How to Master Email

I’ve finally decided to move forward with a series of lessons on how to write email. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to address for some time. I’ll start posting my video tutorials next week on YouTube.

Even a great set of video lessons won’t be enough for a student to master the art of emailing. The key is practice. That’s where a teacher or tutor fits into the picture.

  • We can offer small corrections and tips when students email us. Often at the end a reply to a student, I include suggested edits to the original message. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, and I encourage students to compare my suggestions to the original text: Study, reflect, and apply the knowledge moving forward.
  • We can create assignments that require students to write email in English. Here’s an idea. Pair students up for the coming weekend. Partners must email one photo of themselves doing an activity outside. In the message, they can explain where the photo was taken and what they were doing: Hi Yuko – This is me at the bus stop. I am waiting for my bus to go home. I just had lunch at Mel’s Diner. Do you know it? See you in class on Monday. – Ali

Students will also benefit from a set of guidelines on writing email.

  • Lead a class discussion and build a list of best practices together. I’ll be sharing a set of guidelines in my video series, but you can gain some ideas from a previous post on writing business email. Review the guidelines as needed. You can find creative ways to reinforce them. Ever since I learned about Zoobe and Tellagami at TESOL (see convention highlights from April 14 and April 29),  I’ve been having fun learning what all you can do with these video messaging apps. Imagine how much more engaging a review of guidelines would be if the tips were read by an animated avatar. The students themselves could volunteer to record.
  • Use activities that help students apply those guidelines.  Here’s a new activity that prompts students to adopt a more polite and/or professional tone: Leveling Up in Email_handout. Here’s another activity on levels of formality and consistency: Tone Up, Tone Down.

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