A Letter to a City Council
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TASK: Matching / Planning / Ordering / Proofreading
PURPOSE: Practice planning, drafting, proofreading and editing a formal letter
LEVEL: Intermediate / Upper intermediate
This worksheet can be used in an EFL / ESL / ESOL classroom for developing or improving students’ skills in writing a formal letter in English. The activities particularly aim at building up formal and informal vocabulary, recognising a letter layout, planning a letter and proofreading a draft text for errors in spelling, punctuation and use of capital letters. The answers for all the tasks are provided on a separate sheet.
Starting with a simple matching activity will help to reinforce or pre-teach 11 pairs of formal and informal phrases commonly used in letters. These pairs can be used during the final activity for editing the letter by replacing informal phrases by their formal equivalents for producing a letter with a level of formality suitable for the purpose of the text. The second activity aims at recapping or introducing a letter layout and helps develop learners’ independent thinking and decision making: the task is to look at 16 suggested ideas and decide on which 10 would be appropriate for the letter – this is an important stage of planning a text. The next activity offers the students to read 10 parts of a draft letter and match them to the plan, completed in the second task. This basic ordering activity aims at reminding the student of importance of following the points of the plan. The paragrahps of the draft letter contain 20 errors, including those in spelling, end-of-sentence punctuation and use of capital letters for proper names as well as for punctuating sentences. This task combined with replacing informal phrases with the appropriate formal equivalents will highlight the importance of proofreading and editing a draft before writing a final version of a text.
This resource might be more relevant to teachers and students of English based in the UK as far as the procedure of dealing with noise nuisance through contacting local authorities, such as a City Council, is a point specific for this country. Yet, this worksheet can be used in any English classroom if the teacher is willing to introduce or refer to cultural features of an English-speaking country. This is particularly important in situations when the students are looking into sitting examinations in English by the UK standards, seeking further education or employment in the UK, traveling or moving to the countries of the UK. A great follow-up activity might be a group discussion of the ways of dealing with a similar problem in other countries.
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