German and English have very similar roots. Even people who have never studied German seriously can pick up the meanings of a few words based on their visual similarity to their English counterparts alone. Added to this is the fact that English borrows liberally from other languages so that words such as schadenfreud and zeitgeist are familiar to speakers of both languages. Regardless, as a new student of German, writing the language can be a challenge initially. Here are some methods that can help you:
English has practically no accents and those that it has come from borrowed words. Knowing where to put an umlaut and where it does not belong takes practice. This can be done through flash cards either in physical form or online. Students of previous generations could only write or buy flash cards but you have the option to use free flashcard creating software some of which come with a supporting smartphone app for learning on the go.
They’re not all created equal and by using different text books you can see the same phrases translated in different ways. This helps you understand the subtle nuances of each word and when you write in German you will more closely approximate your true meaning.
This also helps to get you to attach the subtle meanings to phrases. Get the best possible translation to make sure you get the most out of this exercise.
This can be done by listening to German music. By doing this you get a feeling for how the words sound at conversational speed from someone who does not recognise that you are a non-native speaker. When you look at what you’ve written you can see how well you understood what you heard and also how many phrases and slang words you can incorporate into your own repertoire.
Closed captioning and subtitles are some of the most helpful tools for language learners. News stories are good for this because they tend to contain evocative images to help you guess the words you don’t understand. Soap operas are also effective for this because they tend to be overacted and even a child can guess the character’s intent from their expressions and body language
With these tips alone, your German writing skills will get better.