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SPM English: Directed Writing (Informal Letter)

Formats for Informal Letter in the Malaysian school system:


Include the writers address and date in the upper right hand corner. The date can be
written in different forms. (examples: 7th September 2009, 7 September 2009 or
7.9.2009)
Use the most common salutation. (example: Dear John)
Indent paragraphs.
Include a suitable complimentary close. (example: Your Loving Daughter)
Do not use regards as it is considered slightly more formal and distant.
Also, do not use best wishes as this is considered inappropriate.
Use proper punctuation. For example, a comma should be used after the salutation
and complimentary close.
Use capitalisation where necessary. For example, the month of the date (10 January
2009), the salutation (Dear Maria)
Lets look at some important aspects of an informal letter.
1.

Organisation
Paragraph 1 include formalities; give reason for writing the letter.
Paragraph 2 onwards depends on the reason for writing the letter. If
your reason is to tell the recipient about your holiday, then you will
include details of the holiday.
The last paragraph you can give a reason why you have to stop
writing such as:
I am sorry I have to stop here because it is getting late.
I am sorry I have to stop here because
I have to stop now because
Or you can simply end the letter in a number of appropriate ways as shown in #3 below.
2.

Some useful expressions on how to begin an informal letter


I was pleasantly surprised to hear from you.
Thank you for your letter. I was pleased to hear that you are in good health.
It was really nice hearing from you. I am glad that you like your new school.
I hope this letter finds you in the pink (of health).
Thank you for the lovely birthday card.

3.

Some useful expressions on how to end an informal letter


I promise to write to you soon.
I hope you will reply soon.
Give my best wishes to your parents.
I am looking forward to seeing you.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Do write and tell me how you are progressing.
Senders address / Your address
Date

___________________________

___________________________
___________________________
___________________________
___________________________
___________________________
_____

Salutation (Eg. Dear John/ Dear Arief)

___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Paragraph 1 - Include
formalities; give reason
for writing the letter.

___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Paragraph 2, 3, 4

___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________

Suitable complimentary close


Senders name

Depends on the
reason for writing the
letter. If your reason
is to tell the recipient
about your holiday,
then you will include
details of the holiday.

Last Paragraph Give


reason on why you have
to stop writing.

___________________________
___________________________

Notes:

The address: There is a comma after each line, there is a full stop at the end of the
address, you can include the name of your state if the person youre writing to is from
another state, include the name of your country if the receiver is from overseas.

Date: Use the correct English spelling of the month.

Greeting/ salutation: Depends on how close are you with the person youre writing
to.

Ending: Your name/ signature is written below the suitable complimentary close

SPM English: Directed Writing (Formal Letter)

When writing a formal letter, you must pay attention to the format/layout of the letter.
Besides, you must also keep it short and to the point. Also, make sure your points or
ideas are well-presented. Most importantly, pay attention to the tone and language. A
formal letter must be polite. There is no need to be rude even if you are expressing
your unhappiness or dissatisfaction.
Remember, you should not use informal language or contractions in a letter of this
nature. These days there are several formats available for writing formal letters but we
will only look at the format which is used in Malaysian government departments and
taught in the Malaysian school system.

Guidelines for Writing a Formal Letter


1. Your address should appear on the left-hand corner.
2. A horizontal line across the page separates your address from the recipients address.
3. The recipients address should be below your address. The postcode and name of the town
should be underlined.
4. The date is written on the right along the same line as the last line of the recipients
address. The month should be spelt out (i.e. it should be in words, not numbers). It must be
written in full (do not use abbreviations such as Sept) and in capital letters.
5. Salutation/Greeting: If you know the name of the recipient, then do use his surname
(Dear Mr Tan) If you do not know the name of the person to whom you are writing, then use
Dear Sir or Madam.
6. The subject heading gives the reader an idea what the letter is about. Write the subject
heading directly below the salutation and it should be underlined.
7. The body of the letter refers to the contents of your letter. It should be divided into short
and clear paragraphs. All paragraphs should be numbered except for the first and last
paragraphs.
a. In the first paragraph, you should state the reason for writing (whether it is to inform, to
complain, to invite etc).
b. From the second paragraph onwards, you should include information that is deemed
necessary, depending on what you are writing about. The number of paragraphs depends on
what you are writing.
c. In the last paragraph, state what you expect from the recipient. This is usually in the form
of an action or response. It is a common practice to end a formal letter with phrases such as I
look forward to hearing from you or I hope prompt action will be taken to solve this problem.
A note of thanks is usually included. Remember to organise the information in a clear and
logical manner. Also, do not write lengthy paragraphs.

8. Ending: You can end the letter by writing Yours faithfully. In practice, we usually use
Yours sincerely, if we know the recipient but for exam purposes I would advise you to use
only Yours faithfully.
9. Signature: Do not forget to sign the letter and write your name below it in capital letters
with in brackets.
_________________________________
_________________________________
_________________________________
___

Senders name and address.

A horizontal line across the


___________________________________________________________________________
page separates your address
from the recipients address.
_________________________________
_________________________________
_________________________________
___
________________

Receivers name and


address.

Salutation.

_________________{Subject Header}_________________

________________

The date is written on the right along


the same line as the last line of the
recipients address.

____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
___
2.
________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
_
3.
________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
_

State the reason(s)


for writing the letter.

Include necessary
information. The
number of the
paragraphs depends
on what youre
writing.

4.
________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
_
5.
________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
_

Thank you.

A note of thanks is usually included.

State what you


expect from the
recipient. This is
usually in the form
of an action or
response

________________________
________________________
________________________

You can end the letter by writing Yours faithfully.


Signature.

Senders name.
SPM English: Directed Writing (Talk/ Speech)

Speeches are talks delivered in public on formal and informal occasions.


There are many types of speeches such as welcome speech, thank you speech and
farewell speech. Besides, there are also speeches on topics of interest and social
issues.
The PRESENT TENSE IS USUALLY USED when you write out a speech.

_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
________________________________________________

1. Greet your audience first.


2. Introduce yourself to the
audience- (your name, position
held, department attached to)
3. Introduce the topic.
4. Purpose of speech.

State your main point(s) and


elaborate it. You may
include facts, figures and
examples.

_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
________________________________________________

Conclusion. As the speaker,


state your hope for the issue.
Do not forget to thank the
audience.

SPM English: Directed Writing (Article)


Article is by far, the least complicated essay in terms of format as it has only 2 components:
Title
Writers name
1. Imagine what an article in a newspaper or magazine would look like in terms of
layout and you will roughly have an idea of how to position the title as well as the
by-line.
2. Typically, the title is written at the top of the page in the centre with capital letters
and underlined. For example:
The Title of This Article
The by-line can be written either right after the title of the article or at the end of the article
on the right. For example:
The Title of This Article
Written by Amber Chia
(essay)
or
The Title of This Article
(essay)
Written by
Amber Chia
3. Much like a speech, an article often revolves around a particular aspect of a topic,
be it the causes, effects, advantages etc. As such, an article should start off with a
general overview of the topic before going into the main aspect being discussed.
Again, newspaper and magazine articles are great examples of how we should go
about structuring the content of an article.
4. Another trick that we can learn from newspaper and magazine articles is the use
of interesting titles. In real life publication, this is used to capture readers
attention. In an exam, this can help to bring up ones overall language marks.
Better students should be given some practice in this area. (For weaker students, a
suitable title can often be found in the question itself.) For example,

You recently attended a leadership camp organised by your school. At the camp,
one of your friends was chosen as best camper. You have been asked to write an
article about your friend for your school magazine. (SPM 2008)

Standard title Best Camper


Interesting title Today Camper, Tomorrow Leader

While the aim is to be interesting,


titles should still be relevant to the
topic of the essay and not just
blindly dramatic.

SPM English: Directed Writing (Report)


General guidelines to remember when writing a report:
Address it to the person concerned.
Use the points given in a systematic manner use transition markers to enable your
audience to follow the flow of your thoughts.
Elaborate on your points with examples or illustrations.
Conclude your report in an appropriate manner.
Maintain a formal yet pleasant/ polite tone.
Simple Past Tense is used.