B1 Lesson Plan

Write Me an Email! Formal & Informal Email Writing for ESL Learners

Created by ALULA | March 22, 2024

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With the ubiquity of email communication in modern personal and professional life, the ability to craft appropriate messages is a crucial skill. For ESL learners, understanding the conventions of email writing can vastly improve their communication abilities. This lesson plan is designed for intermediate B1 level students to navigate the nuances between formal and informal email styles and to practice writing emails that are effective and appropriate for a variety of situations.


In this lesson plan, students will explore the distinct differences between formal and informal email writing. They will engage in activities meant to enhance their understanding of email etiquette and practice writing emails suitable for different contexts, including work, school, or personal communication.

Lesson Focus

The primary focus is on writing. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the key features of formal and informal emails.
  • Compose clear and context-appropriate emails.
  • Apply proper email etiquette in various scenarios.

Lesson Content

During this session, we will engage in several interactive and practical activities to enhance our understanding and application of email writing skills.

Activity 1: Identifying Formal and Informal Email Features

Approximate Time Needed: 15 minutes

Objective: Recognize the language and structure that differentiate formal from informal emails.

Materials: Handouts with examples of formal and informal emails (these can be found in various ESL textbooks or created by the instructor).


  1. Distribute the handouts with email examples to each student.
  2. Ask students to read the emails and highlight elements that identify them as formal or informal.
  3. Discuss as a class which features are typical for each style of email and why they are used.

Activity 2: Writing a Formal Email

Approximate Time Needed: 25 minutes

Objective: Compose a formal email using appropriate language and format.

Materials: Writing prompts for different formal email scenarios (e.g., job application, request for information, complaint, etc.), writing paper or computers.


  1. Provide each student with a writing prompt for a formal email scenario.
  2. Instruct them to draft an email that addresses the prompt, focusing on formal language, proper greetings, closings, and email structure.
  3. Allow students to share their drafts in pairs and provide feedback to one another.
  4. Have a few volunteers read their emails aloud for group feedback.

Activity 3: Responding to an Informal Email

Approximate Time Needed: 20 minutes

Objective: Write a response to an informal email using a casual yet respectful tone.

Materials: Sample informal emails which require a response, pen and paper or computers.


  1. Hand out copies of an informal email to students or display them on screen.
  2. Guide students to write a reply to the informal email, practicing casual language that remains polite and coherent.
  3. Encourage students to share and discuss the tone and content of their replies with a partner.
  4. Discuss as a class the different approaches taken in their responses.

Activity 4: Email Role-Play

Approximate Time Needed: 30 minutes

Objective: Engage in a role-play exercise to implement email writing skills in a simulated real-life context.

Materials: Role cards detailing different scenarios that require formal or informal responses, computers or smartphones for drafting emails.


  1. Divide students into pairs and hand out role cards with their assigned scenario.
  2. Each pair will role-play an email exchange according to their scenario, ensuring they use the correct style (formal or informal).
  3. After completing their email drafts, pairs will exchange their emails with another pair for review and feedback.
  4. Conclude the activity with a class discussion on the effectiveness of the emails and areas for improvement.

Wrap Up

To recap this lesson plan, students have taken an immersive approach to understand the key differences between formal and informal emails through hands-on activities. By identifying features, practicing writing, responding to emails, and engaging in role-play scenarios, learners have gained confidence in their email communication abilities.

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