In this information age, emails are very common and everyone is expected to know how to write them. In 2015, 2018 and 2019, letter writing was tested in Cambridge IGCSE English papers.

Examples of how letter writing is being tested in directed writing:
1. Imagine that your aunt and uncle are considering educating your cousin at home and have asked for your views. Your cousin is an only child and, in your opinion, rather spoilt.
Write a letter to your aunt and uncle in which you should explain:
– the advantages of being homeschooled
– the reasons why home-schooling may not be advisable
– why you would or would not recommend home-schooling for your cousin
Begin your letter: ‘Dear Aunt and Uncle…’.
Write about 250 to 350 words.
Up to 10 marks are available for the content of your answer, and up to 15 marks for the quality of your writing.
(extracted from Cambridge IGCSE 2015 & 2019 English paper)

2. Imagine that you are a parent of a teenager who attends a school which is considering starting the school day two hours later.
Write a letter to the headteacher giving your views.
In your letter, you should:
– consider the advantages and disadvantages of starting school later for children, parents and the wider community.
-explain the reasons why you agree or disagree with a later start for the school day.
Begin your letter: ‘Dear Headteacher…’.
Write about 250 to 350 words.
Up to 10 marks are available for the content of your answer, and up to 15 marks for the quality of your writing.
(extracted from Cambridge IGCSE 2018 English paper)

3. Write a letter to your sister who lives in another part of the country, telling her about all that has happened.
In your letter your should cover the following points:
– What happened during the first few days of the snowstorm
– How the people in your household and the neighbours reacted to the snow
– The problems caused by the snow and how your and your family coped with them.
Begin your letter, ‘My dearest…’.
Write about 200 to 300 words.
Up to 10 marks are available for the content of your answer, and up to 5 marks for the quality of your writing.
(extracted from Cambridge IGCSE 2018 English paper)


Check out the articles and videos in Facts/findings/readings to better prepare your kids or students in letter/email writing.

Types of Emails:

1. Announcement email
2. Apology email
3. Application email
4. Complaint email
5. Business email
6. Condolence email
7. Friendship email
8. Goodbye email
9. Interview email
10. Job application email

Like letters, we have formal and informal writing. Typically, both follow the same format/structure.

Structure of letters/emails:

1. Salutation
2. Three body paragraphs
3. Closure

Salutation:
For both formal emails and letters, if you know the surname of the recipient, you will address Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms. (e.g. Mr Boris) If you do not know the name of the recipient, we could write ‘To whom it may concern’ or Dear Sir/Madam. For informal emails and letters, we can start your email with a causal greeting, followed by the person’s name and a comma. ( e.g. ‘hi’, ‘hey’ or ‘hello’)

Body: Each paragraph should revolve round one idea.

Closure: Call for action or wrap up discussion with a friendly note to show you look forward to keeping in touch with them.

For the closure of formal letter/email, ‘Yours faithfully‘ can be used when the recipient is not addressed by name. In cases when the name is known, ‘Yours sincerely‘ could be an option.

Best regards‘ is acceptable for both formal and informal writing.

Very causal and warm examples of signing off informal letters or emails are ‘Hugs’, ‘Love’ or ‘Gratefully’ when a friend has done you a favour.

Contractions such as ‘I’m’ and ‘can’t’ can be used in informal writing but not in formal letters and emails. Appropriate usage of passive voice and active voice is vital for formal writing as active voice may sound a little too direct and rude sometimes. On the other hand, passive voice can give us a less confrontational feel as it softens the tones which is preferable in formal writing.

For example:
In active voice: We will not release the results today.
In passive voice: Results will not be released today.

For example:
In active voice: I did my work.
In passive voice: My work was done.



Watch this space for samples of emails.