James Reckaway James Reckaway

Writing Formal Emails
Pre-Intermediate level


In this lesson, students will practice reading and writing formal emails. We will discuss the purpose of complaint emails, the proper form for writing an email, and necessary formal language to use throughout the different sections of the email


Main Aims

  • To provide product writing practice of a email in the context of formal complaints

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide review and practice of language used for complaining in the context of formal emails


Lead-In (2-3 minutes) • To get the students thinking about restaurants and bad situations someone might complain about.

Share the Google Slides Presentation. SLIDE 1 SLIDE 2 - Have students look at the picture and think about what's going on. Have OCFB to see what the students think.

Text Analysis (14-15 minutes) • To allow students to understand the proper purpose, form, and language to use in a formal email.

Purpose and Form: Share SLIDE 3 (complaint email) providing details to the picture from the lead-in exercise. Students read individually - 2 min Break into 2 groups and allow students to answer the questions on Slides 4 and 5 and arrange the tabs to the correct sections of the email. - 2 min Greeting, Introduction, Body, Conclusion, Closing 'Is the writing formal or informal?' 'Purpose of email?' Regroup for OCFB Language Items: Put students back in groups to underline key phrases in the email that provide evidence it is a formal complaint email. - 3 min Regroup for OCFB and ensure the following are underlined: 'To whom it may concern' 'I'm writing to inform you' 'This is unacceptable and very unprofessional' 'Sincerely' Share Google Jamboard activity In groups, students will place the stickers as a synonym under the proper associated phrase. 3 options are formal language that can be used. 1 option is informal language that should not be used. - 3 min Regroup for OCFB

Product Writing (15-17 minutes) • To allow the students to practice their own writing of a formal complaint email.

Share SLIDE 7 with students Instruct students to write their own formal complaint email. - 14 min They should pick one of the 3 topics to write about: 'Your car engine broke after leaving the mechanic shop.' 'You did not like your experience at a restaurant.' 'Your son told you another kid hit him at daycare today.' Assign slides 8-15 to individual students. Check in with students to provide guidance if needed.

Feedback (8-10 minutes) • To allow students to check each others' understanding of form and target language.

Instruct students they will be partnered with someone else to check each others' emails for proper form and appropriacy. Share SLIDE 16. Break into pairs and have students read silently for a couple of minutes while they answer the questions on slide 16. Students will then discuss their answers with each other in the breakout session. - 6 minutes Regroup and have OCFB on what the students wrote about and observed with each others' emails.

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