Teaching Tips to Help Students Write Letters in German

By Audrey Alleyne

Allow students to practice names, dates, place names and the present tense in writing their letters.

Informal Letters

Writing a letter 

Your students can start writing a letter in German by pretending to be on holiday. Let them attempt a postcard or a letter in German this way: They start with the name of the place they are at, and date in the top right hand corner. The dates are written in the format of day/month/year.

Bremen, (den) 30. Jun 2010

This is an informal letter to someone they know well, so the greeting will simply be:

Lieber Hans

or

Liebe Brigitte

The greeting is then be followed by a comma, with the first line of the message starting with a small letter. It can also be followed by an exclamation mark with the first line starting with a capital letter; however the comma is most used in modern day correspondence:

Liebe Brigitte,

viele Grüße aus Bremen.

Ein wunderschöner Urlaub! Das Hotel ist sehr gut, und das Essen könnte nicht besser sein! Ich esse gern Kuchen und ich gehe viel spazieren, damit ich nicht zu dick werde.Am liebsten gehe ich ins Kino, damit ich mehr Deutsch lerne.

Deine Monika

The ending for an informal letter can also be:

Bis bald

Alles Liebe

These are affectionate endings.

Less affectionate ones are:

Herzliche Grüsse

Mit herzlichen Grüssen

(Ihr/Ihre)

followed by their signature. It is important to note that there is no punctuation at the ending.

Formal Letters

After practicing a few informal letters, they can then practice a formal letter. In business letters, the date is usually written in numbers:

25.3.2010

The student would put his name and address on the top left-hand of the page, and the date on the right. He can also put the address on the right with the date beneath it. The heading would look somewhat like this:

Jan Schwartz

Hauptstrasse 56

92763 Stuttgart

Between the student’s address and the recipient’s address, there should be a few spaces:

Titles used are as follows:

Herrn (Mr)

Frau (Mr./Miss)

Familie (Family)

Herrn Doktor

Herrn Professor

It is usual in business letters to refer to the date of previous correspondence; so following the greeting, the student could begin his formal letter with something like:

Ihr Schreiben vom 15.April 2010

Let the student also practice another way of greeting. This is when the name of the recipient is known;in this case:

Sehr geehrter Herr Müller

Sehr geehrte Frau Weiss

He can also practice the form used when you do not know the person to whom you are writing:

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren (Dear Sir or Madam)

A few more exercises in formal letters and your students will be well on their way towards receiving student help writing a letter in German, and understanding how to do it.