As all language learners know, writing is one of the four basic skills every student has to practise. This applies especially to German because the syntax and the declension are quite complex.
In this post I give you the hints I consider fundamental if you want to write a good composition in German.
1. Before starting
Time: It is very important to reserve some time for the writing because you must concentrate in order to produce a good text. I recommend 20 to 30 minutes.
Topic: Make sure you understand what topic exactly you have to write about. Think also how many points you want to write about. Maybe your teacher has given you also a word number (30/50/80).
Materials: I always recommend using a computer because it’s more practical, faster and you don’t waste paper. Try to use any program that has a German spelling control (maybe Word, or GoogleMail, also DUDEN offers a spelling control up to 800 characters).
You will also need a dictionary, my favorite is PONS. You should also take out your class notes for any consultation on vocabulary and grammar you have learned in your German course.
2. Getting started
Being a teacher, I recommend you to write always your name and the date (in German: 04.11.17) in the header of the page.
The first line of your composition should be the title. After the title leave a free line.
Start your text with an introduction (Einleitung). In this first part you should write in a whole sentence what this text is about and why you are going to write about this topic.
If you are going to draft an opinion, comment or analysis, you should include in the introduction a short summary of the text you are going to write your opinion/comment/analysis about.
3. Main part
The main part (Hauptteil) is the biggest part of your composition and contains the most important information in form of a narrative, an opinion, a comment, a reproduction (retelling) or an analysis.
Make sure you answer the “w-questions” at the beginning of your main part (if you haven’t done so in the introduction): Wer macht was/was passiert, wo, wann, wie und warum?
You should write simple and short sentences (with the conjugated verb in 2nd position and the infinitive/past participle/prefix at the end). Use subordinate clauses only if you control them (with the conjugated verb in final position). Never use two subordinate conjunctions in one sentence!
Try always to use vocabulary you already know or that you have learned in your course/book. As to the dictionary, try to look up as few new words as possible.
Don’t use grammatical structures you haven’t learned yet because they will complicate your text and the “simple” writing of a text is already difficult enough (if you want to do it well).
And of course, don’t use Google Translate because you never know if it really translates what you want to say. Apart from this, the writing is precisely for your writing practice, i.e. your application of grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
4. When finished
After you finish your composition, I recommend you read your text again slowly two times.
The first time, make sure if you have written everything you wanted the way you wanted to express it. Check if you are following the basic rules of the German language you have learned (word order, articles, declension especially after prepositions and so on).
For your second reading I have developed a special checklist with all the aspects you have to pay attention to. You can download it for free and send me your composition, so I can correct it for you. 🙂