Handwriting Examples and Tools
Old German gothic handwriting and print are very different from the Roman script most English-speaking genealogists use. For examples of old German Gothic handwriting see Old German Handwriting (Gothic) and the Handwriting Guide: German Gothic.
Sütterlin or Suetterlin writing ("old German hand") is a practiced style of writing similar to earlier styles. This is a script, created by the Berlin graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin (1865-1917), which was taught from 1915 to 1941 in German schools. It is also called the "deutsche Schrift". The website suetterlinschrift.de allows you to type any word and see what it would look like in that script. This is a very useful learning tool. This comparison page for the alphabet gives multiple examples of each letter.
Tutorials and Classes
A three-part online class called Reading German Handwritten Records is available on the FamilySearch.org website.
Another helpful learning tool is the German Script Tutorial. This section shows how letters are formed, provides practice exercises, and allows students to test their knowledge.
Taking a course in German genealogy from a reputable college is also a worthwhile option for those who want to succeed in reading old German script. Such a course provides opportunities to practice your reading ability. For example, Brigham Young University - Independent Study offers such a free course in German Research.
German Word Lists
If you do not know German, additional helps may be required such as the German Word List page on this wiki or a list of German Numbers from about.com. In order to not be overwhelmed, focus on key words. Numbers are often written out, such as when they appear in paragraph form church register entries. These numbers represent birth, christening, marriage and other important dates within church registers. They can be especially difficult to read when the German word is not known.
The book Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents by Roger P. Minert is an excellent textbook for studying the German script. It can be purchased here
A useful chapter on German print and script is found on pages 204 to 217 of:
Schweitzer, George K. German Genealogical Research. Knoxville, Tennessee, USA: Schweitzer, 1992. (FHL book 973 D2sg.)
Another is on pages 171 to 197 of Smith's German Church Books. The chart in the next column shows how each letter of the alphabet looks in gothic handwriting and type.
A further really useful book for help is If I Can You Can Decipher Germanic Records by Edna M. Bentz.
The ISBN for the book is ISBN-10: 0961542004 or ISBN-13: 978-0961542009. It can be purchased online.