Letters may seem outdated in this digital age, but the skills needed to produce one are still considered important. Naturally, many international language tests evaluate the test taker’s ability to produce pieces of communication, such as letters, memos or emails.
In the IELTS General Training format, the writing module has two tasks. In the first one, candidates are given a situation and asked to write a letter. Depending on the situation, they have to choose from one of three kinds of tone – friendly, semi-formal, or formal.
|Friendly||Write a letter to a friend inviting him/her to a party you are having next month.|
|Semi-formal||Write a letter to your manager requesting him/her for one week’s leave.|
|Formal||Write a letter to the general manager of a restaurant complaining about the poor service you received during your visit there.|
So, what exactly is tone? Simply put, it is the style of writing that is most suitable for a given situation.
Identifying the appropriate tone for a letter can be tricky at times. In fact, it is not uncommon in IELTS for test takers to get the tone horribly wrong. As a result, the letter sounds rude or inappropriate, thereby affecting their overall writing score.
So, how can you identify the appropriate tone? Well, here’s one key factor to consider:
Is the person you are writing to (i.e. the recipient) someone you know? What sort of relationship do you share with them ‒ formal or friendly?
If the recipient is unknown, or if they are much senior to you (in age or rank), the letter needs to have a respectful tone (semi-formal to formal). On the other hand, if it’s a friend you’re writing to, the letter will certainly be chatty, looking more like a conversation.
More about tone in the next part!
|Meaning||:||no longer useful or fashionable|
|Example||:||The computer systems in Kevin’s company are really outdated.|
|Meaning||:||difficult to deal with|
|Example||:||Aged people sometimes find smart phones tricky to operate.|
|Meaning||:||in a bad way|
|Example||:||He got injured when a karate move went horribly wrong.|
|Meaning||:||describes writing style that is friendly|
|Example||:||Judith sent me a bright, chatty letter about her life in Greece.|