Letter Writing : Letters are the simplest form of free written compositions. Letters remain hugely important in our everyday lives. People still feel the need to have something confirmed in writing and a letter can add the all important persons touch. Letter writing is an art which must be cultivated for its own sake. I well-written letter is always a pleasure to read. Letters are appealing for another reason as well-they have intimate connections with life situations.
Because letters are written to be read, make your letters as clear and simple as possible. Avoid using long, convoluted and high-sounding word prefer short mono-syllabic words as far as possible. Avoid using jargon or vague or slang words which may confuse the reader. Make you letter short never give unnecessary details in your letter. Brevity, it is said, is the soul of wit. Use shorter sentences rather than longer in you letter. You are not supposed to waste the precious time of your reader. In fact, long letters are boring and turn off readers. Try to make your letter come alive-try to address the letter directly to the reader.
You must show proper respect towards the person to whom you are writing a letter even though it might be a letter of complaint. Avoid using the passive constructions in your letters. For example write, ‘We sent you that letter by mistake’, rather than the more pompous, ‘Our letter was sent in error’. Do not let your feelings get the better of you. Don’t try to be too clever. Be clear and to the point, but do not be too blunt Visualize the reader ahead of you and imagine yourself talking with him through your letter. Anyone would like to read a pleasant letter when it appears specially written for him. Students must cultivate the habit of re-reading the letters after they have written them. This would eliminate many inadvertent mistakes that might have crept in.
In all sorts of letters certain conventionally accepted forms should be observed. The consciousness that form of a letter is important should be drilled in students from the very beginning. The way of writing the address, the respectful reference to the addressee and the description in the end constitute j the bare framework of the letter. In addition to this, the beginning and the end of the letter are very important. These can be fixed in the habits of the students by frequent repetition. Ordinarily through constant practice, forms should be established in the expression techniques connected with letters. If necessary, a chart depicting them should be placed in the classroom
for ready reference of the students. Similarly the formal beginnings and endings should be developed and consolidated in the language habits of learners. Of course they are to be fixed but not without understanding. As they progress in their linguistic abilities students may be encouraged to use better forms, but those who are on the margin should be equipped with the minimum of the material to help them go ahead with the skill of writing letters.
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In letters, personal as well as business the following abbreviations are commonly used:
- asap as soon as possible
- ce-carbon copy (when you send a copy of a letter to more than one person, you use this abbreviation to let them know)
- enc. -enclosure (when you include other papers with your letter)
- pp per procurationem (A Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else’s behalf, if they are not there to sign it themselves, etc)
- ps-postscript (when you want to add something after you’ve finished and signed it)
- pto (informal) = please turn over (to make sure that the other person knows the letter continues on the other side of the page)
- RSVP = please reply
Personal letters are different from business letters. For both types of letters different format is used. The teacher would do well to drill these formats in his students. Personal letter is typically less formal than that of a business letter. Usually the first paragraph of the body will consist of an introduction which will give the recipient an idea about you’re writing to them with a short summary of the main topic of your letter. If you don’t know the person you are writing to, you may want to introduce yourself in this introductory paragraph as well.
The next few paragraphs will usually consist of the message you want to get across along with any details you may want to convey. The last paragraph will usually be the conclusion where you wrap everything up. You can sum up your main idea in this paragraph, thank the recipient for their time, wish the recipient well, and/or ask any questions. Since friendly letters are less formal, you can feel free to write it however you like, but the above format is fairly common. In personal letters avoid using such sentences as the following :
1. I am happy here and hope you will be happy there.
2. Father is asking me to write why you do not write letters regularly.
3. I am very here and so are father, mother and sister.
4. I am younger and so pardon my mistakes.
5. Be happy there.
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The task of the teacher is to eliminate improper and wrong patters and inculcate in students the right habits of addressing letters. This would require good models of letters with specific constructions properly underlined.
A business letter, on the other hand, is a formal way of communicating between two or more parties. There are many different uses and types of business letters. Business letters can be informational, persuasive, motivational, or promotional. Business letters should be preferably typed and printed out on standard white paper. The most important element of writing a good business letter is your ability to identify and write to your audience. If you are addressing your letter to the department of human resources, avoid using highly technical terms that only engineers would understand, even in your letter is addressed to an engineering company, chances are that the personnel in human resources do not have an engineering background.
The next element is that you make sure your present your objective in a clean forthright and concise manner. You should not be vague about your objective most people will not have the patience to sit there and guess at the meaning of your letter or the time to read a long-winded letter, just get to the point without going into unnecessary details. Another important element to remember is to remain professional. Even if you are writing a complaint letter, remain polite and courteous, simply state the problems along with any other relevant information and be sure to avoid threats and slander.
Through graded steps the skill of writing letters in English can be developed. Ordinarily life situations should be exploited for this purpose. It requires an humble beginning in the form of a note or a request and gradually it can be developed into the full-fledged art of letter-writing.