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EL 105 Situational Writing

Name : Class :

EL 105 Situational Writing

Learning Objective : Learn to write clearly for various situations

This module tackles the philosophy and formats of 4 types of situational writing, section 2 of “1127/01
Composition” in the English 'O' Level Examination. Using various resources, students will take a closer look
at Letter Writing, Report, Speech, Narrative Account and Others.

Index Content* Page

A Introduction to Situational Writing 2
1. Purpose
2. Types
3. Formats
4. Language
B Informal Letter Writing (Main) 5
C Formal Letter Writing (Main) 9
D Report Writing (Main) 13
E Speech Writing (Main) 16
F Writing Skills for Situational Writing 19
Topic Sentences
Varied Sentences
Transitional Words
G Brochure (Minor) 21
H Challenging Questions for Advanced Writers 22
I Marking Scheme 23

*compulsory curriculum

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EL 105 Situational Writing

A. Introduction to Situational Writing

1. Purpose : Why should we write differently for different situations?

Some of the purposes behind certain situations are

− complete a task
− build relationship
− account for facts
− persuade an audience
− relay information


 Why would you write a resume?

 Why would you write a fund raising letter?
 Why would you write a complaint letter?
 Why would you write a speech?

Situational Writing is designed to help you apply your writing skills in the real world.
In this module, you will learn to position your writing so as to convey a specific message to the receiver.

2. Types : What kind of writings should we be learning?

There are a few types of situational writing that we will look at : informal letter writing, formal letter writing,
speech, report, and information brochure.

Exercise 1
Match the types of situational writing to the blanks below.

1. __________________
Hong Ling had a bad day at work. She writes an email to her sister, Bing Bing, who is overseas.

2. __________________
Bing Bing works at Microsoft in Virginia, USA as the publicity officer. She writes to the editor of
the local newsletter to inform them of the latest gadget to be unveiled at the Microsoft
conference later in the year.

3. __________________
Michael, the editor of the local newspaper is interested to announce the latest gadget from
Microsoft. The product is called the Personal Phone and contains the following conveniences :
 3 mm thick and credit card size
 state of the art 5 way conference
 2 gigabytes worth of space for images
 crystal clear voice reception in any part of the world

4. __________________
Cheryl bought the Personal Phone immediately after reading about in the papers. She was so
excited about her new purchase that she did not notice the man with the long beard next to her.
In an instant, he snatched the new phone that Cheryl had saved up for and ran off with it. She
screamed for help but no one heard her. In the end she had to call the police.

5. __________________
The Singapore Police Force will be hosting the Long Service Award Night. All the top police
officers and politicians will be there to be part of the event. Patrick Soh, a long serving police
officer, will be receiving his award that night.The Singapore Police Force Chairperson, Hong
Ling, will introduce Patrick Soh to the stage.

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EL 105 Situational Writing

3. Formats : How are the kinds of writing presented?

Formats help the readers recognise the nature of the article. Are the formats still applicable in today's world?
How has technology affected the nature of situational writing presentation?

Exercise 2
Figure out which shape below belongs to which type of situational writing and guess what the various
rectangles represent.

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4. Language : How do we write effectively for different situations?

Because the context for each situational writing is different, the language will shaped according to the
receiver's need. For example, writing a letter to the president requires a formal tone as compared to writing
to your friend; writing to publicise an event for your school is different from reporting an accident for the
police. Why?

You should use CAPTOR to plan your writing :

1. Context (what is going on?)

2. Audience (who is it for?)
3. Purpose (Why?)
4. Type (what kind of writing would you write?)
5. Out of Bound (What should you only put in, what should you not say?)
6. Register (what kind of words would you choose?)

As each of these elements plays a vital role in the writing process, they should be incorporated in the
planning stages before the production of the written piece.

Exercise 3 Look at the situation below and plan your writing.

You have finished a week's course, A Volunteer Work with a Charity, during the holidays with your
class which your school kindly sponsored. This was how it went for your class : “We did exceedingly
well in our volunteer work with a local charity. Our class learnt how to empathise with the disadvantaged,
and learnt valuable lessons on helping others. The holiday was a timely season for charity work.”

As the class chairperson, write a letter to the principal, on behalf of the class, to thank him, to inform
him of how the course went, including any achievements that your class made. Write the formal letter
in an appreciative and polite tone. You should also include why the other option was not chosen. The
letter should be set out in an appropriate format. Your essay should be between 250-350 words.

Your Writing Plan

Context (what is going on?) I am involved in...

Audience (who is it for?) I am writing to...

Purpose (Why?) The purpose is to....

Type (what kind of writing would you write?) I will choose...

Out of Bound (What should you only put in, what should you not say?)
I will include....

I will not include...

Register (what kind of words would you choose?) I will be...

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An informal letter is the one of the most used type of writing in the world because it communicates
_____________________. The closer the receiver is to the writer, the more intimate or colloquial the
language. In the literary world, some famous writers or artists leave behind beautifully written letters that still
move us.

Example 1
Take a look at this one1. Why is this informal letter found in this particular situation?

January 23, 1935

My darling Clemmie,

In your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about my having enriched your life. I
cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there
can be accounts in love.... What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship
no phrases can convey.

Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered
together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible

Your loving husband

(Winston Churchill)

Use CAPTOR and analyse how the author of the above letter has planned it.

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Exercise 1
Informal Letters Language2
Which phrase or type of language would you find in a formal letter? Which phrase or type of language
would you find in an informal letter? Put the letter 'F' next to those phrases or language types that are used
in formal letters and 'I' next to those used in informal letters.

1 .phrasal verbs
2. I am very grateful for...
3. Why don't we...
4. I will not be able to attend the...
5. idioms and slang
6. contracted verb forms like we've, I'm, etc.
7. Give my regards to...
8. I look forward to hearing from you...
9. Let me know as soon as...
10. short sentences
11. Dear Tom,
12. Dear Ms Smithers,
13. Best wishes,
14. Yours faithfully,
15. I'm really sorry I...
16. Unfortunately, we will have to postpone...
17. We had a little bit of luck...
18. Our computers are used for a variety...
19. I use my pencil sharper for...
20. polite phrases
21. fewer passive verb forms

Mix and Match 1-9 with A-J.

1. That reminds me,... A) to finish the letter
1. Why don't we... B) to apologize
2. I'd better get going... C) to thank the person for writing
3. Thanks for your letter... D) to begin the letter
4. Please let me know... E) to change the subject
5. I'm really sorry... F) to ask a favor
6. Love, G) before signing the letter
7. Could you do something for me? H) to suggest or invite
8. Write soon... I) to ask for a reply
9. You'll be happy to know that... J) to ask for a response

Exercise 2
Choose one of the two subjects and write a letter to a friend or family member. Your letter should be
between 200 – 300 words.

1. 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.

2. 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.

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Exercise 3
This is a typical situational writing question asking for an informal letter. Read it and answer the questions.
The question is similar to 2004 Nov O level English Paper 1.

Your grandfather, who lives in the United States, has offered to pay for your December holiday in USA.
After comparing the various packages offered by the tour agencies, he identified two reasonably-priced
packages with fun-filled activities :

Ripley’s Mysterious Journey (a 20-minute ride from grandfather’s house)

largest haunted mansion in USA
thrilling roller coaster rides
“A Night on Elm Street” Horror Tour
190m high bungee jump
Frankenstein's Cafe
Various sidewalk cafes that offer international cuisine

Costner’s Waterworld (a 2-hour ride from grandfather’s house)

High-speed flume ride for the adventurous
635m long artificial rapid river – longest in USA
artificial wave pool for tsunami effect
world's bubbliest jacuzzi
skyrider for a spectacular aerial view
famous fast food restaurants such as Carl’s Junior and Macdonald’s

Write a letter to your grandfather, thanking him for his kind offer. Tell him which attraction you have
chosen and explain in details your reasons for doing so. Remember your grandfather wants you to enjoy
yourself and is concerned for your happiness. At the same time, he would like to spend some time with

Set your letter out correctly, in clear, accurate English, and use an affectionate tone which will show him
how much you appreciate his offer and his interest. Your letter should be between 250 – 350 words.

After CAPTOR, organise the content of your letter before you begin.
You can create fictitious aliases and add creative ideas even if you've never been there.
Use the table below to help. You should use ALL the points in the package you choose.

Point (E.g. Ripley's) Reason Creative Idea

largest haunted mansion in USA I enjoy horror films, so being in the The haunted mansion is known for its
haunted mansion will thrill me creative visual and sound effects, like
scenes from popular horror shows.

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Model Answer for the Informal Letter :

Block 33, #11-23

Alexandra Road
Singapore 570223

5th May 2009

Dear Grandpa,

It has been some time since I have last seen you and grandma. I do hope that both of you are in the best
of health and have been getting on fine. To update you, I'm an active member of my school’s Creative
Innovation Club and am interested to write a proposal on how to make Singapore a more exciting city in a
national youth project. Your sweet offer for my USA trip means that I get to choose Ripley's!

The largest haunted mansion in United States has amazing sound effects that I saw in popular horror
movies, especially in 'The Saw', which completely spooked me. This and the creepy but thrilling roller
coaster rides would help me glean some great ideas for my proposal. I imagine Singapore's young and old
would love the adrenaline rush, therefore the bungee jump and horror tour may be the first two stops in the
Tour that I try. (I've already bought a comfortable exercise top that would best fit the bungee jump
experience.) In addition, I am dying to taste the international culinary experience especially the famous
Mexican and Greek chowder in the Ripley street cafes. Speaking of food, I think Frankenstein's Cafe
actually serves the same thing so let's try that out instead and their famed Scientist Juice, made up pulp
bits that look like brain!

Ripley's definitely sounds more interesting than Costner’s Waterworld because it is similar to the theme
park, “Wild Wild Wet” in Singapore. Carl’s Junior and Macdonald’s are also common here so I'll give
Waterworld a miss. Besides, a two hour ride means I have less time for you two. No use writing a similar
project that others have already come up with – thank God you've offered Ripley's!

I really can’t wait for December to come and I would like to thank you again for this kind offer. I am really
touched and I promise to make full use of it so that your money will not be wasted. Till then, Grandpa and
Grandma, God bless. (338 words)

Your Little Monster

Other useful links :


You may also google “informal letters” to find sites that are helpful.

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Formal letter writing is situated about a _____________ to or from a person who you are not familiar with.
This is compounded by the fact that the relationship between the two are _________________ , or concerns
_________________ , or ________________.

Example 1
Here is an example of a formal letter, The Bixby Letter3 by one the most famous US Presidents, Abraham
Lincoln, written very long ago. Read it and compare against the informal letter writing that you have learnt.

Dear Madam,—I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant4 General
of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief
of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in
the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the
cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a
sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

Use CAPTOR and analyse how the writer has planned the formal letter above.

3The Bixby letter is famous for its perfect use of the English language. Along with the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, it is
one of Lincoln’s most revered literary legacies. The letter was published in the Boston Transcript on November 25, 1864, the same day
Mrs. Bixby received it. , viewed on 3 rd June 2009
4 an officer who acts as military assistant to a more senior officer

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Exercise 1
Highlight or underline the correct answers to the questions below.

For a formal letter, who are you writing to?

1. Close Friends
2. Finance Director
3. Principal
4. Someone that you have never met before
5. Entire student body / cohort
6. Friend whom you have not met for 10 years
7. Grandparents
8. Boss
9. Mother / Father
10. Newspaper Editor
11. Manager of a shampoo company
12. CEO

What do I want to say?

1. Complain about the bad service you have received

2. Thank you letter
3. To praise someone for what he has done
4. To request for the use of a function room in a condominium
5. To confirm all flight arrangement with the travel agency
6. To give feedback to the Police Force
7. Letter of application
8. Letter of Invitation to your new house
9. To report an accident as a witness
10. To give instructions

What is the purpose of my letter?

1. Complain about the bad service you have received

2. Thank you letter
3. To praise someone for what he has done
4. To request for the use of a function room in a condominium
5. To confirm all flight arrangement with the travel agency
6. To make a police report
7. Letter of application
8. Letter of invitation to your new house
9. To give a farewell speech
10. To make suggestions
Exercise 2
Present an Open House programme to the class.

Have each preson from each group contribute an item to put on the table. This item can be anything.
Use the materials on the table to brainstorm on a publicity programme for a school Open House. You can
be as imaginative as you like but the programme should last at least 2 hours for rhe potential students and
their parents. The programme must take place in the school ground at a suitable time.

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Exercise 3
Some Open House suggestions have been added by other students. You will write a letter to the principal,
Mr Kenny, on the best suggestion for the Open House.

Memory Lane Video

We will use old footage or photographs of the school to show its development and progress. Interviews with
teachers and past students will pique newcomers' interest and help them know what we have built.

School Open House Party

We should invite guests to a party where we can mingle and chat as guides. Potential students will enjoy
the way we interact and the day will as a small party to remember the day.

Forum with Creative Handouts

Parents and potential students will surely need to ask questions. A 2 hour forum with the teachers and
present students fielding questions will definitely be helpful. We will turn the lecture studio into a funky place
with interesting posters, and give out creative souvenirs to help them remember their time here.

Your letter will be between 250-350 words, written in a respectful tone. You will need to email your work to
your English teacher.

Exercise 4
This is a typical situational writing question asking for a formal letter. Read it and answer the questions. The
question is the 2006 Nov O level English Paper 1.

The change from primary to secondary school is a big step in a student’s life. The principal of your school
wants to help the primary school students who will be joining your secondary school to settle down quickly
and happily. You are the Chairperson of a committee of students which has been asked to suggest ways of
giving information about your school to primary school students and their parents. You have been asked to
choose the best idea and report its details to Principal. The committee meeting produced four ideas:

Chee Keong’s idea:

“We could design posters and produce booklets of pictures and information, in several languages, that the
primary school students could take home with home to show their parents. Unfortunately, we would not
meet the students themselves.”

Ahmad’s idea:
“Some of our students could produce a short video that could be shown to the primary school students and
their parents, so that they could see what the school has to offer. It would be expensive though.”

“Sushila’s idea:
“A group of us should go to the primary school one afternoon and talk to the students there about our
school. We would be able to answer their questions too. Of course, we and the children would miss our
normal lessons for that afternoon.”

Lila’s idea:
“We should hold an Open House here, when we could show the primary school students and their parents
round the school and explain what we do here. It would disrupt the work of the whole school on that day
though, and many parents would be unable to attend in the daytime.”

Write a letter for the principal, giving the reasons for your choice. Explain in detail why you think this
will be the most successful way to help the primary school students to settle happily in your school. Include
in your letter your suggestions on how the project can be organised.

Your letter should be between 250 – 350 words.

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Example of a Model Answer for the Formal Letter :

Block 33, #11-23

Alexandra Road
Singapore 570223

5th May 2009

Mr Eric Tan
The Principal
City College
2985 Jalan Bukit Merah
Singapore 289556

Dear Mr Tan,

Open House

Thank you for the opportunity to suggest ways to promote our school. We are appreciative that the students’
view matters to the school. Of all the ideas produced during the committee meeting, I feel that Lili’s
suggestion to host an Open House is most feasible.

We propose having the Open House on a Saturday so that normal lessons are not disrupted. The
attendance will be higher because most parents are available and not working. With this problem out of our
way, we can line up a string of activities to pique the interests of both parents and potential students.

Here is our suggested programme. At 9am sharp, may I suggest that you kick-start the Open House by
ringing the school bell? Parents and potentials students will then flock to the orientation maze lined with
brightly-coloured booths attentively done by CCA members of our excellent sports, cooking, dance and
music teams. In the laboratory, science students will display their latest household “green” gadgets from the
recent National Environmental Day. Award winning Class 3B should showcase their “Wonder Mop” that can
clean every corner in the house and “Robot Helper” that can obey simple commands. It will definitely be an

Towards the end of the maze, our prefects cum tour guides will lead the guests to our newly-renovated
sports hall and air-conditioned classrooms. Lastly, we could invite the school band to display their technical
abilities in our new music room. The guests would surely be impressed by their coordination and the room's
crystal clear sound system! Lastly, in a final bid to secure as many potential registration as possible, you
may like to deliver a 20-minute speech, touching on the importance of inculcating the right values and
beliefs in youths.

We believe that the Open House will make more of an impact than simply leaflets, a short video or a
presentation in other schools, and more affordable on the school budget. I hope you will seriously consider
the above suggestions. Our student committee look forward to your reply. Thank you. (344 words)

Yours Sincerely,
Ra Too
Chairperson of Students’ Committee

Useful Links :


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A report is concerned with ______________ . Everything that you ______, hear, ________ , smell, touch
and can be verified as real and concrete goes into a report. A report is usually done for purposes of
documentation and accountability. Most reports are found in the newspapers of events that have occurred or
events that need to be related to government or official bodies.

A report is not interested in your own moral judgment nor a perceived imagery e.g. “The snow melted into a
river of wispy water”. A simple “the snow melted on the ground” is sufficient. Your writing should reflect a
crisp objectivity that is factual e.g. “The car veered swiftly into the left” because “swiftly” describes accurately
the speed.

Another purpose is to discuss and analyse ideas and thoughts on any problems or improvements to be made and to
inform the audience... Types of reports include: scientific reports, recommendation reports, white papers, annual
reports, auditor's reports, workplace reports, census reports, trip reports, progress reports, investigative reports,
budget reports, policy reports, demographic reports, credit reports, appraisal reports, inspection reports, military
reports, bound reports, etc.

Use CAPTOR and analyse what is required of a report.

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Exercise 1
Each group will send 2 representatives to look into a box of 20 items for 1 minute. They will have 3 minutes
to jot down the twenty items. Bonus points will be given for interesting descriptions of items. The group will
then send a 3rd representative to present the findings. What constitutes interesting details to

Exercise 2
Watch a short clip from the youtube video and describe what just happened. You have 3 minutes to write
down as many points as possible. The teacher will get three people to present what they have seen. What
constitute important details for a report?

Exercise 3
This is a typical situational writing question asking for a report. Read it and answer the questions. This
paper is similar to 2008 & 2006 O level English Paper 1.

The Superintendent wants you to look into a complaint case made by a mother of two children who go to
St Mary's School. It regards South Street, a dangerous stretch of road near where she lives. You are the
police inspector of that precinct. You have been asked to conduct an investigation, making observations
about the road condition in that area. The Traffic Police Department you are in specialises in upholding
road safety.

Below are the points highlighted by the mother:

heavy traffic during morning peak hours which coincide with the school children's arrival time
drivers exceed stipulated speed limit
narrow pavement for pedestrians
poor visibility round the bend

Write a report for your Superintendent, addressing each of the concerns highlighted by the mother.
Explain in detail how these problems are hazardous to the residents, especially the school children.
Include in your report your suggestions on how to improve the traffic condition and improve safety.
Your report should be between 250 – 350 words.

After CAPTOR, organise the content of your letter before you begin.
Use the table below to help. You should use ALL the points.

Point Reason Creative Idea

Heavy traffic Many cars on the road to the offices Have officers in the morning to watch
nearby, jam the road near the junction out for school crossings ; propose to
where children cross to get to school the Land Transport Authority
alternative viaducts for cars

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Model Answer for the Report :

To: The Superintendent

From: Lee Yew Tuck

Date: 5th May 2009

South Street Traffic Condition

The recent investigation by the department has concluded that South Street is a danger zone to school
children at St Mary's especially in the morning peak hours. Solutions to improve road safety are underway
with more officers on standby and a proposal to Land Transport Authority (LTA) for a new viaduct.

Traffic is most dense between 7am to 8am when a high number of school children is crossing the road.
The feedback to the department is the lack of protection along the pedestrian sidewalk and the junction.
Within the last seven days, a girl was almost knocked down by a car but pulled to safety by one of our
officers. An order has been issued for two officers to aid traffic during peak hours, and change the traffic
light timing. To improve the situation, we should have a zebra crossing near the main gate of St Mary’s.
Railings can be erected along the pavements to enhance protection. Pavements which are too narrow
need to be widened for the safety of pedestrians. A new viaduct along the road will be a viable alternative
for the traffic jam.

The speed limit along the South Street is a maximum of 30 kilometres per hour but the majority of drivers
flout this rule openly at about 60 kilometres per hour in both directions. We have booked a number of
drivers during the investigation. Hidden cameras need to be installed to catch errant drivers. We suggest
constructing two humps to slow down cars. Poor visibility is evident around the bend just before the
junction. Drivers would benefit from a road mirror to see ahead.

The changes proposed above will improve the traffic and safety conditions of South Street in phases. As
school kids’ safety is always paramount, the implementation should be completed within a year while our
additional officers will offer extra security around the school zone immediately. (312 words)

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Speech is a tool used to _______________ audiences. Famous speeches in history rank as some of the
most inspiring quotes of all times. Remember Churchill in WWII, Martin Luther King Jr in “I have a dream”?
Their great speeches endure to this day to motivate listeners to act or follow ideals. Although technology is
widely used and is most effective to send out (email) messages to the masses, speeches retain their niche
even online – just see the significance of watching the election speeches by Obama on youtube.

Example 1
Let's have a look at Martin Luther King Jr's “I Have A Dream”5

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are
those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as
long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as
long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and
the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto
to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed
of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi
cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not
satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have
come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you
battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the
veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to
Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can
and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a
dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold
these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

5 , viewed on 3 rd June 2009. See the speech in real time at , viewed on 3 rd June 2009

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Use CAPTOR and analyse what is required of a speech.

Exercise 1
The teacher will pick 2 pairs to present each of the topic below. These pairs play the role of a student
committee who will persuade the class for an activity during the holidays. The class may also choose two
more people to be part of the ground to speak up during the dialogue session. The class has to decide, at
the end of 10 -15 minutes, the activity that will benefit the class best during the holidays.

A Business Course
A two-day workshop, the business course will provide learning for basic money management, business
ideas and a look into how systems are run in the world today that affects everyday trade. Students will also
get a hands on project to develop a group business idea.

A First Aid Course

Held overnight at a retreat, the first aid course will teach students how to give aid in life threatening
situations, and provide tips on how to treat ailments and wounds. The students will also go through a life
simulation of a dangerous situation and provide first aid on the spot for practice.

Discussion :
What was helpful in deciding the vote?
What is important in a speech?
Who was most persuasive?
Who had logical content?

Model Answer for the Speech :

Personal Finance Management Course

Fellow classmates,

With regards to your choices for the December vacation courses, I would strongly recommend that you join
the Personal Finance Management Course. As the upcoming batch of people to join the working sector, I
find it most vital to equip ourselves with a certain level of management skills in our finances to ensure that
we do not end up having to slog in our later years because we did not plan our finances well.

While the other courses may seem extremely meaningful, and to a certain extent, interesting, they do not
produce an essential skill as compared with financial management when we enter the working sector. It is
clearly more practical to understand the business world, which most of us would be entering, and have a
feel of of the fields we will be approaching.

On top of learning how to manage our finances, I am sure that most of us would acquire a certain level of
organisiation skills that have proven to be valuable assets in life. Far more than good looks and charm.
Such a course would also give us a headstart in our finances by guiding us to build our wealth much earlier
before most others. Somehow, it also enables us to upgrade ourselves as we learn to penetrate markets,
make deals, and even become “little bosses”.

Therefore, I sincerely invite all who find sense in my words to make the right choice, and not waste away
our vacation time learning nothing of great value to our emergence as adults. Thank you. (257 words)

Jonathan Soh, 2007

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Exercise 2
This is a typical situational writing question asking for a speech. Read it and answer the questions. This
paper is similar to the 2005 O level English Paper 1.

The principal of your school has agreed to hold a week’s course in the December vacation for senior
students like yourself. You will be given instructions on a useful course that is not already covered in the
school curriculum. The subject will be chosen by you and your classmates. You and your classmates now
have to decide on a course for your class, based in the following suggestions received:

A Humanitarian Programme
I’d like to suggest that we join a Humanitarian Programme in a neighbouring country. Singapore teenagers
lead a sheltered and affluent life. Learning to help others in times of need will help us see life outside of our
comfort zone and teach us important lessons.

A Marathon Challenge
Why don't we take the chance to keep fit? We know the importance of staying healthy. Doing a marathon as
a class can build team work, and perserverance. We will have a good memory of this challenge long after
we leave the school. If we win, we can donate the prize money to the school or a charity.

Tuition for Underprivileged Children

Can we use our skills and learning to help underprivileged children in Singapore? Children in
disadvantaged backgrounds often need help in their academia but do not have the money for tuition. We
can offer our time and help develop their knowledge. Who knows? We may even forge a lasting friendship.

Write a speech in which you explain to your classmates which of the three courses you prefer and
your reasons for your choice. Try to persuade them to support you and convince them that your choice is
the course that should be provided.
Exercise 3 : Introducing A Guest Speaker

You are advised to write between 250 and 300 words for this section. You should read the information
carefully and plan your answer before beginning to write.

Your school has invited someone to speak during a school event to award outstanding student leaders, and
you have been asked to give a speech introducing the guest speaker. Write the speech, with the following
points in mind :

Who the person is

What his/her achievements are
What topic he/she will be talking about
Why he/she has the credentials for the talking

You are to address the speech to a school of students, so be sure not to be overly formal. You may begin
as follows : Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very pleased to introduce a very special guest...

Useful Links

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EL 105 Situational Writing

F. Writing Skills for Situational Writing:

1. Topic Sentences

The topic sentences are the __________ ideas for each paragraph. They help the reader to identify what is
going on.

2. Varied Sentences

We want to vary our sentences in order to:

 Re-express ideas differently

 Emphasise certain ideas
 Make our writing interesting
 Make appropriate tones for our situations

You can use :

• active versus passive voice

• conjunctions
• different types of punctuations

3. Transitional Words
Using transitional words and phrases helps papers read more smoothly. They provide logical organization
and understandability and improve the connections and transitions between thoughts. A coherent paper
allows the reader to flow from the first supporting point to the last. Transitions indicate relations, whether
within a sentence, paragraph, or paper. This list illustrates "relationships" between ideas, followed by words
and phrases that can connect them.

To indicate more information: Addition:
Besides, Furthermore, In addition, Indeed, In fact, also, again, as well as, besides, coupled with,
Moreover, Second...Third..., etc. furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly

To indicate an example: Consequence:

For example, For instance, In particular, Particularly, accordingly, as a result, consequently, for this
Specifically, To demonstrate, To illustrate reason, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, so then,
subsequently, therefore, thus, thereupon, wherefore
To indicate a cause or reason:
As, Because, Because of, Due to, For, For the Generalizing:
reason that, Since as a rule, as usual, for the most part, generally,
generally speaking, ordinarily, usually
To indicate a result or an effect:
Accordingly, Finally, Consequently, Hence, So, Exemplifying:
Therefore, Thus chiefly, especially, for instance, in particular,
markedly, namely, particularly, including, specifically,
To indicate a purpose or reason why: such as
For fear that, In the hope that, In order to, So, So
that, With this in mind Illustration:
for example, for instance, for one thing, as an
To compare or contrast: illustration, illustrated with, as an example, in this
Although, However, In comparison, In contrast, case

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7 , viewed on 2 nd June 2009

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EL 105 Situational Writing

Likewise, Nevertheless, On the other hand, Similarly,

Whereas, Yet Similarity:
comparatively, coupled with, correspondingly,
To indicate a particular time frame or a shift from identically, likewise, similar, moreover, together with
one time period to another:
After, Before, Currently, During, Eventually, Finally, Exception:
First, Second..., Formerly, Immediately, Initially, aside from, barring, besides, except, excepting,
Lastly, Later, Meanwhile, Next, Previously, excluding, exclusive of, other than, outside of, save
Simultaneously, Soon, Subsequently
To summarize: in essence, in other words, namely, that is, that is to
Briefly, In brief, Overall, Summing up, To put it briefly, say, in short, in brief, to put it differently
To sum up, To summarize
Contrast and Comparison:
To conclude: contrast, by the same token, conversely, instead,
Given these facts, Hence, In conclusion, So, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, on the
Therefore, Thus, To conclude contrary, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still,
nevertheless, in contrast
by the way, incidentally Sequence:
at first, first of all, to begin with, in the first place, at
Direction: the same time, for now, for the time being, the next
here, there, over there, beyond, nearly, opposite, step, in time, in turn, later on, meanwhile, next, then,
under, above, to the left, to the right, in the distance soon, the meantime, later, while, earlier,
simultaneously, afterward, in conclusion, with this in
Emphasis mind
above all, chiefly, with attention to, especially,
particularly, singularly
Exercise 4

You are a lawyer who recently took up a case, pro bono to defend a 15-year old boy, a first-time offender.
In your closing statement, you need to defend the child and plead for leniency. Write your closing
statement in about 120 words. Below is some background information about the child offender. Use at
least 10 transition words to make a cogent argument.

The case:
− sold contraband cigarettes
− single-parent family
− mother is the sole breadwinner, works late nights
− mixed with bad company

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EL 105 Situational Writing


Singapore is famed for being a tourist attraction. Create an information brochure between 250 -350 words to
introduce first time visitors to Singapore. You are to include at least 1 natural and 1 man made site in your
information brochure, and explain why they should not miss it.

Attractions in Singapore8

Singapore has many attractions that attract tourists from around the globe.

MacRitchie Forest Trails

If you’re into nature then the MacRitchie Forest Trails will be sure to tickle your fancy. Whip out your camera
for a shot with occasional monkeys that roam the paths. Look closely at the wide tipped ferns or tropical
flowers not found anywhere else in the world. Wildlife like the rare water dragonfly and Southeast monitor
lizard are exclusively found in sunny Singapore. Interpretative signboards along the boardwalks allow for a
self-guided tour along the fringes of the MacRitchie forest.

Fitness lovers are spoilt for choice too. Boardwalks skirt the edge of the scenic MacRitchie Reservoir and
throughout the forest ranging in distances from 3 km to 11 km, catering to every fitness level. Try the
shoulder bars that tone your muscles next to a breathing jungle with the most magical cicada notes in the
evening, or greet friendly joggers who pass your way as you sweat it out on the perimeters of the reservoir.

Sentosa Island
Sentosa has three famous beaches : Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach, and Tanjong Beach. These beaches are
artificial, reclaimed using sand bought from Indonesia and Malaysia. These fantastic beaches plus beach
bars, water parks and shows provide all you could want from a tropical island, and a restful stop away from
the busy city.

Do spend a night at Sentosa at any of the top class hotels near the beach. Shangri La offers one of the best
rooms at affordable rates for families or couples. With a private pool next to the lapping waves, children can
swim in the baby pool while adults may prefer sea sports.

Sentosa Island and MacRitchie Forest Trails treat visitors to the best of both nature and man made
environments in the heart of South East Asia. You will surely not regret your short stay in the sunny island!
(334 words)

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June 2009. Edited by Clara Yeo and Dawn Fung

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EL 105 Situational Writing


1. Formal Letter : Write to the Straits Times a short letter of 250-350 words, on how Singapore can be
a more gracious society. Gracious means courteous and appreciative.

2. Informal Letter : Write to a letter to a teacher (of your choice) in school. The letter should be 250-
350 words, and the content should include a memorable weekend and a lesson you learnt from
him/her because of it. Mail the letter to : [your teacher], City College, 2985 Jalan Bukit Merah,
Singapore 159457. Notify your English teacher after you have mailed the letter.

3. Report : Write a report to your english teacher of about 250 – 350 words on an incident in class, or
the way students behave when the teacher is not around. (This could be rather comical in nature but
do keep the logic and seriousness going.)

4. Speech : Present a cause of your choice on paper between 250 – 350 words. You should film
yourself speaking it a rather persuasive manner. Send a copy of the film (10 minutes maximum) and
the hand written speech to your English teacher.

5. Narrative : Reflect on a lesson that a teacher taught in class – this can be any teacher on any
subject. Within 250 – 350 words, write about how the lesson impacted you and taught you something
valuable. The finished piece should be emailed to both that teacher and your English teacher.

6. Information Brochure : City College would like to send out a brochure to its alumni. Create a
brochure of 250 – 300 words that talk about the school in your final year here, and what the alumni
would find different or nostalgic if they visited.

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