How To Write an Informal IELTS Letter
This post will show you how to write an informal IELTS letter to a friend in task 1 of the General Training module. If you are doing the Academic module, please go to our task 1 academic page for lots of resources.
In task 1 of the General Training module you will be asked to write a letter to someone. This could be a formal, semi-formal or informal letter.
This post will:
- help you tell the difference between formal and informal
- help you plan your letter and give you an appropriate format to follow
- give you lots of useful language
- provide you with a checklist for all informal IELTS letters
- show you a band 9 sample answer
Is it an informal letter?
The only time you will be writing an informal letter is if the instructions tell you to write to ‘a friend’. In all other situations you will either write a formal letter or a semi-formal letter.
Look at the four examples below and pick the one which is informal.
The first and third letters are to someone we don’t know and they are therefore formal.
In the second letter you are writing to your manager. Many people are friends with their managers, but please disregard this when writing IELTS letters. In this case ‘manager’ is the same as colleague or co-worker and the letter will therefore be semi-formal.
The last letter specifically mentions ‘friend’ and we can therefore use an informal tone.
You could say that IELTS are trying to trick you with this letter because they want you to write about a work related topic, but don’t allow them to trick you. When it says ‘write a letter to a friend’, make sure you always use informal language.
Informal Letter Format
The format of every General Training IELTS question is the same. They will always tell you why you are writing the letter (the context), tell you who to write to (in this case, a friend) and give you three bullet points that you have to cover.
This is great for us because we can use a standard structure when planning and writing our lessons.
Planning an Informal IELTS Letter
It might seem like a waste of valuable time, but planning is an essential part of the IELTS writing paper. Most people don’t plan and they normally get lost in the middle of their writing and waste lots of time trying to make their writing clear and organised. Remember that your letter must be well organised and easy to read and a plan will really help you with this and actually save you time.
Below is the structure I advise all of my General Training IELTS students to follow when doing task 1.
Dear [First name only of friend]
Paragraph 1- Say why you are writing to them (I’m just writing to let you know that….)
Paragraph 2- Bullet point 1 and supporting details
Paragraph 3- Bullet point 2 and supporting details
Paragraph 4- Bullet point 3 and supporting details
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
All the best
[Your first name only]
You shouldn’t need to change this structure and you can use it again and again for any informal task 1 answer. Try making a plan before you start writing and use it to plan your answers. All you have to do then is think of the supporting details for paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 and write your answer.
Informal language does not mean you can relax and write like you would in a text message to a friend. Remember that this is an English test and your grammar and spelling will have to be correct.
Avoid using abbreviations like ‘luv’ or ‘bcuz’. Also, don’t use acronyms like ‘LOL’ or ‘OMG’ and never use emoticons 🙂
It is a good idea to use contractions like ‘I’ve’, ‘I’d’ and ‘I’m’. This is one of the ways that you can show the examiner that you know how to write an informal letter.
Below is a range of informal language that you can use in your informal letters. Which ones you use will depend on the context.
I’m just writing to let you know that….
I’m writing to tell you about….
I’m very sorry about…..
I’d like to apologise for….
Asking for help
I’d be really grateful if you could…..
I was wondering if you would give me a hand with…..
I was wondering if you would do me a favour.
I was over the moon to hear about….
I was thrilled to find out that/about……
Giving bad news
I’m afraid I’ve a bit of bad news for you.
All the best.
Keep in touch.
Informal Letter Writing Checklist
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when trying to write an informal IELTS letter.
- Have I read and thought about the instructions carefully?
- Am I sure that this is an informal letter?
- Have I done a plan?
- Have I covered both the reason for writing and the 3 bullet points?
- Have I supported each bullet point with relevant details?
- Have I used informal language?
- Have I used paragraphing correctly?
- Are my ideas easy to understand?
- Have I avoided copying the word in the question and varied my vocabulary?
- Have I checked my letter for grammar and spelling mistakes?
Band 9 Sample Informal Letter
You have recently started work in a new company.
Write a letter to an English-speaking friend. In your letter
- explain why you changed jobs
- describe your new job
- tell him/her your other news
I’m just writing to let you know I quit my old job and found something new.
I was really fed up with being a brain surgeon because it wasn’t really much of a challenge anymore. You know me; if I’m not learning new tricks, I get bored too easily and have to find something new.
I’m now teaching English as a foreign language in Vietnam and it suits me down to the ground. I teach two adult classes and a kindergarten class, which is not only challenging but also rewarding too. Can you believe it?
I also have some other amazing news- I’m getting married. She was one of my first ever students and I guess it was love at first sight for both of us. Make sure you keep the first weekend in July free, so you can come and celebrate with us.
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