Can beginning students write sentences and even paragraphs? Sure, with topics that interest them, some guidance and a few writing tricks.
In this guided journal, students answer five questions about themselves and their world, using the words from the questions along with basic vocabulary they are learning in class. Then, they add extra words and ideas and string it all together into a short journal entry.
These activities work well for beginners (German 1) as well as for students who know some German already (German 2 and 3), who can use them for review.
Topics include typical beginner themes: self, friends, music, family, school, clothes, hobbies, routines, etc. Each page includes the questions with lines for answers, a box to collect words and ideas, vocabulary and grammar pointers, and a writing tip both in German and English.
The pages can be used in sequence or individually. For each topic, there is a basic journal entry (usually first person) about the student and an additional one that widens the perspective (in 3rd person singular, or in the plural). Some include opportunities to interview fellow students or find out more about a topic.
As a teacher, you can use as much or as little guidance as needed, depending on the students’ level and what has been covered in class. You can check and correct the students’ answers or have them do peer editing, then let the students use that feedback to improve their writing and turn it into a short paragraph. You can also use the material as an introduction or review of grammar and vocabulary concepts, or to focus on an element of writing.
Once students are used to the pattern, they can do the activities independently, for example during a substitute lesson.
Students who have learning disabilities or work more slowly can just do the first assignment for each topic. The second assignment can be used with the whole class, as an enrichment activity for more advanced students, or as a review of the topic at a later time.
The instructions include suggested answers and sample paragraph with additions students and teachers could make. When I taught Spanish 1, not being a native speaker and being a bit rusty, I found it hard to teach writing activities, so I kept that in mind when creating materials in German. If you find yourself teaching German, but realize that you are not well enough prepared for it, I hope that the samples will help.