The Best Notes on Teaching "Writing Letters to the editor" for Form Three Students

The Best Notes on Teaching "Writing Letters to the editor" for Form Three Students

Welcome to UNIT 14.3

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 14.2, we covered the sub topic “Talking about games” in Form Two

IN THIS UNIT, 4.3, we will cover the sub topic “Writing letters to the editor” in Form Three.

Sub Topic: Writing letters to the editor.
Periods per sub topic: 8
Class: Form Three.

(Also: For Literature in English Subject, Check out my Literature in English Blog. Also check out My Diary for Diary Writing Inspiration and More! )

Writing a letter to the editor is one of the skill that increase people's argumentation and problem-solving skills. The letter to the editor also plays the role of a bridge between any administrator and the administered. Although today there is a growing modern social interaction through internet, there is still a special place for the letters to the editor because people do not always depend on social media outlets. However, there is also online letters to the editor for online newspapers and magazines; hence letters to the editor are not only found on printed newspapers and magazines.

By the end of this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to write letters to the editor by using appropriate format of writing a letter to the editor, by applying necessary features of a letter to the editor, and by including relevant content of the topic being conveyed in a particular letter to the editor.

This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:

  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.

  1. Preparation of Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.
In this sub topic/lesson: Teacher will use some sample letters to the editors, or to the newspapers. These sample letters will serve as guides in addition with formats and features of a letter to the editor.

  1. Target Practice: Guiding students to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students through the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.
In this sub topic/lesson: The teacher will guide students to brainstorm on the usage of the following terminologies of the letter to the editor:
Dear editor...,
Yours Sincerely,

  1. Context-Based Practice: In this sub topic/lesson: In this context, the teacher has to explore and guide students to describe things and people at the School, in the street, or at home. These settings or contexts are real experiences for students. A teacher is not advised to ask students to describe things that are not familiar to them. They should start with what they know.
In this sub topic/lesson; the following setting and situation like school context can be applied by the teacher. This setting will make students feel the sub topic/lesson. They experience what is to be done by practice and within the real environments.

  1. Vocabulary Building Practice: At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.
In this sub topic/lesson: There may be a long vocabulary list of words, phrases, and expressions, but here are some of them: Editor, sender's address, addressee's address, signature, salutation, corruption, scheduled.

Guide the students to the full sub topic/lesson procedures, activities and games for the better understanding of the sub topic/lesson by following these activities:

Activity One: Introduction.
The main purpose of writing a letter to the editor is to express one’s individual views about a certain current issue. Letters to the editor are mostly published in newspapers and magazines. The composers of letters to the editor are those people who are passionate about a particular issue.
The tone of the letter to the editor can be informal or formal depending on the type of publication and topic. However, most letters to the editor have serious formal tone.
To introduce the sub topic/lesson, the teacher guides students to brainstorm and discuss on meaning of Letter to the editor, types of letters, features of letters to the editor, format of the letters to the editor, the reasons why people write letters, and the issues that one can write about in letters to the editor.
The meaning of Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor is the type of the letter that expresses individual’s views on the certain issue.

Types of letters
There are number of letters people write every day. These are some of the types of letters below:
  1. Friendly (informal) letters.
  2. Official (formal/business) letters.
  3. Application letters
  4. Letters to the editor
  5. Business transaction letters
  6. Order letters
  7. Complainant letters
  8. Request letters
  9. Resignation letters

Features of a letter to the editor
The students are also guided by the teacher to discuss the features of the letters to the editor. The teacher should at least let his/her students break the ice, or he/may start first and let the students proceed. The following are some of the features:
  • A letter to the editor is a persuasive text in nature. It is written to persuade.
  • A letter to the editor expresses opinion on a certain topic or matter.
  • A letter to the editor is often a response to the articles from newspapers or magazines.
  • Letters to the editor always start with ‘To the Editor’, and then leave a line.

Structure and format of a letter to the editor

  • Briefly outline the issue that you are writing about.

  • Explain your opinion.
  • Give evidence for your opinion.

  • Include your opinion.
  • Restate opinion.

Also, the format of the letters to the editor includes the following important aspects:
  • The letter to the editor has a title
  • It has sender's address
  • It has salutation
  • It has introduction
  • It also has main body where the opinions are presented
  • It must include facts and vivid examples
  • It has conclusion
  • It has receiver's signature at the end

Some reasons why people write letters
  • People write letters for various reasons. Some of them are:
  • To greet other people like friends and relatives
  • To inform others on a certain issue.
  • To apply for a job post, tender etc.
  • To order something.
  • To apply for studies.
  • To warn others.
  • To give out opinions on something.
  • To complain on something.
  • To resign from a job or position.

Issues that one can write about in letters to the editor
Letters to the editor can be written on various issues such as:
  • Truancy
  • Bad roads
  • Road accidents
  • School drop outs
  • Early pregnancies
  • Early marriages
  • Poor performance of students
  • Responsibility of parents to a student

How do People write a letter to the editor?
Also, the teacher has to discuss with the students on how People write a letter to the editor:
(1)   Open the letter with the simple salutation.
(2)   Grab the reader’s attention.
(3)   Explain what the letter is about at the start of your main body.
(4)   Explain why the issue is important.
(5)   Give evidences for any praise or criticism you make.
(6)   State your opinion about what should be done.
(7)   Keep it brief.
(8)   Sign the letter.
All these aspects and ideas should be discussed and written down on the board. The students have to write them on their exercise books as their notes to further understand the art of writing letters to the editor.

Activity Two: Demonstration of Teacher’s Model. When students have been randomly asked about the features of the letters to the editor, the teacher now introduces them to the format of letters to the editor and asks them to write a letter to the editor.
The teacher has to guide students to read some model letters to the editor. The teacher will provide some model letters to the editor and ask students to read some of these sample letters.
After reading these model letters to the editor, the teacher can ask students some comprehension questions to check if they understand the reasons for writing letters to the editor and the required features of these types of letters.

Teacher’s Model

To the Editor
Your Name

The Editor
Name of Newspaper
City of publication

Dear Editor,
I congratulate you for what you give us in your daily newspapers articles. I am writing this letter to present my views on the shortage of water our village is experiencing. We complain every time we meet our leaders but our cries are never heard. Our cries are unanswered to most government officials, and how I have decided to write to your newspaper to air my views to another level.

Since last year, shortage of water at Mkombozi village has been rampant. We experience a lot of challenges and difficulties because of the shortage of water. We have approached several leaders our village but there are no responses. For instance, in November last year, we approached our Village chairman for this, and he promised us of solving the problem but we didn’t get even a single drop of water at our households.
In January this year, we tried to demonstrate to the Village Council Office, but police stopped us, and when we tried to force the demonstration, some of our fellow villagers were badly injured by the police brutality.

I have decided to write to you so that our village leaders, District leaders, Regional leaders, and National leaders can hear our cry. We are entirely tired of this situation. Our life has been so difficult because of the shortage of water.  Every time we pay for water around the price of TZS 500 per 20 litre bucket. The life is so challenging now that people have no money to buy water. This situation is likely to cause outbreak of diseases and other problems of health and hygiene at Mkombozi village.

Yours sincerely

Joshua Jimongi

Activity Three: Students’ Participation. The next activity for students is to choose a topic on which to write a letter to the editor then write the first draft. Under the teacher's guidance, students will choose appropriate and relevant topics so that they can write the letters to the editor in pairs or groups.
The teacher can use some topics cut from selected English newspapers or from internet. But some of the topics can be brainstormed and discussed especially those which are about the surrounding environments.
Some topics are:
  • Road accidents
  • Bad conditions of local roads
  • Alcoholism
  • Managing street children
  • Inhuman killings of albinos
  • Irresponsible leaders

Activity Four: Writing in Groups. After drafting their letters to the editor in pairs or groups, students can revise and edit their letters with the help of the teacher. It's important for the teacher to help as they edit because their works are going to the final stage and it is important for the teacher to make sure the works are finished well with acceptable format and perfection.

Activity Five: The Display Time. The teacher to display the letters for students to read in their own time. Classroom noticeboards are always helpful because instead of allowing students to keep their best works in their trunks and bags or instead of teacher keeping his/her models in his or her shelves and drawers; these works are fixed on the class noticeboards or carefully fixed on class walls.

Additional Activity: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of ‘O’ Level English (OLE).

At this moment, the teacher asks students to assess which other ways they can use to present their dissatisfaction on something at school or even how they present their compliments on something at school. Guide students discuss the things like Suggestion box, and their class minutes as form of expressing their views. However, it is a good idea to emphasise that there are other convenient way to express opinions on various things; and this is by formally writing the letter to the editor.

The teacher should use relevant assessment tools like oral questions, drills, games, exercises, pair works, group works, and assignments so that to check if a student is able to able to write letters to the editor.

Assessment #01. Writing to the Newspapers Article
Write a letter to the editor of the Daily News giving your response to Anne Joachim’s article “Pregnancy isn’t the end of school”. (Not less than 200 words)

Assessment #02. Writing to the editor on the selected topic.
Ask students to write to you on any topic you will give them. For example, you can give them this topic:
Write a letter to the editor on which ways should be adopted to attract more tourists to Lake Tanganyika. Write to Kasomo Beach Resort, P.O.Box 44, Mpanda. Your name is STUDENT TOURIST, P.O. Box 155, Mpanda.

Summarising the sub topic/lesson like this requires a teacher to encourage students to formally respond to various topics in which opinions are needed through writing letters to the editor.
The teacher has to teach students that the secret of writing good letters to the editor is to use persuasive language with well researched evidences. Short and concise letters to the editor are likely to be published than long, unorganised letters. Also, the use of first person point of view is the standard for letters to the editor.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.

This article is about how to study and teach "Writing a letter to the editor" in Form Three. As a student or teacher, what is your opinion on how to study and teach this sub topic/lesson?
Your opinion is worth and I believe that it can make these materials better for our own consumption.
You are Welcome!

Check out how to Study & Teach other Form Three Sub Topics in this Blog!

Related Topics:

Also check out:

For more on Literature Topics, check out Literature in English Blog
For how to be professional keeper of your Diary in Kiswahili or English, check out My Diary



Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.


Please share your thoughts

Previous Post Next Post