How to teach "Writing messages" in Form Two

How to teach "Writing messages" in Form Two

Welcome to UNIT 21.5

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 21.4, we discussed about the various ways of teaching the sub topic “Writing cards"  in Form Two.                                                
IN THIS UNIT 21.5, we will cover the sub topic “Writing messages" in Form Two.
Sub Topic: Writing messages
Periods per sub topic: 8
Class: Form Two
Writing telephone messages is one of the modern ways of communicating. Although it existed in the past, it has been the dominant in this new generation as well. Today, a person just needs a phone (some are very cheap), SIM card and a telephone number. After that, he/she can write a message to others even around the globe.
In this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to write telephone messages from callers. 
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.
In this sub topic/lesson; the teacher can guide students to brainstorm on the ways they use to write someone a telephone message. The teacher also has to guide students to brainstorm and discuss the format of a telephone message. This format includes the necessary features and steps that are used when writing telephone message. Some of these steps are:
Received by:
  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, the teacher will have to prepare samples of telephone messages. These are real telephone messages to be used when teaching. Here the teacher can print out several copies of telephone messages according to the number of students.
  1. Target Practice. Show them/Guide them to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.
In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will guide students to practice how to write telephone messages by using these patterns:
From...., To.......
Received by.....
However, there can be other patterns to follow according to the modern technology. If these new formats of writing telephone messages are appropriate, they can be taught to he students. Technology is always not static.
  1. Context-Based Practice. A teacher leads students to the discussion on how the target grammatical functions practised earlier can be applied or integrated into the contexts and situations. The students are guided by the teacher to apply the learnt skills in relevant contexts and situations like school and library.
In this sub topic/lesson, in the post offices, students can find various ways or texts on how to write telephone messages from callers. Also, the situations like home and school are appropriate.
  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, the most commonly applied vocabularies are: telephone, message.
Guide the students to the full sub topic/ lesson procedures, activities and games for better understanding of the sub topic by following these activities:
ACTIVITY ONE: Brainstorming. The teacher has to brainstorm with the students on the sub topic/lesson's aspects through oral questions with answers, pair works, and group discussions of all important concepts to get students on track.
In this activity, the teacher should discuss with the students the reasons for writing telephone messages. The following are some of the reasons:
1)    Getting to know each other
2)    People want to have fun together.
3)    People want to socialise.
4)    To accomplish a certain event
5)    To say goodbye to departing member of the family
6)    To welcome someone
7)    To congratulate someone
Thus, we can have various forms of messages that serve various purposes. We can have:
1)    Written messages for birthday, send off, or wedding ceremonies.
2)    Messages to express sympathy,
3)    Messages to congratulate others,
4)    Messages to wish others good luck,
5)    Messages to appreciate others, etc
Note that; it’s a mistake to think that when we say cards we actually mean invitation cards. There are various forms of cards and invitation card is just one of those varied forms of large category of cards. However, we will mostly discuss about invitation cards for one reason: they are most common in our life experiences.

The teacher will also guide students to brainstorm on the various concepts used when writing the telephone messages from callers. The main concepts in writing telephone messages are: telephone, message, caller, To, From, Signature, and other relevant concepts used when writing telephone messages.

The teacher will also guide students to brainstorm on the ways/steps of writing telephone messages. See at Putting Heads Together stage.
ACTIVITY TWO: Teacher's Demonstration. Teacher applies his/models or examples so as to bring the topic/lesson and the students into the real or common sense of the topic/lesson.
In this activity, the teacher should provide the format of writing telephone message to the students. These sample written telephone messages have to be supplied to students or displayed where everyone can see.
There should also be a teacher's step-by-step demonstration of writing telephone messages.
When someone has called, you can take a telephone message as follows:
  • First, tell him/her that the one he/she is looking for, is not available (if the person concerned is really unavailable) then ask him/her to take his/her message as follows:
  • Write down everything the caller says.
  • Write the information the caller is trying to convey.
  • If you don’t hear what he says, ask him/her to repeat.
  • Say Goodbye or You’re welcome at the end of the phone conversation if you think it applies.
  • Give the message to the concerned person as soon as you find him/her.
Example of the telephone message of this king:
Caller: Judith.
Business/occupation: Lawyer
Phone number (Call Back Number): +255768000000
Message: Wants to meet with Mr. Kazole. Will drop by office on Tuesday at 11:00 AM.
Message taken: 13/07/2018, at 12:09pm.
Receiver: Anita
Sample Telephone Message from Caller
Caller: .........
Date: ...........
Time: ..........
Therefore, a telephone message should have the following:
  • Date of call:
  • Time of call:
  • Who the call is for:
  • From: Company? Institution:
  • Phone (Work or Cell/Mobile):
  • Message:
  • Best time to call back:
  • Your name (Receiver’s name) for any questions from the targeted person.
ACTIVITY THREE: Students' Demonstration. Showing students how models like that of a teacher can be applied by them. Here students need to be guided on how to use given expressions, structures, vocabulary, and phrases or similar ones.
In this activity, the teacher should guide students to prepare the telephone message in their groups. Each group should prepare and present their work before the class.
Also in this activity, the teacher should supervise the students' presentation as they read the messages they have written from callers. In practicing writing telephone messages from callers, students should be in pairs. The first student being the caller and the second a receiver. Other students should listen attentively and note down the mistakes found in each telephone message presented. Finally, the teacher should come up with a conclusion in which students will be given the general view of telephone message and the best format to use when writing telephone messages.
The teacher should therefore discuss with the students the importance of telephone messages and other important details to consider when taking or writing a telephone message:
*The importance of telephone message is that it is good for the caller who doesn’t have a time to call back when he misses someone.
*Telephone messages are also important for the person who is busy because taking or writing a telephone message allows you to do other things.
The things to consider when writing the telephone message:
  • Make sure you write in a good-handwriting.
  • Be polite
  • Use a good pen/pencil.
  • Don’t write wrong things.
ACTIVITY FOUR: More Students’ Practice. Taking/leading students to the real situations or contexts where they can apply what they have mastered. Here speaking, reading or writing activities are involved.
ACTIVITY FIVE: Winding up the topic/lesson. Here teachers summarise the topic/lesson by emphasizing the importance of the sub topic/lesson and suggesting other related aspects of the sub topic/lesson.

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 Blog! (OLE).
Additionally, you can watch the following short YouTube Video and get some examples of telephone messages:

Ask students if they always see messages in the places they live. Also ask them what kinds of messages are common to their places.
In most cases, messages are very common nowadays especially because of invention of writing and technological developments. It is true that every person and every house can receive more than one message either through telephones, invitations or letters especially in most towns. Even in our villages, messages are common. The students should now be encouraged that messages are part and parcel of our everyday life. They should practice how to write good messages for others.
A teacher should design an evaluation for students by using appropriate assessment tools like oral questions or assignments so that to see if the student is able to write telephone messages from callers.
Assessment #01: Group work
Provide three or four topics for each group to choose and write the telephone message for it. These topics are greetings, best wishes, or any important information. Each group should present their work before the class.
Assessment #02: Pair works
Provide four topics for each pair to write a good telephone message for it. These four topics are appreciation, success, congratulation and sympathy. Each pair should present their work before the class.
Assessment #03: Individual work
Ask each individual student to write the telephone message for his/her graduation inviting his/her parents, relatives, and friends to the party.

Note: You can give students more individual works, pair works, and group works to facilitate their interaction and understanding of the sub topic or lesson. As English language teacher you have to give students more works to do. Because language is meant to be largely spoken and written, the teacher should rely on written exercises and notes. Instead students have to learn English language by vigorously exercising individually, in pairs, and in groups.
Writing messages involve writing. As it has always been stated in this blog, writing is a productive skill. After learning all four language skills during teaching and learning processes, finally the students will have to sit down and write in order to apply the skills they have masters. Thus, after mastering the skill of writing messages, students have to sit down and practice real writing of cards for various purposes in their daily life.

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 messages" in Form Two. 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.
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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.

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