“Warm Regards …” – How to Write a Professional and Formal Letter?
The art of written communication is not easy, especially for a child exploring the English Language for the first time. Aside from the various tedious technical rules (e.g. grammar), your child needs to be versatile in managing different type of writing assignments. In fact, this is a skill that even our adult students have expressed difficulties. The key question is – how can my kid write in a powerful, precise and persuasive manner?
Various writing styles can best fit a particular assignment. The ability to adopt, adapt and apply these styles to different settings is one that will set your child apart. This is so especially with the examination syllabus still retaining a focus on flexibility in writing, with both an objective-based situational writing aspect and a content-based continuous writing aspect. One particular style that tends to vex our young students is the formal writing style. How can your child craft a professional and formal writing piece well?
Today, we will share three tips on how your child can widen their writing abilities by venturing into the formal style of writing!
Writing Tip #1: Clear, Concise and Complete Language
The common misconception that most of us have is that a formal letter requires long, confusing and convoluted words. Some of us believe that by showing off a wide vocabulary range, you can boast about your writing abilities. Rather, complicated words can achieve the reverse effect – they may confuse your main message or even make your child’s writing appear artificial. While your child needs to show that they have a competent command of the English Language, there is no need to use difficult language just for the sake of it.
Instead, your child can still highlight their writing prowess by using clear, concise and complete language. By choosing their words carefully, they will be able to set out the purpose of their formal writing succinctly. For example, if the task requires them to request for something, your child can maximise the word count by using less words (and less complicated words) to set out their request, while dedicating more space in elaborating their reasons for the request. Essentially, encourage your child to appreciate using words purposefully!
Excessive: “I beseech that you would furnish me with your unstinting support and accede to my request.”
Concise & dedicating more space for the reason: “I humbly request your support for the new initiative as it will allow the majority of less privileged students to develop technical skills that will strengthen their employability and develop their confidence.”
Writing Tip #2: Firm, Professional But Polite Tone
Beyond the vocabulary aspect, formal writing has a unique style. For most of the formal writing scenarios, a firm, professional but polite tone is necessary. The greatest challenge for your child is to balance the need to sound formal against the need to still create a connection through their writing. In this sense, emotive or descriptive words may not be a productive language choice (save those for writing stories!).
Building on this, the two techniques your child can try out is to experiment with sentence length or to vary the writing tone. For the sentence length, the general rule of thumb for formal writing is to adopt simple and short sentences. For example, instead of:
“I am writing to you to request for more time to complete my homework as I was unwell and I was unable to complete my homework in time even though the deadline for the homework is today.”
Try a simpler approach by breaking down the requests into parts:
“I am writing to you to request for more time to complete my homework. I understand that the homework was due today. However, I was unwell and was unable to complete my homework on time.”
The second version creates a more pleasant reading experience for your reader, especially for a formal piece of writing. Beyond this, it is important to watch the writing tone as well. While there is a temptation to be exceedingly polite (e.g. adding “Please” and “Thank you” excessively), remind your child to keep one eye on the formal request they are making so that they will still keep the objective of the writing task in mind.
Writing Tip #3: Precise Structure – Start with Purpose and with the Purpose
Moving on from the finer details of the writing piece, the next aspect is to look into the broad structure. Guide your child through the crafting of their structure before they launch into the writing itself. For formal writing assignments, the better starting point is to set out the “Why” early on in the writing piece. The key question is, – “What is my main point?” By instilling this habit in your child, they will not only start the writing process with a purpose but continue with the entire process with purpose as well!
Draft that Letter!
Formal writing is a versatile skill to learn from a young age. As your child grows and enters the workforce or even start to draft their applications for schools/scholarships, the ability to write a professional and formal letter or request will be directly applicable. It goes without saying that for your child to master the art of formal writing, practice is key. Remember to keep a consistent practice for the specific writing style before moving on to the next. We hope with the three tips above; you too can help guide your child as an all-rounded writer!
Public Speaking Academy strives to help students with both types of communication:
For written communication:
PSLE English Tuition for Primary 5 & 6:
For verbal communication:
Public Speaking for Kids/ Children: