Dear My Dear: 6 Letters All ESL Students Should Write
Most ESL teachers, at one point or another, review with their students how to write personal and business letters, but that alone is not enough.
Your students should have an opportunity to practice different types of letters, in this case friendly letters, for when they are required to write one in the future. Here are six types of friendly letters you should review with your students.
How to Review Six Types of Friendly Letters with Your Students
Though not the most popular form of communication in the twenty-first century, writing letters is still a handy form of communication from time to time. The art of personal communication through letter writing does not have to be lost. Often, a friendly letter is in response to another letter. If your students are writing this type of letter, politeness says they should thank the person for their letter and answer any questions that person may have asked. By doing this, the writer shows that he or she appreciates what the other person has written. When deciding what to write in this type of letter, challenge your students to think about information or topics that would interest both the writer and the recipient. In addition, including as much detail as possible will make the letter more interesting. Your students may want to include some questions for their readers, but make sure they understand that too many questions are frustrating for the reader.
Thank You Letter
Social convention often requires a thank you note when someone does something nice for you or gives you a gift. Help your students understand that thank you notes are a cultural expectation, and they should practice writing thank you letters so they are comfortable writing one in the future. Similar to the friendly letter, a thank you note should express thanks for the action or gift that the writer received. Rather than typing the note and using blank paper, thank you notes are most often written on decorative cards by hand. A typed thank you note seems too cold and insincere to the reader.
Letter of Condolence
Though unfortunate, your students will find themselves in situations in which they must send a letter of condolence. This type of letter expresses sympathy to the reader who has been in a difficult situation. Most often that situation will be the death of a loved one, but your students may also find themselves writing this kind of letter if, among other reasons, someone is sick, has lost his job or has an accident. Your students shouldstart the letter by saying why they are writing and then follow with their feelings about the situation. When your students write this type of letter, they must walk the thin line between expressing condolence and increasing the readers sorrow. Again, this will be a situation in which cultural sensitivity will come into play and where the writer should be highly sensitive to the reader’s predicament.
Letter of Invitation
Sometimes, whether for a party or other event, your students will have to write a letter of invitation to someone. When writing this type of letter, it is most important to be specific in the details of the event and to express to the reader what you want from them. Your students may need to know how many people will attend a certain event, if a guest needs special accommodations or any of a number of other bits of information. Your students should make sure they are giving and asking for all the information they need from this type of letter while keeping the tone upbeat and friendly.
Letter of Regret
The letter of invitation is only half of the equation. If your students were to receive a letter of invitation, they need to know that they are expected to answer that letter. When they are unable to attend the event, they will have to write a letter of regret. This is most important for formal situations for which they have received formal invitations – a wedding, a graduation and the like. When writing this type of letter, make sure your students include a thank you for the invitation as well as the reason they will be unable to attend.
Letter of complaint
The challenge here is to be honest about your disappointment without being rude or inappropriate. The writer must be able to express negative things in a positive way. Not only will this type of letter challenge your students’ abilities to compose sentences and paragraphs, it will also help them understand what is culturally appropriate when complaining.
There really is nothing like a hand written letter, and there are more occasions on which to write them than one might think at first glance.
By giving your students practice with various types of letters, they will be better prepared for the situations in which they will need to write to the people they care about and do it in English.
Susan likes to enjoy every day to its fullest whether she is freelance writing, teaching homeschoolers, or developing her special talent of instigation. When she is not imagining sand castles or catching others off balance, she cooks, sings, reads and takes walks in the sunshine. She earned an M.A. from the University of Delaware in Linguistics and an M.A. from Trinity School for Ministry in Youth Ministry. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her three cheepy cockatiels.
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