Wednesday 10 October 2018

Advice and Examples for A Level German Essay Writing (Andorra & Das Leben der Anderen)

Producing a sophisticated essay in a foreign language can potentially seem quite daunting, however it is far from impossible with a bit of practice. I can easily recall the initial alarm at being told to write two in-depth essays in German - a language I was far from confident with at the beginning of this year. Perhaps the most difficult thing to do, was to believe that a decent grade was achievable when everything appeared to be indicating the opposite. Even though in the first few essays, I achieved consistent D grades. It was merely a few months a prior to the exam and it seemed inevitable that this would be the mark listed on my certificate. The very first thing you need to do in order to ensure that this is not the case, is to completely ignore that feeling and continue search for ways to get better. Once this attitude is mastered, it can be applied to far more than simply German essays.

Most importantly your essay must answer the question! Before beginning an essay, it is extremely helpful to have a plan. In my plans I would write down the sentence structures I knew I would need in each paragraph, and also where I would fit in my impressive grammar structures.

Here are some examples:

Es geht um... (It is about)
Alles dreht sich um... (Everything revolves around...)
Einerseits… Anderseits… (On the one hand... on the other hand...)
Zusammenfassend möchte ich behaupten, dass…(To conclude I would like to assert that...)
Man könnte vielleicht sagen, dass… Trotzdem glaube ich, dass…, weil... (One could perhaps say that... However I believe that... because...)
Frisch konzentriert sich um...  (Frisch concentrates on...)
sowohl… als auch… (both... and...)
Frisch könnte nicht besser zeigen, dass… (Frisch could not better demonstrate, that...)
X hängt mit Y zusammen. (X and Y are related)
Was... betrifft (As far as... is concerned)
Um... zu… (In order to)
Im Gegensatz beweist sich Andri als mutig und in Realität ist der Soldat ein Feigling. (In contrast, Andri proves to be courageous and in reality the soldier is a coward.)

Many more sentence structures can be found in the example essays below.

It is also a good idea to include some complex grammar. By this I mean correct verb order, use of the subjunctive, the passive, maybe some complex adjectival phrases, and perhaps also the perfect and imperfect past tense (where relevant). If you are unaware of what any of that means, there are very good explanations on YouTube.

Here are some I have used before:

Hätte Wiesler die Reise nicht gemeldet, wäre die Zeitschriftsartikel nicht veröffentlicht worden.
Die von einfache Stil geprägten Gebäude.
Hätte Florian Henkel von Donnersmarkt diese Veränderung nicht enthaltet, wäre es eine weniger unterhaltend Film gewesen.
Ein wegen Rassissmus ermordeter Jude.
Wenn Frisch mehr Namen und Themen benutzt hätte, wäre das Thema der Ausländerfeindlichkeit nicht so stark.

Sie werden eng verbunden.
Schuld sei eine wichtige Frage, die diskutiert werden müsste.
Es wird effektiv vermittelt.
Frisch könnte nichts besser machen, Antisemitismus zu akzentuieren.
Hätte Max Frisch sich auf mehr Themen konzentriert und mehr Namen benutzt, wäre das Publikum sich weniger auf den Hauptthemen konzentriert.
Es wird mehrmals verwendet.
Vor mehrehen Jahren beobachtet hatte.
Für jeden, der in der DDR lebt.

You could take these structures and make them relevant to your own topic.

One mistake I was making was that I was simply trying too hard. I would type everything up on my laptop and invested so much time, which only caused my essay to lose focus. It was actually when I  finally cast my notes aside and scrawled up an essay on lined paper, that my mark eventually improved. My writing was simply more fluent and concise. In this way I learnt that your opinion should be clear, powerful and purposeful. In each paragraph a point should be stated, evidence provided, and an explanation made as to why your evidence proves your point. So for example you may say something like: "Frisch shows Racism through symbolism, 'Barblin paints the house white'. This represents purity and racism, as only white is allowed in society. It demonstrates the exclusion of people from other ethnicities." Arguments should be elaborated on in this manner but quotes are not needed for AQA - you may need only state the event as evidence.  Finally, if you cannot imagine a *mic drop* after your conclusion, then you are not conveying your point effectively.

For AQA at least, content is a large percentage of your mark. Therefore it is a good idea to be very aware of what is happening in the book or film you are writing about. When you go through a text in class, highlight what you consider to be significant lines/events. I also ordered the English version which really helped improve my understanding. Jot down anything worthwhile if you are studying a film too.

Below are all the practice essay titles made generic, not specific to one book or film. They provide an indication as to how the questions will be phrased and what vocabulary may be used to form a question.

Example Essays

Das Leben der Anderen (film):

Kann man den Film als Hoffnungsvoll bezeichnet?

In wie weit ist der Film authentisch?

Inwiefern spielt Wiesler Eine Heldenrolle im Film?

Andorra (play):

 Analysieren Sie die starksten Einflusse auf die Arbeit Max Frischs in diesem Werk.

Inwiefern gelingt es Max Frisch seine Ziele zu erreichen?

Welche Botschaft vermittelt Max Frisch in seinem Stuck Andorra, und welche Methoden verwendet er dabei?

Inwiefern spielen die Nebenfiguren Eine bedeutende Rolle?

Please note that these are my original scripts, including all errors and teacher's comments. If you identify any mistakes in this post, please feel free to correct them in the comments. Even if you are not studying Das Leben der Anderen or Andorra, it may still be useful to print off and read these essays if you need inspiration as to how to argue and structure your German essay. To print, simply click on each individual picture, right click to save, then find the file and print as you would normally. I hope this advice helped, viel Glück!

Saturday 10 February 2018

A Mini Lush Review

Although the whole world is probably very, very familiar with the contents of a 'Lush' shop, the vast variety of heavenly-scented products can sometimes be overwhelming. I know that I, myself, have walked into one of their stores many times and been at a loss as to where to begin. Therefore I have decided to pick out my favourite three products this month and share them with you, to save you trawling through three million different bath bombs and balms.

For those that read my Blog frequently, you will no doubt have come across this particular massage bar before. The 'Each Peach (And Two's A Pair) Massage Bar' maintains it's year-long place in my beauty bag thanks to its moisturising and energising properties. As a huge fan of citrus scents, I adore the combination of lime, mandarin, grapefruit and sweet wild orange. This concoction of oils I find to have an uplifting effect, perfect for applying after a shower to get you ready for your day.

Besides moisturising, exfoliation is another method successfully used to obtain smooth skin. The 'Pumice Powder Foot Soap' rubs away that second layer of dry skin on your feet, to leave a smooth finish. For my own feet I personally prefer a harsher exfoliator, however many people will view the soft feeling of this soap to be an advantage. The orange scent leaves your feet feeling refreshed and a noticeable difference is identifiable after a few uses. 

Although I have remained unquestionably loyal to my 'Each Peach' massage bar for years, I cannot deny that this 'Scrubee' Body Butter is extremely close to taking its place at number one. It is fairly new to 'Lush' and I highly recommend you try it out. The smell is the thing I feel obliged to mention first. It has an overall sweetness (good enough to eat) with an underlying honey fragrance. The effect is divine. You apply it to wet skin when in the shower and not only does it moisturise, it exfoliates too. I love how you can feel the grains against your skin, because then you can tell it is working properly. Unlike most bath products which seem to leave your skin as you leave the water, this keeps you feeling silky smooth all day.

Which Lush products should I try out next?

Saturday 3 February 2018

How to Make a Terrarium

A Terrarium is defined as an enclosed indoor garden typically made of glass so strictly speaking, this isn't one. However, whether you wish to construct a real terrarium or just one like I have created, the principles are the same.

 You will need: a container, gravel/pebbles, sphagnum moss, activated charcoal, soil and plants. All of which can be found in garden centres or online. This can easily be done within an hour and is a simple, fun way of spending an afternoon.Your typical online terrarium can range from less than £5 to about £100 so this is really a skill worth acquiring. 

Deciding upon a container is the first step in creating your own. This stage is crucial as it determines the overall aesthetic of your finished product. Popular shapes include prisms, globes or glass fishbowls like the one I have selected. If you wish to save money, plastic fishbowls intended for drinking are available at Poundland and Morrisons for a fraction of the price. They provide a similar outcome.

The process is very similar to creating the Christmas gifts I have blogged about previously (click HERE for a more detailed and clearly illustrated version). The first required layer is the gravel. This acts as a drainage system as the container does not have a hole like a typical plant pot. about 1/3 of your layers should be dedicated to this.

To prevent mould forming, and to keep the terrarium healthy, activated charcoal is vital. A thin layer should be added on top of your drainage system.

Many are of the opinion that Sphagnum moss should precede this layer of soil in order to soak up water at the bottom, however it is not of the utmost importance. As long has you have both layers you should be okay. I choose for this terrarium to add the soil first.

Your plants come next. I chose one little aloe plant and two others. I will have to replant these when they get too big for my container. It is easy to look up online which plants are suitable for a terrarium and choose accordingly, whichever takes your fancy. Though I wouldn't recommend overcrowding it; each plant needs sufficient room for it's roots.

Finally I added the moss as a more decorative element. The sphagnum moss aids in soaking up water for the plant to use as required, it makes it harder for you to overwater and drown them. Currently these plants live happily on my windowsill and have added a pleasant element of nature to my room. Despite being relatively easy to create, the effect is wonderful.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Books to Read January ǀ 2018

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

This is a story that leaves an impression on every single reader. Most people read this during the course of their life and if you haven't, then it is definitely something to consider. Harper Lee develops characters so beautifully that each is associated with a different, distinct characteristic. Part of the reason I don't want to read her second book is because of the enormous respect I hold for Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout, I'm not ready for their positive attributes to be questioned yet. Complex themes are explored in depth through the eyes of a young child, in a simple and understandable style. There are constant moral conflicts presented, with a strong emphasis on the idea right and wrong. Lee focuses on a series of issues constituting a southern American town in the nineteen-thirties, racism being the most prominent. Described is not just social inequality, but the human condition and mentality. Racism is supposed to make you uncomfortable. The relevance of this today serves as another reason to read it, besides the understandable prose and the general ingenuity of it.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

As an absolutely hilarious, light-hearted read, 'Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging' provides a stark contrast to 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'. It is a simple, witty and genuinely funny diary account of a teenage girl's life. I first read this at the age of thirteen and giggled at almost every other page. If you have a teenage daughter around this age, I could not recommend this more. You could describe it as a funnier, female version of 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4', or as very similar to 'Bridget Jones's Diary' but for a younger audience perhaps. I am still able to read it now and laugh at every chapter. If ever you need some cheering up, open this book.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Like all of the other books I have reviewed today, this is a very easy read. My favourite thing is the very dramatic tension built up to in the end. Although it is easily anticipated and very much expected, it still scares you in the same way that many of his novels succeed in doing so. You wait to realise the outcome of a situation with baited breath, making the chapter worth reading. Structurally this was also quite interesting. I liked the way that the first chapter was written and then soon after dissected by one of the other characters. Whilst there is no denying that Horowitz is an excellent writer, I would like to offer some criticism to this particular story of his. I came to the conclusion that this was an unsuccessful attempt to make the transition to adult literature. Writing yourself into a book and making a cameo appearance is difficult at the best of times. As a child Alex Rider (another character of Horowitz's) is forgiven for his perception of his surroundings and people. However, Anthony as an adult, comes across as quite judgemental. Being a first-person account, as a reader we gain a lot insight into Horowitz's life, which is probably not fictional, and is also irrelevant to the story line. Within the book, he mentions that he is growing further away from his audience (of children) with every year. This lead me to a conclusion which I haven't yet managed to shake: that this seems to be reminiscent of some form of midlife crisis. There were some very obvious techniques used, particularly towards the end, which arguably would have sat more comfortably in a children's novel. 'The Word is Murder', I believe, will act as a stepping stone to Anthony Horowitz, as he refines his literature to be fitting to an adult reader. I look forward to reading whatever he writes next.

Sunday 7 January 2018

Kitesurfing in Montenegro

This journey actually began with us being deported from Montenegro, having had to turn around and leave at the border because we did not have the original documents for the car. We then drove all the way back to Dubrovnik where we had been already very early that morning, dropping off my friend Matt at the airport. Over breakfast the decision was made to rent a car for a couple of days and attempt to cross the border once more. So, as a family of five with dog, in a foreign car on the backroads, we tried once more.

Montenegro is perhaps most known for being the setting for a part of Casino Royale. Despite this, the reality upon entering was far from that glamourous image. Even though it was very beautiful, it seemed as if things were developing all over the place but with no real plan or thought out infrastructure. Being in Croatia less than an hour previously really emphasised the difference that being in the EU makes to a country. Thankfully we had a surfing destination in mind so stayed in a more remote village, far from the chaos we had driven through that morning. Although we actually did very little kitesurfing, I enjoyed the beach and walking around Kotor. The best bit was going to a kite beach near Ulcijn where we were familiar with the owner of a company called Kiteloop. There, we enjoyed the friendly chilled out atmosphere. My advice for visiting Montenegro would be to plan your itinerary in advance, reading reviews online, particularly those mentioning how crowded places are, before visiting. It is a country with potential for a lovely holiday.