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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

IELTS General Writing: informal letter I wrote the following letter with some of my students here in Manchester. It contains some great examples of informal phrases. Can you guess what the full question was?

IELTS General Writing: resignation letter

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

IELTS General Writing: formal phrases Here are some formal phrases that I've used in previous lessons. See if you can use them in your own letters: Beginning the letter by explaining why you are writing:

I am writing with regard to...

I am writing to inform you that... I am writing to bring to your attention some issues with... Requesting or suggesting something:

I have decided that I would like you to... I am entitled to ask for... I was wondering if it would be possible (for me) to...

I hope that you will... I would like to suggest that... Ending the letter with a request for action:

I look forward to receiving your response.

I await your prompt response. IELTS General Writing: 'new business' letter I haven't done a lesson about the General Writing test for a while, so here's an interesting question that a student sent me. I'll share my answer next week.

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

Remember that the examiner is looking for the following things:


The tone must be appropriate (formal or informal)

The purpose of the letter must be clear You must cover all of the points The letter must be well-organised You need to use some good (and relevant) vocabulary

IELTS General Writing: some questions Here are some questions that a student asked me about General Writing task 1: 1. Should I write the date at the top of a formal letter? No, in the IELTS test you should not write the date or your address. 2. Should I use indentation at the start of a new paragraph?

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

You can either indent or miss a line. Just make sure it's clear that you have begun a new paragraph. Personally, I think missing a line is clearer. 3. Should I end the letter with "Yours..." on the left or on the right? Always end the letter on the left. Have a look at my letters on this page. 4. Should I sign the letter before writing my name? No, don't sign your name. You don't even need to put your real name. Personally, I use a first name (e.g. John) for informal letters, and a full name (e.g. John Smith) for formal letters. IELTS General Writing: environment problem Here's a recent question from General IELTS writing task 1:

IELTS General Writing: verb tenses

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

Let's look again at the letter I wrote last week. One interesting thing to notice is the variety of verb tenses: Present simple I take, the overcrowding means, this is... Present continuous I am writing, passengers are becoming, delays are making... Present perfect my train has arrived, I have been unable, I have seen... Future you will address IELTS General Training: letter of complaint Let's do a quick plan for the question below.

Problems: trains arrive late and are overcrowded Effects: people arriving late for work, uncomfortable, unhappy Changes: more regular trains, more carriages to increase space Always do a quick plan! The plan above only took me a couple of minutes, and now I'm ready to write a good essay. I'll post it next week.

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

IELTS General Writing: 'travel problem' topic

Before you start writing, quickly note down some ideas for each point:

Problem: I was given the wrong boarding card.

Effect: I missed two days of my holiday. Request: I would like compensation for the flight and other expenses. Don't worry about whether the problem seems realistic or not. You will be judged according to how well you express ideas, not on the ideas themselves.

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

IELTS General Writing: some informal phrases The phrases below make the letter in this lesson a bit more friendly / informal:

my place (meaning 'my house')

a few things (avoid the word 'thing' in more formal contexts) pick up the keys (meaning 'collect') pop round (meaning 'visit') a bit warmer ('bit' is informal, use 'little' if you want to sound more formal) worth checking out (meaning 'a good idea to go there')

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

IELTS General Writing: planning ideas It's a good idea to write a quick plan before you start writing your letter. Take this question for example:

Here's my quick plan:


Informal style - friend's name can be John. Quick greeting and reason for writing. Neighbour at number 10 has keys. Visit any time after 5pm. Instructions about turning the heating off and opening the windows. Good local restaurant and a traditional festival in the town during his visit. IELTS General Writing: letter to a tutor You have a full-time job and are also doing a part-time evening course. You now find that you cannot continue the course. Write a letter to the course tutor. In your letter

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

describe the situation

explain why you cannot continue at this time say what action you would like to take There are three main things to consider before writing your essay: 1. Tone (formal or informal) Sometimes students are friendly with their tutors, but I think it would be better to write a formal letter. Start with your tutors surname (e.g. Dear Mr. Smith,) and end with Yours sincerely,. Avoid contractions (write I am instead of Im), and avoid using informal idioms or expressions. Be polite rather than friendly. 2. Purpose The main purpose of this letter is to inform your tutor that you are leaving the course. Make this clear straight away (e.g. I am writing to inform you that...). Then cover the three points, writing a short paragraph for each. 3. Ideas I recommend spending a few minutes planning ideas for each of the task points before you start writing. You need to decide what the evening course is about, what your full-time job is, a reason why you are too busy with work to continue with the course, and whether you want to leave completely or perhaps continue at a later date.

IELTS General Writing: semi-formal? IELTS books and teachers sometimes talk about formal, semi-formal, and informal letters. But a student asked me an interesting question recently: Can we make things easier by forgetting about "semi-formal"?

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

Actually, I think the answer is yes! When writing to a colleague or neighbour, you can write in a friendly, informal way using the informal features mentioned in this lesson. I can't really think of any reason why we need the "semi-formal" category for IELTS writing purposes. Your letter will be either formal or friendly! Note: Feel free to disagree with me if you can find a reason why we need the semi-formal category. Maybe I've missed something. IELTS General Writing: how to start and end letters It's important to start and end letters in the correct way, depending on who you are writing to. The table below should give you all you need.

IELTS General Training: informal and formal For my first two General Training lessons I wrote examples of an informal and a formal letter. Today I want to highlight some of the differences between them. Informal letter:

Beginning: Dear + first name Friendly greeting: I hope this letter finds you well. Contractions: I'm, didn't, couldn't, there's... Questions: Do you remember...? Why don't you...? Exclamation: ...earlier than I thought it was!

Linking: Well, Anyway, so, and Phrases: had a great time, couldn't have asked for, working flat out, back to normal Ending: Hope to see you soon + first name Formal letter:

Beginning: Dear Sir or Madam No greeting necessary No contractions: I am, did not... Normally avoid direct questions: "I would like" instead of "Can I have?" No exclamation marks (!) Linking: However, Consequently, and, also Phrases and vocabulary: with regard to, appliance, it was installed, the following day, failed to (meaning "didn't"), procedure, he assured me, report the issue, contacted, under warranty, I am entitled to, replacement, phone me personally

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

Ending: I await your prompt response, Yours faithfully + full name

Note: Both letters also contain 'neutral' vocabulary that can be used in any type of letter. For example, I didn't highlight words like 'hosts', 'deadline' or 'assignment' because they could be used in both formal and informal contexts.

IELTS General Training: formal letter

You recently bought a piece of equipment for your kitchen but it did not work. You phoned the shop but no action was taken. Letter must be formal Invent a problem e.g. they didnt phone back repair or replacement Write a letter to the shop manager. In your letter describe the problem with the equipment explain what happened when you phoned the shop say what you would like the manager to do Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing with regard to an appliance that I recently bought from your shop. On the 10th May I bought a new washing machine, and it was installed the following day. However, when I tried to wash some clothes, I noticed that the machine failed to spin during the washing cycle. Consequently, it leaves clothes wet but not clean. When I phoned your shop to report the problem, I spoke to an assistant who did not know the procedure for repairs or returns. He assured me that he would report the issue to the store manager, and that I would be contacted the same day. That was two days ago, and I am still waiting for your call. As the appliance is under warranty, I am entitled to ask for it to be repaired or replaced. I have decided that I would like a replacement washing machine. I would also like you to phone me personally when you receive this letter. I await your prompt response. Yours faithfully, John Smith (175 words) Analysis task:

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON Is the tone of the letter appropriate? In other words, is it written in a formal style? Can you find examples of style / tone? Is the purpose of the letter clear? Are all of the points covered? Is the letter well-organised? Are the points developed in a logical way? Can you find any examples of linking or referencing? Can you find examples of good, relevant vocabulary? Is the vocabulary appropriate for a formal letter? Are there any grammar mistakes? IELTS General Training: informal letter For my first lesson about IELTS General Training task 1, I'm attaching a model answer with an analysis task. The analysis task encourages you to look at the letter through the eyes of an examiner

Letter will be informal. Invent your friends names Remember to say thank you Invent a reason Include a direct invitation Last month you had a holiday overseas where you stayed with some friends. They have just sent you some photos of your holiday.

Write a letter to your friends. In your letter thank them for the photos and for the holiday explain why you didnt write earlier invite them to come and stay with you

Dear John and Jane,

I hope this letter finds you well. Im just writing to thank you both for the holiday and for the photos you sent. The photos arrived this morning in the post. They reminded me what a great time I had during my stay with you last month. You really were fantastic hosts, and I couldnt have asked for better guides to show me around. Sorry I didnt write to you earlier, but Ive been working flat out since the moment I arrived home. Do you remember I told you I had an assignment to finish? Well, the deadline was two weeks earlier than I thought it was!

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IELTS ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 - SIMON

Anyway, Im back to normal now and Ive handed in all of my assignments. In fact, now that Im free, why dont you both come and stay? Theres a spare room here, so youre welcome to use it whenever you like. Hope to see you soon, Peter

(158 words)

Analysis task: Is the tone of the letter appropriate? In other words, is it written in an informal style?

Can you find examples of style / tone? Is the purpose of the letter clear? Are all of the points covered?

Is the letter well-organised? Are the points developed in a logical way? Can you find any examples of linking or referencing? Can you find examples of good, relevant vocabulary? Is the vocabulary appropriate for an informal letter? Are there any grammar mistakes?

A few key things to remember:


The 'tone' of the letter must be appropriate (i.e. formal or informal).

The purpose of the letter must be clear. You must cover all of the points. Write an equal amount for each. The letter must be well-organised, with logically connected ideas. Try to use some good vocabulary, and try not to make too many mistakes!

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