This is a lesson I have been doing with my advanced and proficiency classes for a couple of years, but I have only just got round to writing up for the blog.
It works on both receptive and productive writing skills, helping learners to analyse the meaning of the text, and to identify communicative purpose – it also uses the text deconstruction technique I talk about in Reason to Read. In terms of productive skills, it focuses on correcting the structural deficiencies in the original email (and linguistic errors), thereby reviewing these elements with the learners, and also focuses learners on communicative purpose – and what they are really trying to achieve. This is something I think it is often hard to communicate to learners who sometimes seem to take more of a product approach to their thinking, and which in many coursebook writing tasks is left by the wayside.
I usually do most of the lesson in about 75 minutes, but on occasion the final write up needs to be finished up at home.
Here it is – enjoy!
If you do use it, please let me know in the comments how it went – and if there’s anything you’d do differently!
Addendum: It occurred to me just after posting this that if you wanted to drop the final re-writing stage from the lesson and hand that whole stage off as a homework task, or if you needed something extra to fill the time – then it might be worth getting students to look up the address given in the original email on Google Maps / Google Earth (or equivalent) and ask them to think about the following questions:
Why was that address chosen? Do you think the writer has some connection to that address? If the writer lives around there, what do you think their life is like? Does it change your thoughts on why they sent the email or who they are?