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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 Option 2 feels somewhat outdated and reminiscent of middle school German, and option 1 is not very inspiring, let’s be honest.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!
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
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?