Lower Intermediate School Students level
To provide process and product writing practice of a business letter in the context of to inquire/complain/suggest [an issue] to the middle school headmistress
To provide practice of language used for making requests in the context of in real life issues
Procedure (45-55 minutes)
My friend was traveling from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. She had a box in which she placed 3 expensive watches that she worked so hard to buy. Sadly, when she arrived in Saudi Arabia and opened her bags, the three watches were gone! She read online and found that it was a worldwide problem, that expensive things should not be placed in bags, rather in your handbag that never leaves your sight! I was so angry, that I wrote a letter to the airline company about how such incidents are unacceptable. In another incident, I tell them about the insurance company that refused to pay money because I didn't take an ambulance to the hospital, and how I emailed them a very harsh email asking about my rights. Sadly, I didn't get a reply back from the airline; however, I did get a reply back from the insurance company and they said to go ahead to the hospital and they will pay. I decided it wasn't worth it and that I will just check up on my leg when I get back to Egypt. The idea is a well written mail or e-mail can help you a lot. I ask my students when did they or someone they knew (parents/uncles/grandmothers) write a formal letter and why. I jot down their answers on the white board.
I will then steer the conversation to writing to famous TV shows, did you ever write to Dr. Phil, Oprah, Ellen etc. After listening to their answers,I will tell them that I have 2 letters that were sent from a young Egyptian magician who wanted to travel to the US to participate in AGT. The students know it's not true, but they love AGT and of course Simon Cowell the man who put One Direction together. I will hand out the 4 letters between the aspiring magician Adham Helmy and Simon Cowell from AGT. I will ask them to read them in groups and put them in the order in which they were sent, 1,2,3, and 4. We then have a discussion on the language used, and which 2 are more formal, and which 2 are less formal. I will ask my students: "Why do you think there is a change of tone?" "Does this happen with all business correspondence?"
In pairs, students are tasked to label the different parts of a business letter: Date Sender’s Contact Information Receiver’s Contact Information Greeting Introduction as to why you are writing Close Handwritten signature Signature To familiarize the students with the letter layout. After that, students are handed out the functions sheet; they will take out the useful language from the four letters that they can use in their letters.
Students are now instructed to write a letter to the middle school headmistress about any complaint/inquiry/suggestion that they may have. The goal is to write about something meaningful that they truly care about, as she will reply to their mail. They are to format it, sign it and everything and then show it to me for error correction with them. The group with the lowest error correction is the winner.
Now it is time to wrap up, and provide feedback to the students. It is also time to discuss how a letter can and does change lives. I show them examples on the PowerPoint of students who changed the world by sending out a letter. Then I distribute a reading about Samantha Smith. We then have a class discussion about the letters they would wish to write to change the world! As a bonus assignment, students will write for a cause they truly believe it. During our studies thus far, we touched upon child slavery and animal rights; but the students are free to write upon any issue that they feel strongly for.