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LESSONS 4 AND 5

LETTER WRITING

Writing skills are very important because there is a large writing component in your Grade 12 exams tasks. If you can write well, this will ensure you a good results in the exams. There are many different types of writing, such as essays, notes, CVs, reports, and minutes.

In these lessons, we are focusing on transactional writing. In the exam., you are required to write at least one longer and one shorter transactional or functional piece.

Transactional writing is another name for functional writing.

Transactional writing refers to writing that has a more obvious purpose, very often a business purpose. It is concerned with events in day-to-day living. It includes all writing dealing with facts, theories, information or persuasion, e.g. in newspapers, textbooks, manuals, recipe books. It includes the writing of historians, journalists, scientists, advertisers, and philosophers.

LONGER TRANSACTIONAL WRITING

The kind of transactional writing you need to know includes the writing of letters, reviews, reports, diary entries, memoranda, and minutes.

SHORTER TRANSACTIONAL WRITING

There is also shorter transactional writing, such as the writing of the body copy of an advert or a poster, messages, postcards, notices, flyers, e-mails.

HOW TO APPROACH THE TRANSACTIONAL WRITING IN THE EXAM

CHOOSING A TOPIC AND KNOWING WHAT TO WRITE

When you read the topics on the exam paper, you must carefully think about:

The purpose of a piece of writing WHY are you writing? What are you hoping to achieve through this piece of writing?

What is the goal you have in mind?

The audience of a piece of writing i.e., the person or people who are going to read what you have written.

The context of the piece of writing

i.e., is the general information about the time, place and situation in which it occurred, and which you need to know in order to understand it fully.

The Style

“Style” refers to the particular way something is done. A writing style refers to the way someone writes so that you know who the writer is.

Style is made up of:

o

Diction (choice of words)

o

Punctuation

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o

Sentence construction

o

Paragraph construction

Different styles are used for different purposes, for example:

Formal Intimate Casual or colloquial Chatty

The writer’s Point of view This is the way in which you see things; your attitude.

The person’s point of view is the position from which the person sees something or how a person thinks about something; a standpoint.

The format of the type of writing

The format is the way in which it is arranged and presented.

Let us consider our headings in relation to the friendly letter:

The purpose of a piece of writing

A letter written to a friend or family member to share news, for example a complaint to a neighbour about a barking dog or constant hooting or a letter of thanks for a pleasant visit

Your purpose could be to inform, complain, entertain, thank.

The audience of a piece of writing

The recipient of the letter: someone you know quite well or very well.

The context of the piece of writing

This is the situation in which you are writing, after a party or a visit, the problems surrounding a

barking dog

The style that is appropriate for the piece of writing

Friendly does not mean that you may use slang or swearing; you may use colloquial English and a colloquial diction which will include words like ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, but do not become too colloquial, for example, I do not like ‘kids’ in writing; I prefer ‘children’.

• The writer’s point of view

Are you pleased, grateful, excited, annoyed, concerned?

The format of the type of writing

The layout or format refers to the way in which a text is designed and constructed. The set up must be in keeping with the purpose and genre of the text.

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Here is an example of a friendly letter. Look at its format and style and discuss whether the letter fulfils its purpose.

Dear Tumi

My friend we just got good news from our teacher, that next term we are going on a tour, just the Grade 12’s. We might go in the beginng of October or in the mid of October and we are going to Kids camp.

When I went to Kids camp it was in grade 7. It was the best time in my life, I have never had such fun in my life. In Kids camp we done so much activitys like canoeing, diving in the mud and my favirate one was when we had to work as a group and we went to the dam and they gave us two drum and ropes and four logs and we had to build a thing that would be able to get us though the dam and the first people there will be the first shower and it was fun. We also had one scary but fun activity that we done was when we had to swing from a high place down to the dam it was called the fuffy slide.

As you can see, I mean as you can read it was a great experience ever. I really can’nt wait when we go again and it’s going to be fun cause you going to be there with me

With love

Sally

This letter does not really fulfil its purpose in that it is very weak and poorly written.

We are going to do some editing of the letter. A very important assessment standard demands that you edit your work; you must learn to read your work critically to see what corrections and improvements you can make.

Assessment standard:

reflect on, analyse and evaluate own work, considering the opinion of others, and present final draft:

Here is the letter with some corrections. Remember, it still does not have an address and a date.

Dear Tumi

We have just had good news from our teacher: next term we are going on a tour, just the Grade 12s! We might go at the beginning of October or in the middle of October. We are going to Kids Camp.

I last went to Kids camp in Grade 7. It was the best experience I had ever had. I have never had such fun in my life! A range of activities were organised, such as, canoeing, diving, playing in the mud and - my favourite – building a raft. We had to work as a group at the dam; we were given two drums, ropes and four logs and we had to build a raft that would be able to get us over the dam. Those who got across first had the first showers – and the hot water. It was such fun! Equally enjoyable, but scary was swinging from a high place down to the dam.

You can see why it was such a great experience. I really can’t wait to go again. This time, you are going to be there with me.

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With love

Sally

Usually, learners manage the friendly letter quite well. However, there may be other topics on the paper.

The first thing to do is to study the topics and make sure that you know what it is you are expected to do. This is not always as easy as it sounds!

Let us look at a variety of tasks and see what is required for each one.

Write ONE (or more, if you have time) of the following. The body of the letter should be 150 to 200 words in length.

(a) You are a strong athlete and very good in your chosen sport. You would like to

coach Grade 8-10 learners at a local school. You notice that the school has advertised for

a coach who can attend practices twice a week and supervise matches on a Saturday. Write your letter of application to the principal.

(b) A household implement which you bought a few years ago has given you great

satisfaction. Write a letter to the Sales Manager of the firm from which you bought the implement praising this particular product.

(c) Write a letter to a local newspaper on any TOPICAL issue. Remember to be brief,

objective and logical; write an effective opening; never be offensive or libellous. If you use

a pseudonym or nom de plume, your own name must appear below the pseudonym.

When you write, you need to be able to:

• identify the target audience and the specific purpose such as narrating, entertaining, persuading, arguing, explaining, informing, analysing, describing and manipulating;

• identify and explain types of texts to be produced such as imaginative, informational, creative, transactional;

• decide on and apply the appropriate style, point of view and format of texts

Each of the topics above requires you to write a business letter. Let us start by considering topic (a).

(a) You are a strong athlete and very good in your chosen sport. You would like to

coach Grade 8-10 learners at a local school. You notice that the school has advertised for

a coach who can attend practices twice a week and supervise matches on a Saturday. Write your letter of application to the principal.

Who is the target audience? You will write to the principal of the school.

What is your specific purpose? You are writing to impress the principal with your qualifications and suitability for a post. You want to get the job!

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What type of text are you required to produce? You will write a letter of application.

What is the appropriate style, point of view and format for this text? Will use a formal style; you are writing from your own point of view, but you will, obviously, consider the point of view of the principal (what can you say that will influence her/him to appoint you?) The required format is that of a business letter.

Here is an example of such a letter:

The Principal Jabulile High School Rejoice Avenue Houghton

2196

Dear Mrs Dladla

Application for position as Soccer Coach

26 High Street Berea

2198

5 February 2007

I am responding to the advertisement published in The Sunday Times on 4 February 2007, concerning a soccer coach.

I am currently a Grade 12 learner at Gauteng High School and I am interested in a

part-time position which will enable me to coach soccer, which is my passion. I have participated in soccer both in primary and high school, and I have been a team member since Grade 6. This year,

I have suffered an injury which has put me out of the team for four months, but I would like to coach during that time. This means I am available for both practices and matches.

I have included my CV and I am available for an interview on any afternoon. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

fA UA `ÉÄÉ|

Sonnyboy Moloi

LETTER OF APPLICATION

CONTENT

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Paragraph 1: State

The post you are applying for

Where you heard about it (newspaper, word of mouth)

Paragraph 2: Explain briefly what makes you suitable for the job.

Paragraph 3: State that the CV is attached and make yourself available for an interview.

FORMAT AND STYLE

Correct letter format, including the address of both sender and recipient, date, salutation and close

Formal, polite style

TIPS

1.

There is NO punctuation in the address. Do not abbreviate Street as St or Road as Rd.

2.

Skip a line after your address and the date, and write the business address of the company you are writing to here against the left margin. Always start with a person. Find out the title of the person you should be writing to, for example

The Post Master

The Chairperson

The Director

The Principal

STYLE OF A BUSINESS LETTER

Formal

Checklist for a letter of application:

- include all the necessary information

- use the correct names and titles

- check that your spelling and typing is correct

- and make sure your application is neat

Topic (b) requires you to know what a “household implement” is:

(b) A household implement which you bought a few years ago has given you great

satisfaction. Write a letter to the Sales Manager of the firm from which you bought the implement praising this particular product.

An “implement” is something that you use, a tool of some kind. A ‘household implement’ could be a knife, such as a carving knife or a special chef’s knife of some kind. This could be some kind of feather duster, perhaps made of a special material or having extensions so that you can dust between blinds or in high corners. If you do not know what a “household implement” is, you cannot write this letter. Be very careful when you choose a topic that you actually know what the examiner is talking about, or you will write off the topic and get 0 for content.

Who is the target audience?

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You are writing to the Sales Manager.

What is your specific purpose? You want to praise the implement you bought and say thank you to the company. We are so quick to criticize and complain that it is lovely to write a letter of gratitude and thanks,

What type of text are you required to produce? You will write a business letter.

What is the appropriate style, point of view and format for this text? The style is formal; you write from the point of view of a satisfied customer and you use the same format as with the letter of application. Do not forget the little details: date, address, the name of the person you are writing to or the position (The Sales Manager), a topic line, salutation and close.

Finally, topic (c):

(c) Write a letter to a local newspaper on any TOPICAL issue. Remember to be brief,

objective and logical; write an effective opening; never be offensive or libellous. If you use a pseudonym or nom de plume, your own name must appear below the pseudonym.

Who is the target audience? You are writing to all the people who read the newspaper. You might address the editor as Sir, but, in fact, you are not writing to the editor at all. You are addressing the members of the public who read the letters page.

What is your specific purpose? Your purpose will vary according to the topic you have chosen. You might be angry, sad, confused, frustrated, pleased, congratulatory, etc. You want to inform, entertain, amuse, and interest the other people who read the newspaper.

What type of text are you required to produce?

You will produce a short, clear letter that is intelligent and entertaining. No one wants to be told: “I saw your boring letter in the newspaper yesterday”.

What is the appropriate style, point of view and format for this text?

This letter is formal but it can be more emotional and passionate than the other letters which are courteous and polite. You can be a bit more lively in this letter also, and you may even use some colloquialisms, but remember that your letter will be published and you are trying to show that you are intelligent and thoughtful, not hysterical and rude.

ACTIVITY

Write a letter to a local politician, focusing on a particular problem in your community and suggesting solutions.

ANSWER AND ASSESSMENT

Follow the format given in this lesson, and use the assessment grid.

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NOTE

There are many kinds of business letter, such as

A letter of complaint

A letter of application

A letter of resignation

A letter asking for information, action etc

A letter giving information

A letter explaining something, e.g, that action that has been taken

A letter of invitation

BEFORE THE EXAM, practise as many different kinds of letter as you can. Keep in mind

The audience of a piece of writing

The person who will receive the letter: in an exam, a business letter will probably be written to someone the learners do not know, a complete stranger whom they are addressing for the first time.

The context of the piece of writing

What makes the person write and the situation out of which he/she is writing

The style that is appropriate for the piece of writing Formal, polite (for a business letter)

• The writer’s point of view

Even if the learner is complaining, he/she must never be rude or aggressive.

The format of the type of writing

What we have looked at here is how important it is to know exactly what type of writing you are asked to do. Different tasks require different kinds of writing. The three topics we have shown you all fall under Transactional or Functional Writing; they are all letters; they are all business letters, but they are all slightly different in the way they will be written.

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