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A STUDY OF INNOVATIVE WAYS OF TEACHING FORMAL AND INFORMAL LETTER WRITING

Abstract
Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of emails and text messages, everyone has to
write letters at some point. Letters of complaint, job applications, thank you letters— the list goes on and on. .
Children are expected to learn how to write letters, notes and messages. This present paper examines the difficulty
faced by the students during discourse writing particularly Formal and Informal letter writing. Data was collected
through survey method by using the standardized questionnaire. A percentage analysis was done and the findings
were dictated. The result of the study revealed that the students are not aware with the features of formal and
informal letter writing and also they are getting a proper training for the discourse like Letter writing.Taining was
provided by the investigator with regard to the features of letter writing.
Key Words: Formal and Informal Letter Writing.
INTRODUCTION
Letter writing by itself is an art. It is also a social and business asset. The ability to write a good and perfect
letter can be as useful as the ability to talk well and the ability to maintain excellent inter-personal relationships.
Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, social and handwriting
skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters. In many schools this takes place
during Year 3, Term 3 and relates to QCA units T16, 20, 21 Reading and Writing Letters. Children are expected to
learn how to write letters, notes and messages. They have to be aware of different styles of writing, the use of formal
and informal letters, and to select style and vocabulary appropriate to the intended Letter is a written message from
one party to containing information.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The topic that the investigator has taken is the study of innovative ways to teach formal and informal letter
writing for school students. We, the students of Mount Carmel College of Teacher Education for Women of English
optional had conducted a training programme for students as part of community services. This project is based on
the topic the different innovative ways to teach a discourse like Letter writing.
NEED AND SIGNIFICANCE
The knowledge of English Language is inevitable for the survival in a fast growing community as that of India.
The need of being aware of the different discourses in English language comes to the forefront in this context. So it
is very important for the students to be aware of the need to write a formal and informal letter, as it comes to their
aid later in the future. It is significant that the students master the writing skill for improving their competency in
English language. This survey is relevant and significant as it help us to know whether the students are aware of the
various discourses in English like Formal and Informal Letter, profile, notice , poster, slogan diary etc.The survey
also help us to find out the common mistakes that the students confront and diagnose them and give appropriate
remedial measures to rectify it.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objectives of conducting the survey are as follow:
 To understand whether the students are aware about the various discourses particularly the discourse like letter
writing.
 To equip the students to write letters without any assistance.
 To enhance the communicative skills of the learners in English.
 To increase the language competency among the students
METHODOLOGY AND PROCEDURE
The tools used were a set of questionnaires prepared by the investigator. The questions were Yes or No
type. The questions consisted of two parts. The first set consisted of fifteen questions which were to check the
general outlook of students towards the subject English. In order to test their listening, speaking, reading and writing
skills. The second set comprised of questions regarding various discourses like Letter Writing (both formal and
informal), Profile Writing, poster designing, Diary Entry, Newspaper Report, Character Sketch, Composing E-mail,
Paragraph Writing, Notice, Slogan and Preparing Conversation which is different for each investigator. In this study
the second set of questions focuses only on the discourse Letter Writing (both formal and informal).
The samples used were the students of Mount Carmel School. Twenty students were selected at random
from the Children`s home at Mount Carmel School.
Letter Writing
Letter writing by itself is an art. It is also a social and business asset. The ability to write a good and perfect letter
can be as useful as the ability to talk well and the ability to maintain excellent inter-personal relationships. Letter
writing occurs in many forms and formats, including notes, letters, and postcards So these letters can divide as
Informal and Formal letters.
Types of Letter Writing
There are two types of Letter writing such as Formal and Informal letter.
1. Formal Letter
The term formal letter can be used to entail any written letter for a formal purpose, whether that be
a recommendation letter, an invitation letter, a complaint letter and so on. Any communication that is considered to
be official enough to be explicitly written or typed in a letter can be called a formal letter.
Features of a Formal letter

 Your address as the sender in the top left-hand corner;


 The receiver’s name and address (in the case of formal letters) on the left-hand side;
 The correct opening (Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Mr Smith, Dear Editor);
 A suitable and precisely worded opening sentence. Avoid opening with ‘I am writing to you…’;
 A number of well-developed paragraphs;
 A firm summing up of the purpose of the letter;
 Avoidance of shortened forms (e.g. I’m, don’t, won’t, etc.);
 Use of appropriate vocabulary;
 Suitable and appropriate signing off (e.g. ‘Yours faithfully’ – very formal with ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Yours sincerely’ – less
formal with ‘Dear Mr.Tom).

2. Informal Letter
An informal letter is a letter that is written in a personal fashion. You can write them to relatives or friends, but
also really to anyone with whom you have a non-professional relationship with, although this doesn't exclude
business partners or workers with whom you're friendly with either.

Features of Informal Letter


It has 6 parts: return address, date, greeting, body, closing, and signature line.

 The return address and date are not required when writing to very close friends

 It has a comma after the greeting

 It has the return address and date (if used) at the right margin

 It has paragraphs that are indented

 It uses language that is casual and would be used in conversation

ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION


Part I – General questions
Answer
Sl. No. Questions
Yes No

1. Do you like to learn the subject English? 100% 0


2. Do you speak English? 50% 50%

3. While speaking in English, do you have any difficulty in conveying your message? 90% 10%

4. Do you engage in any activities that would enhance your speaking skills? 65% 35%

5. Are you able to understand what is taught in class? 90% 10%

6. Do you know the basics of English grammar? 0% 100%


7. Do you find difficulty in learning grammar? 55% 45%

8. Do you know the different parts of speech in English? 0% 100%

9. Do you find difficulty in learning spelling? 15% 85%

10. Do you often create spelling mistakes? 85% 15%


11. Do you love reading books? 85% 15%

12. Do you read aloud at home? 35% 65%

13. Are you interested in learning new words? 100% 0%

14. Do you listen to English news channels? 10% 100%


15. Do you watch English movies? 45% 55%

16. Do you refer the dictionary for finding meaning for difficult words? 70% 30%
17. Do you engage in any activities that could enhance your writing skills? 55% 45%
18. Do you take down notes in your English class? 10% 90%

19. Are you interested in doing activities and exercises in the course book? 85% 15%
20. Do you participate in any literary competitions? 15% 85%

Part II – Questionnaire To Assess Writing Skill For Letter Writing

Sl. No. Questions Answer


Yes No

1. Are you aware about different types of letter? 100% 0%


2. Do you know the difference between a formal and informal letter? 100% 0%
3. Do you know the format of a formal letter? 65% 35%

4. Have you ever written a formal letter? 50% 50%


5. Are you interested in writing letters to your friends? 100% 0%
6. Are you aware that you should know the factual details like ‘From’, ‘To’ in a formal letter? 75% 25%
7. Do you know that you need to use a salutation for formal letter? 25% 75%
8. Do know that you should mention the subject of writing a formal letter? 25% 75%
9. Do you find difficult to write a formal letter? 85% 15%
10. Have you ever got a letter? 60% 40%
11. Do you know the importance of writing letters? 30% 70%
12. Are you aware that the letter should be brief and express ideas with clarity? 25% 75%

The study has shown that the students responded well toward the questionnaire. The first set consisted of
twenty questions which was to check the general outlook of students towards the subject English. In order to test
their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. 90% of the students like to learn the subject English, which
shows their positive attitude toward the subject. But only 50% tried to speak in English. And while speaking 80% of
them find difficulty in conveying their message and only 70% of the students engaged in any activities that would
enhance your speaking skills. Only 10 % of the students are thorough with the basics of grammar. 55% of students
were found difficulty in learning grammar. 70% of the students make spelling mistakes quite often. Only 55% of the
students engaged in activities that enhance their writing skills. But 70% of the students love reading books which
means they are trying to improve their knowledge. And almost everyone puts effort to improve their vocabulary.
Only 10% of the students participate in literary competitions.
The second set of questions focuses only on the discourse Letter Writing (both Formal and Informal
Letter). Almost all the students are familiar with the discourse like Letter Writing. But only 50% of the students are
interested in Letter Writing. 75% of the students are aware of the format of a Formal letter Writing. And only 35%
of students find it difficult to write a Letter on their own. But 80% of them have not attempted to write even an
informal letter to their friends. Only 30% know the significance of Letter Writing. But that the workshop conducted
by the investigators made them to understand the importance of Letter Writing (both Formal and Informal Letter).
The study shows that the survey was a great benefit for the students especially the discourse like letter writing which
is often asked in their exams.
FINDINGS
On the basis of the analysis of the project, the few findings are as follows:
 The students are not given proper training to foster their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
 There aren`t any activities implemented in their day to day classes to enhance their communicative skills.
 They are not aware with the format of Letter Writing.
 They find it difficult to write a discourse like Letter Writing.

SUGGESTIONS
Innovative teaching is a proactive approach to integrate new teaching strategies and methods into a
classroom. Innovative teachers implement new methods before they appeal to mainstream educators. In order to
improve the language of the students the teachers can use various innovative methods as follow:
 The teacher gives to each group of students a card which consists of phrases and words of both formal and informal
letter. Ask the students to work together and match the formal to the informal equivalents of the phrases or words. It
will help the students to understand the importance of formal and informal letter.
 The teacher can provide wonderful children's books such as ‘The Sincerely Yours: Writing Your Own Letters’,
‘Dear Mr. Blueberry’, etc.., that show letter writing in action. While reading these books, discuss the parts of a letter
in the groups. It will develop the skill of writing.
 In order to develop creative thinking, ask the students to write a letter to their fan. Thus they get the opportunity to
express their ideas in such a way.
Conclusion
Letters are one of the most used communication instruments in everyday life. Letters are used for both
personal and official communication. Letter writing is an activity, which demands care and caution. A letter with
spelling errors, wrong choice of words, grammatical mistakes and incomplete information can easily hurt the
reader’s feelings. High school students need to learn the importance of properly formatting and writing a letter. The
teacher has to use real world examples to teach letter writing to the students. Writing a formal letter is a crucial skill
that many students need to learn in school. One reason for this is that writing a formal letter is very different from
other forms of writing (such as descriptive writing or persuasive writing) and thus is an important aspect of
advanced writing skill that must be taught in an English class. Students may struggle with formal letters because
many students are not used to having to send physical letters (as opposed to emails), so they are unaccustomed to
some basics of writing a formal letter.

Reference

 http://communicationtheory.org/what-is-letter-writing/
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content/uploads/2013/11/writing-letters1.pd https://www.reference.com/education/informal-writing-
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 https://www.reference.com/education/innovative-teaching-278a1b0503ce263?qo=cdpArticles
 https://www.reference.com/education/effective-classroom-teaching-methods-
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 http://www.readingrockets.org/article/introduction-letter-writing