Maher Maher

Business emails
pre-intermediate and above level


In this lesson, learners will differentiate between formal and informal expressions used in emails and practice writing a formal email in a business context.


Abc HO2
Abc coloured phrase cards
Abc answer key
Abc HO1
Abc WB
Abc HO3

Main Aims

  • To provide process and product writing practice of a formal email in the context of business communication

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide fluency speaking practice in a discussion in the context of business communication
  • To provide clarification, review and practice of formal and informal expresions in the context of emails


Warmer/Lead-in (3-5 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Ask ss in open class: How do you communicate with your colleagues and customers at your job? Elicit answers: by phone, notes, letters, emails, etc Say: Today we're going to focus on emails. Write the following Qs on WB: 1. How many emails do you write a week? 2. Who do you write emails to? 3. What makes an email an effective one? Have ss discuss these Qs in pairs. Get brief feedback in open class.

Useful Language (8-10 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Ask: How are business emails different from other emails? Elicit that we use different/formal language. Give a copy of HO1 to each s. Do activity 1. Say: Look at activity 1. Work in pairs and decide which expressions are formal and which are informal. Get brief feedback in open class. Say: Match the greatings 1-6 with possible endings a-g. Have ss compare their answers in pairs. Then check the answer key for feedback. Do activity 2: Say: Match the lines from an informal email in column A with lines from a formal letter in column B. Have ss compare their answers in pairs. Then check the answer key for feedback.

Exposure (8-10 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading/listening

Give each S a copy of HO2 with the second activity folded and say: Here's an example fo a formal email. Instruct the ss to read the email and answer the questions in activity 1. Have ss compare their answers in pairs. Get brief feedback in open class. Do activity 2. Have ss unfold the worksheet, read the second email and say how it is different from the previous email. Elicit that this email is informal. Have ss work in pairs and find informal phrases to match with the formal phrases from activity 1. Monitor ss and assist if needed. Get brief feedback.

Productive Task(s) (18-20 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Say: We're going to practice writing a formal email now. Give each S a copy of HO3. Have ss read the sample informal email and discuss in pairs who it is from, who it is to and what it is about. Get brief feedback in open class. Instruct the ss to work in pairs and write a formal reply to the email. Monitor and assist when needed while ss are working. If time allows, have two or three pairs read their email outloud and give brief feedback.

Wrap-up (8-10 minutes) • To review target language (to compare more and less formal language for business emails).

Say: We're going to play a game now! Divide the ss into groups of 2, 3 or 4 and distribute one set of 20 cards to each group. Explain to the ss that it is a memory game. Ss take turns turning up two cards. If there is a match, the S keeps the cards. If not, the next player turns up two cards. A match consists of two cards with phrases that have the same function. The person with the most pairs is the winner. Model the activity to make sure that all the ss understand the rules. Demo with the groups if needed. Monitor and assist if needed. Give general feedback on ss performance and thank them for attending the workshop.

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