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German Study Tip: Journal-Writing

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Journal-writing is a great way for any language-learner to improve their writing skills. Many school teachers use this tool daily to increase their students' expressiveness and solidify their vocabulary. It would be better however for the German learner to have a firm grasp of basic German sentence structure before attempting this activity.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: As little or as much time as you wish.

Here's How:

  1. Get a sturdy notebook or journal that will help inspire or motivate you simply by looking at it.
  2. Plan a time during the day when you could write without being interrupted. I like to write in my journal right before I go to bed so that I can reflect upon my day.
  3. Wherever you plan to write, make sure you have all the necessary materials within reach, such as dictionaries, grammar books etc., to allow quick access. I suggest making or printing off grammar charts (see grammar case declension , modal verb conjugation) that perhaps you refer to often and gluing/putting them in the front or back of your journal.
  4. When you write, try to write completely in German! To keep the flow (and motivation) going, if you don't know a certain word, try to use circumlocution, that is using other words to describe what you don't know what to say. For example, if you don't know the word for refrigerator (der Kühlschrank), you could say: "das große, kalte Ding in der Küche or das große, kalte Haushaltsgerät wo man Lebensmittel aufbewahren kann" (the big, cold thing in the kitchen/ the big, cold appliance where you store food items.) After you are done writing you can look it up in the dictionary. Use the method that you prefer, but the most important thing is to write completely in German so that you are thinking in German.
  5. If possible, have a German friend correct some of your passages once in a while. If not that's fine, just make sure you check the correctness of oft-repeated expressions. Aim always to incorporate new grammar concepts learned and you'll be pleased at the progress you make over time.
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