Get comfortable writing in German

Writing emails to coworkers, WhatsApp messages to friends or posting on social media is part of using your German language skills. It can be daunting, and here are a few tips on overcoming your reluctance.

Make use of words you already know. If you would like to talk about your niece, for example, and the German term doesn’t spring to mind, then talk about the daughter of your brother or sister. Write short and simple sentences; your writing becomes more nuanced and complex with time. Accept that you will not be able to express yourself in German with the same precision as you do in your first language. And that’s ok! A Perfectionist may find that harder to accept than the slacker.

There’s no need to be perfect as long as you can make yourself understood. Your opposite, be it coworkers, friends or family, will appreciate your effort. Germans are known for not holding back and may even give you a helping hand by correcting you.

You should, of course, consider your audience. An email or a letter may need more rereading than a short message to a friend. Reading aloud what you have written may also help as you will easier spot any mistakes. Get feedback from your German tutor or German colleagues or friends if the writing is important.

Another way to improve your writing skills is to do a lot of reading, exposing you to German vocabulary, syntax and grammar. Read online, read books, read newspapers, read on social media.

Perhaps keeping a diary in German is something that you want to try. After a few months, you can look back to notice how far your German has come.

The one thing not to use is Google translate. Your audience will realise your German is not as good as it appears to be on paper when they finally meet you. And that is best to be avoided.

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