Getting students to understand the differences between formal and informal letters is an important step towards helping them master differences in register required for writing in English. These exercises focus on helping them improve their understanding of the type of language that is used in an informal letter. Generally speaking, the main difference between informal and formal letters is that informal letters are written as people speak. There is currently a tendency in business communications to move away from formal writing style to a more, personal informal style. Students should be able to understand the differences between the two styles. Help them learn when to use formal and informal writing style with this exercise.
Aim: Understanding proper style for and writing of informal letters
Activity: Understanding the difference between formal and informal letters, vocabulary practice, writing practice
Level: Upper intermediate
- Ask students which situations call for a formal letter and which situations call for an informal letter.
- Have students brainstorm on the differences between formal and informal letters written in their native language.
- Once you have discussed the various differences between the two styles, introduce the topic of differences in English letter writing by giving them the worksheet asking students to decide on the differences between formal and informal phrases used in letter writing.
- Correct exercise as a class discussing any questions that may occur.
- Ask the students to do the second exercise which focuses on appropriate formulas for writing informal letters.
- Discuss the differences in layout and language between informal and informal letters. (indentation, the use of contracted verb forms, the use of phrasal verbs and idiomatic language, etc.)
- Have students write an informal letter choosing one of the suggested topics.
Look at the phrases 1-11 and match them with a purpose A-K
Choose one of the three subjects and write a letter to a friend or family member
- Write a letter to a friend you haven't seen or spoken to in a long time. Tell him / her about what you have been doing and ask them how they are and what they have been up to recently.
- Write a letter to a cousin and invite them to your wedding. Give them some details about your future husband / wife.
- Write a letter to a friend you know has been having some problems. Ask him / her how she / he is doing and if you can help.
Back to lessons resource page