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:
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:
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.
The ending for an informal letter can also be:
These are affectionate endings.
Less affectionate ones are:
Mit herzlichen Grüssen
followed by their signature. It is important to note that there is no punctuation at the ending.
After practicing a few informal letters, they can then practice a formal letter. In business letters, the date is usually written in numbers:
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:
Between the student’s address and the recipient’s address, there should be a few spaces:
Titles used are as follows:
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.