin with a strong topic sentence and is then followed by supportive evidence and a concluding sentence. Finally, you will finish off your essay with a concluding paragraph.
5. Incorporate writing into your daily routine
To become good at anything you must be consistent. In terms of writing that means you should try and write as much as possible by incorporating it into your daily routine. There are many ways different ways on how to incorporate writing into your daily routine.
One idea could be to start journaling.
If you prefer to communicate your thoughts and exchange ideas with another person you could also get a pen pal and communicate via letter or email. A great idea would be to get a pen pal that also functions as your tandem partner. A tandem partner is another person who wants to learn the language that you speak (either your mother tongue or a language you are very proficient in) and who speaks the language you want to learn. However, instead of meeting up in person to practice your speaking skills you will practice German through writing.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that I could give you some useful tips on how to improve your German writing skills. The most important thing is to practice often and be consistent with it. Start simple at the beginning, before moving on to more complicated grammar & sentences structures. But what is most important: have fun writing and enjoy the process!
Guest author: My name is Anna Pastrikos – I’m a passionate language teacher and the Founder of the German Academy Zurich. On my blog you can find tips and advice on how to pass the telc and Goethe exam.
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