How to Write an Email: Two Lessons in Audience, Tone, and Format

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So often I find that students do not know how to write appropriate emails to either their teachers or future employers. I developed these two lessons to focus and correct that in my students.

This is a two-lesson product, seventeen pages in all. Part One is a two-page handout (PDF) and Part Two is an editable sixteen-slide PowerPoint presentation. Both parts are described more fully below. (As it is a PDF and PowerPoint product, I have zipped the file.)

PART ONE:
This two-page handout with accompanying exercise, offers students an opportunity to pause, reflect, and learn how to write an email with correct TONE and appropriate to its AUDIENCE. This lesson can be done either individually, in pairs, or in small groups. This lesson focuses upon tone and audience to show students how to write, while also providing discussion as to why writing an email to an employer should be constructed differently than an email to a best friend.

Students receive a one-page handout with an explanation of importance of thinking about their audience, thinking about what they want to say and then, most importantly, deciding HOW they are going to say it. A basic example of an inappropriate email is provided with eight identifiable errors that students will discover and then discuss (in pairs or as a class).

An Answer Key is provided in order to go over all the errors with students.

Students are then tasked to rewrite the email in an appropriate form (suggested/example response provided). Finally, students are asked to compose their two emails (of similar content), but two different people/audience.

PART TWO:
Part Two is a 16-slide (editable) PowerPoint which illustrates various poorly written emails that I have received as a teacher. As a class, students examine each email in turn and identify what is incorrect in each and how a teacher may respond when receiving a poorly written email. I provide my written responses to the original emails, as well. Students inevitably find this lesson quite humourous, as they love to point out and discuss other students' errors. (Of course, I have anonymized all email, as all are genuine emails I have received in the past.) The presentation ends with one well-written email exemplar, so that students can examine and discuss what goes into a professional email.

At the end of several examples, students are then tasked with going home and writing an email to their teacher on the computer for a specific topic provided in-class. A basic rubric is provided to ensure student success.

I think you will find these two assignments as valuable (and fun) to teach as I do. As we are all living in the "computer age," we must ensure, especially in the English classroom, that our students are able to know and use the conventions of professional email.
Total Pages
18
Answer Key
Included with Rubric
Teaching Duration
90 Minutes

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How to Write an Email: Two Lessons in Audience, Tone, and Format
How to Write an Email: Two Lessons in Audience, Tone, and Format
How to Write an Email: Two Lessons in Audience, Tone, and Format
How to Write an Email: Two Lessons in Audience, Tone, and Format
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