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Teaching Tips to Help Students Write Letters in German

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/14/2014

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

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    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.

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    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.