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!


  1. Thanks for the help! Got my exam this Monday so this is really good (even though I can't read most your handwriting lmao).

  2. Exam tomorrow! Reading through this to make sure i havent missed anything and this was really helpful for making sure i have points and phrases ready. Thanks a lot!

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