We need to talk about your German essays.
Do they lack that certain flair?
Are you struggling to find the right words to express yourself the way you’d like to?
Are you feeling like you just aren’t getting any better at it?
Yes, I know it can be a challenge to write a great essay, especially in a language that isn‘t your native one.
But don’t worry—challenges are there to be conquered!
Essay writing is a skill that you can learn, in any language. All you need is to brush up your vocabulary and follow a few simple strategies and you’ll be well on your way to writing your first masterpiece.
This post will show you how to get started and provide you with a list of useful words and phrases to include in your next essay.
Are you ready to add all kinds of flair to your German essays?
The Different Types of German Essays
Before you get started, make sure you know what type of essay you’re going to write. If it’s a school essay, be sure to read and understand the instructions.
Here are a few notes about the most common kinds of essays in German.
- An Erzählung is a narrative essay that tells a story. Your teacher might give you some keywords or pictures and ask you to create a story around it. An Erlebniserzählung (“experience story”) is about a personal experience, and can be written in the first person.
- An Erörterung is an argumentative essay, a writing piece meant to persuade someone to think the way you do. This writing genre requires you to investigate your topic well and provide evidence to prove your point.
- In a Nacherzählung you summarize and recount a book, a film or an article you have read, from an objective perspective. Depending on the essay instructions, you might be asked for your personal opinion in the conclusion.
How to Write a Great German Essay
You know what type of essay you’re going to write and you’ve chosen your topic, so what’s next?
You need a plan.
There are different ways and styles of organizing your thoughts and creating an essay structure.
A simple way to do it is to create an essay outline divided into three sections: Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion.
You can then start adding subheadings and bullet points with thoughts and ideas that you’d like to include.
If you’re the more creative type of person, you can draw a colorful mind map. Mind maps are time consuming, but they’ll make your task so much easier.
No matter which way you do it, your essay plan will be a handy tool that you can always refer back to while writing your masterpiece.
Remember, a good plan is half the work!
Tools to Improve Your German Essay Writing Skills
To write a truly brilliant essay, you need to utilize the right language. Try to use every opportunity to expand your German vocabulary: read, listen to music, watch videos. Whenever you hear a new word that seems useful, write it down or memorize it so you can use it in your next essay.
Avoid repeating the same vocabulary over and over again. You can try out online synonym tools to find alternatives for frequently used words.
When using a new word or phrase, always make sure you use it the right way. Sometimes the meaning can change depending on the context, and often word-to-word translations of phrases between English and German sound strange. Some online dictionaries such as Linguee give you a great number of examples of how specific words or phrases can be used in real life.
To strengthen your understanding and actually hear words and phrases used by real native German speakers, you can also use FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Since this is the content that native German speakers actually watch, you get the chance to experience how modern German is spoken in real life.
Here’s just a brief example of the variety of content you’ll find on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday German by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
This way, you get German immersion online without ever worrying about missing a word.
Just tap on any subtitled word to instantly see an in-context definition, usage examples and a memorable illustration to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to your vocabulary list for later review.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
FluentU will even keep track of all the German words you’ve learned, then recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know. Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
Finally, you need to make sure you get that grammar right. Don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes; that’s where grammar checking tools come in handy. You might also want to let a friend proofread your work before you hand it in.
24 Pieces of Flair: The Most Expressive German Essay Phrases
As you’ll see, the words in our list are grouped according to how and when you’ll use them. Let’s start off with some simple words and phrases that help you explain your points.
1. Weil (Because)
Daniel muss lernen, weil er morgen einen Test hat.
(Daniel has to study because he has a test tomorrow.)
2. Da (Because)
Daniel muss lernen, da er morgen einen Test hat.
(Daniel has to study because he has a test tomorrow.)
3. Denn (Because)
Daniel muss lernen, denn er hat morgen einen Test.
(Daniel has to study because tomorrow he has a test.)
A quick note: Weil, da and denn are generally interchangeable. Keep in mind though that denn requires a different word order.
4. Damit (In order to; So that)
Lisa lernt viel, damit sie den Test besteht.
(Lisa is studying a lot in order to pass the test.)
5. Um (To; In order to)
Lisa lernt viel um den Test zu bestehen.
(Lisa is studying a lot to pass the test.)
6. Im Grunde (Basically; Fundamentally)
Im Grunde ist Deutsch keine schwierige Sprache.
(Fundamentally, German is not a difficult language.)
7. Eigentlich (Actually)
Eigentlich ist Deutsch nicht so schwierig, wie es scheint.
(Actually, German is not as difficult as it seems.)
Ordering Facts and Ideas
8. Ein Beispiel anführen (To give an example)
Ich möchte ein Beispiel anführen.
(I would like to give an example.)
9. Dieses Beispiel zeigt, dass… (This example shows that…)
Dieses Beispiel zeigt, dass das Lernen einer Fremdsprache beim Reisen viele Vorteile hat.
(This example shows that studying a foreign language has many advantages when traveling.)
10. Erstens… zweitens… (Firstly… secondly…)
Erstens kann man sich auf Reisen besser verständigen und zweitens lernt man viele neue Leute kennen.
(Firstly, you can communicate better while traveling, and secondly, you meet many new people.)
11. Das Wichtigste ist… (The most important thing is…)
Das Wichtigste ist die Angst vor der Sprache zu verlieren.
(The most important thing is to lose your fear of the language.)
12. Außerdem (Furthermore)
Außerdem kann man beim Reisen seine Sprachkenntnisse verbessern.
(Furthermore, you can improve your language knowledge while traveling.)
13. Nicht nur… sondern auch… (Not only… but also…)
Nicht nur im Unterricht, sondern auch im Alltag kann man viel Deutsch lernen.
(Not only in class, but also in everyday life you can learn a lot of German.)
14. Obwohl (Even though)
Obwohl Anna viel lernt, hat sie Probleme mit der deutschen Grammatik.
(Even though Anna studies a lot, she has problems with German grammar.)
15. Allerdings (However)
Anna lernt gerne Deutsch, allerdings hat sie Probleme mit der Grammatik.
(Anna enjoys studying German; however, she has problems with the grammar.)
16. Trotz (Despite)
Trotz ihrer Probleme mit der Grammatik lernt Anna gerne Deutsch.
(Despite her problems with German grammar, Anna enjoys studying German.)
17. Im Vergleich zu (In comparison to)
Im Vergleich zu Russisch ist Deutsch eine einfache Sprache.
In comparison to Russian, German is an easy language.
18. Im Gegensatz zu (In contrast to; Unlike)
Im Gegensatz zu Anna lernt Paul gerne neue Vokabel.
Unlike Anna, Paul enjoys learning new vocabulary.
Expressing Your Opinion
19. Meiner Meinung nach (In my opinion)
Meiner Meinung nach sollte jeder eine Fremdsprache lernen.
(In my opinion, everybody should study a foreign language.)
20. Ich bin der Ansicht, dass… (I believe that…)
Ich bin der Ansicht, dass jeder eine Fremdsprache lernen sollte.
(I believe that everybody should study a foreign language.)
21. Ich finde es schade, dass… (I think it’s a pity that…)
Ich finde es schade, dass die Schulen keine anderen Fremdsprachen unterrichten.
(I think it’s a pity that schools don’t teach other foreign languages.)
Summarizing and Concluding
22. Alles in Allem (Overall)
Alles in Allem ist Deutsch nicht so schwierig wie es scheint.
(Overall, German isn’t as difficult as it seems.)
23. Im Großen und Ganzen (Overall)
Im Großen und Ganzen ist Deutsch keine schwierige Sprache.
(Overall, German isn’t a difficult language.)
24. Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, dass… (In summary, it can be said that…)
Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, dass Sprachen beim Reisen sehr hilfreich sein können.
(In summary, it can be said that languages can be very helpful when traveling.)
Feeling a bit more confident about your next German essay now?
Just make a great essay plan, write down some new words and phrases that you want to include and off you go!
By sprinkling these bits of flair into your German essays, you’re sure to make your writing better and more effective.
Nicole Korlath is an Austrian freelance writer and travel blogger.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.