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German Writing Exercise: Keep A Diary Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Language

Guten Tag, liebe Freunde!

One of the things I’m really interested in at the moment is finding ways to integrate language learning into our daily lives, so that it feels more natural and we see progress with it more quickly. Sometimes I get asked “How can I make faster progress with my German?” and recently I was asked about how to practise writing in German, specifically.

This had me thinking. Listening, reading and speaking are all pretty diverse. You can use podcasts, audio tapes and films (listening), books, blogs and magazines (reading) and chat to other German speakers or learners (speaking). But writing is a strange one, because the most common options for language learners are rather restrictive: 1) Do some writing exercises from a textbook (which will most likely be tedious exercises like Write about your daily routine! or Tell me what you did on holiday!) or 2) Find a penpal (e-pal?) to write letters to. Option 2 feels somewhat outdated and reminiscent of middle school German, and option 1 is not very inspiring, let’s be honest.

Schreib einfach ein Tagebuch!

Zuckersüß! Tagebucheintrag: Hotelbewertung - Gästefeedback der kleinen Anna

Tagebucheintrag: Diary entry. Photo by chiemseehotel on flickr.com under CC BY 2.0

My suggestion is to write a Tagebuch (diary) in German. Why would this work? Because it’s something you’re emotionally invested in, which makes it engaging, and because it’s privat (private), so the emphasis is on expressing yourself rather than writing things perfectly. You will strive to find the right Wörter (words) and Ausdrücke (phrases) to express yourself with, and in doing so you’ll have learnt new words without even realising it. You might not have written everything perfectly, but the feeling of Erreichung (achievement) you’ll have at the end of each Eintrag (post) will inspire you to write mehr und mehr (more and more), and that will, in turn, help to improve your German.

Think it’s a good idea? If you’re new to diary writing, then here are some ideas to get you started.

What to write about?

This is a list I found here:
• Sie können schreiben, was um Sie herum passiert (you can write about what’s going on around you)
• was Sie denken, (what you think)
• was Sie fühlen, (what you feel)
• was Sie mit anderen Menschen erleben, (what you experience with other people)
• was Sie glauben, (what you believe)
• was Sie hoffen, (what you hope for)
• was Sie sich erträumen, (what you dream of)
• welche Ziele Sie haben, (which goals you have)
• welche Enttäuschungen Sie erleben, (what disappointments you experience)
• was Sie ändern möchten, (what you’d like to change)
• worüber Sie glücklich und dankbar sind, (what you’re happy and thankful for)
• was Sie gelernt haben, (what you’ve learnt)
• was Ihnen gefällt, (what you like)
• was Sie nicht mögen, (what you don’t like)
• über Veränderungen (about changes)

Tipp: Write exactly as you would in your own language, with your own style and your own personality. The challenge is to express yourself in German.

Tipp: If you can’t find the word for something in German, write ‘around’ it by describing it using words you do know, instead. Then look up the word later on in a dictionary. You won’t forget it again.

 

So now you’ve got an idea of what to write about, here are some basic words and phrases to help get you started with your German diary:

Date – Das Datum
*The date format in German is as follows: Montag, der 11. Mai 2015 or Mittwoch, der 4. Oktober 2015*

Dear Diary – Liebes Tagebuch

Today I am… – Heute bin ich…
Today I was… – Heute war ich…
Today I will… – Heute werde ich…
I feel… – Ich fühle mich…

Mood – Die Stimmung/Die Laune

Happy – glücklich, froh                     (Very) good – (sehr) gut
Content – zufrieden                     Nervous – nervös
Sad – traurig                              Angry/annoyed – geärgert
Thoughtful – nachdenklich                     Tired – müde
Bored – gelangweilt                    Jealous – eifersüchtig
Ill – krank                                Alone – allein
Lonely – einsam                     Stupid – dumm/blöd
Confused – verwirrt                     Ecstatic – ekstatisch
Weird – seltsam/komisch                     Drunk – betrunken
Hormonal – hormonell                     Restless – unruhig
Relieved – erleichert                     Thankful – dankbar

because… – weil…

So a typical entry might start like this:

Montag, der 14. Juni 2015

Liebes Tagebuch
Heute bin ich sehr verwirrt, weil…

Obviously it would be impossible to include everything you might say in a diary here, and all of the ways you could say it, so if you do have any specific requests for phrases, words and other diary-related vocabulary, just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you. As it’s such a personal thing I don’t want to tell you what you ‘should’ be writing, rather just help you along with it.

I hope you like this idea, and that you’ll try it as a way of improving your German writing skills. Let me know if you do decide to write a diary in German, or how it’s going if you already are. Do you think it’s a good idea? What other methods do you use to practise writing in German? How could we help you with it via this blog?

Bis bald!

Constanze x

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Nancy Sop:

    Das ist ein sehr guter Ratschlag! Vielen Dank!

  2. Transparent Language:

    Comment via email:

    Vielen Dank. Great idea. I can see the value of privately experimenting with language. I’ve done this a few times and was surprised how much I remembered and could “write around. ” I found it very fulfilling, but it does take some effort. Well worth it and I think I’ll give it another try.
    Bis naechste mahl. RS

  3. Jai Vee:

    That’s one great idea..!! Danke….

  4. Michaela Back:

    Hallo!
    I am a native speaker and found this approach to German very very interesting.
    Just two things:
    1. “Erreichung” isn’t really a word (at least I’ve never heard that). You’d say “das Gefühl etwas erreicht zu haben” (the feeling of having accomplished something).
    2. The date format isn’t wrong, it’s just not very common to write it that way. Most of the time we’d write “14.5.15” or, if we want to be very specific “Montag, 14.5.2015”.

  5. VladCZ:

    Hi, thanks for the tip.

    I did a little bit of thinking about how to practise writing myself and come up with a idea i’d like to share.

    Get some popular TV series (german subtitles more likely) set in whatever you’d like to learn about (crimi – law, maybe more formal speech; sitcom – relationships, friends, more informal). Then just choose a sentence you want to translate, WRITE it down and correct yourself with the subtitles. You might phrase a bit differently and subtitles are not always 100% correct. But in most cases you’ll get the correct sentence or at least another option, how the same sentence could have been translated which you might have not even thought about. But it’s best to just go from sentence to sentence, so that you’re not skipping “the hard ones”.

    And really, WRITE YOUR (and correct) TRANSLATION DOWN. Do not just say it. You’ll remember a lot less like that and won’t be able to take your notes with you.

    Hope it helps, enjoy your language studies.

    • Constanze:

      @VladCZ Brilliant idea! Thank you for sharing it! 🙂

  6. Name:

    Thanks a lot for giving chance to learn German Language.
    I love to learn it. Very fantastic method.

  7. Marites Manila:

    Hi Constanze! I am a Filipino nurse, presently studying German language. It is really hard to adopt a new language but it is very interesting to learn. Really i appreciate your tips just now i finish reading. Hope you can help me to study this language. It is hard for me, the word order, i mean the placement of the verbs & etc.
    Thank you so much & hope we can be friends. God bless you!

    • Constanze:

      @Marites Manila Hey Marites! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! There’s loads of content here on the blog so I hope you’ll find everything you need. If not, just ask! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. All the best with learning German! 🙂 x