Deutsch 221/231 Aufsatz 1

Aufsatz 1 (250 Wörter – Make sure to DOUBLE SPACE your essay!)


Either find a German song that you find interesting or write about “Der Erlkönig.” Pick one of the figures in the song, or imagine you are the voice of the song, and tell the story of the song from this person’s perspective. Feel free to add your own twist to the happenings described in the lyrics. Be creative! Use the first 50-100 words to introduce yourself: who (or what) are you, and what are you like? Then use the remaining 150-200 words to write what you (i.e. the person/thing you’re pretending to be) think about the song.

  • WICHTIG: Benutzen Sie Ihre eigenen [=own] Worte. Read the following policies very carefully.

Academic Integrity, Essays and Homework

This course is governed by the prevailing Codes of Student Conduct and of Academic Integrity of the University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA). All work submitted must be original student work produced for this course, with proper quotation and citation of the contributions of others. Violations of Academic Integrity will be taken seriously and can in serious cases result in a failing grade for the course and/or referral to the LSA Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. Click here to see the official LSA pages on Academic Integrity, including a quiz on Academic Integrity.

The four essays you submit for this course are where this policy crucially applies. While we appreciate that you can learn many things from native speakers, others who are proficient in German, or from online translators, our requirement is that you turn in your own writing so that you can go through the invaluable process of revising your first draft(s). Our goal is language acquisition, which is achieved when you really dive into your individual and unique production of German.

Directions for citing resources

Note all of the following situations in which you should put words or phrases in BOLD (or, alternatively, underline themin your essay, and then CITE the source at the end of your essay.

  • You can ask your instructor, an instructor in the German Lab, or some other proficient speaker 3 or 4 specific questions on how to say something. Cite their name and the date you got help.
  • You may ONLY use an online translator like Google Translate for single words and short phrases. Clearly indicate these, include the English phrase you were checking, and then cite the translating tool. **Important: If your essay is clearly above the level of your work in class and on tests and homework, your instructor will hand it back to you and ask you to rewrite it.
  • If you consult any additional resources (e.g. Wikipedia or other online sources), even if you did not quote from them directly, cite these.
  • Put any direct quotes in quotation marks and cite the source with a footnote.
  • If you have no sources to cite (you didn’t look anything up in a dictionary, no one helped you, and you consulted no other sources), please write “I did not consult any outside sources for this essay” at the end!

    Situations in which you DON’T need to cite

    • It is good practice to look up the genders and plurals of nouns, and the conjugation patterns of verbs you use in your essay.
    • We encourage you to use a German spellchecker for your essays.

Fundamental Advice

Click here for more advice on writing in German without thinking in English, a very good habit to get into!

Jot down some ideas in simple German. Then use the German you’ve learned like Legos to connect these ideas and make them more interesting:

  • Connect sentences/phrases using conjunctions
  • Vary the word order. Put something other than the subject in position 1 sometimes.
  • See if you can include some of the adjectives, adverbs, and other interesting vocab from the Gateway List.

Remember that even a short essay should have a structure:

  • an introductory paragraph that gets the reader interested
  • 1 – 3 paragraphs in the body of the essay, each of which has a recognizable logic, as opposed to being simply a list of statements
  • a final paragraph summing up your story or “argument”

Grading rubrics: these will give you a clearer idea of what to strive for in terms of content and language.