FCE Writing – Informal Letter/ Email Checklists


Informal Letter / Email Check lists 

As I have mentioned in my previous post on writing essays (FCE), check lists work really well with students as they helped them to stay focus and complete the task correctly. So, I have decided to make some more check lists. smiley Hope you find them useful.

How to use Check lists at home :
  • Ask students to have the check lists right in front of them when writing the tasks and  to make sure that they go through the check lists.
  • Collect essays and mark them.
  • When giving the essays back encourage students to add missing points from the check lists.
In the classroom:
  • Before correcting the essay get students to swap letters.
  • Hand-out a new check lists handout and get students to read and tick the points used in the task.
  • Students get their writings back and add any missing point.
  • Teacher collects writing and marks them.
FCE Writing – Informal letter/ Email

Check lists: 

  • Divide your letter into short paragraphs.
  • Write about a different idea in each paragraph.
  • 1st paragraph: Greet your friend in the introduction.
  • 2nd paragraph: Refer to your reason for writing.
  • 3rd paragraph: Focus on the exam questions (for example: describe the event and say  what people did).
  • 4thparagraph: Say why this event was important for your country.
  • 5thparagraph: Ask your friend to write back.
  • 5thparagraph: Finish your letter in an informal way.

Check list (Useful Phrases):

Thanks for your letter/email.                                                                          
It’s really nice to hear from you.
I hope you are well.
I’d love to help you with/ tell you more about.
Body of letter/email
I thought you might be interested to hear….                         
I’m going to tell you about….
Did you know….
As far as I know…..
I think / believe……..
I hope this information is useful.
Write soon and tell me (about) …
I hope to hear from you soon.
Take care.
Best wishes/ regards.
If you have found this blogpost useful make sure to download the checklist on the essay too.
Click here for the checklist. More substantial post are coming up soon and if you’d like to check them out you can follow the blog😊😊😀.

Fluency: Working with Phrasal verbs

This year I set a challenge to make my students aware of the fact that English is packed with Phrasal verbs and it is what keeps them away from sounding more natural or fluent. Most of them have seen Phrasal Verbs before but have not really paid that much attention or went through the 'noticing stage'.

How I teach phrasal verbs?


  • Present them ALWAYS in context, short dialogues or sentences with clear meaning.
  • Get them to think of the meaning individually and then share their thoughts in pairs. 
  • Get them to look up for more examples or prepare some yourself beforehand. 
  • Analyze the examples and the phrasal verbs. Is it possible to insert a word between a verb and a particle?
  • Ask your students to create a small dialogue or a situation using the phrasal verb.
  • Students take turns to act it out.  
  • Next lesson: Students read out their dialogue again without saying the phrasal verb. The rest of the class listens to the dialogue and guesses the phrasal verb. OR get them to act it out using body language and words.




The cost of War

The cost of War
Description:This lesson plan is organised around the theme of war through the use of a project that outlines the consequences of war. It also includes  a short text on the cost of war, pictures and quotes.
Learners: Teenagers, Adults
Theme: War
Language: Talking about events in the past, describing pictures
Skills: Speaking, reading, observing pictures, talking about historical facts. 
Materials: text, websites, visual prompts (photographs), quotes. 

Step 1: Ask students to look at the pictures presented on the whiteboard. Elicit students’ thoughts and ideas around the pictures. For higher levels students it’s important to ‘stretch’ Ss in order to make the most of their abilities. Write down on the whiteboard any interesting words or phrases that can students learn.

Possible questions to ask: 
-where are these people?
-what are they doing?
-how do they feel like?

Step 2: Give out a handout with two pictures. Ask students ‘what can you see in picture A and what in picture B’?. Divide learners in pairs or in groups of 3 and ask them  to discuss  and write down 5-6 differences about the children’s lives in the pictures. Tell students they have 5mins
 Picture A:

  Picture B:

Step 3: Elicit students’ answers. Write down on the whiteboard any interesting words or phrases that can students learn.

Step 4: Vocabulary activity: Students work in pairs and match the definition of the words in bold. Monitor and help students if needed by giving them more examples. Elicit the answers and help students with the pronunciation of the words.  

A. Vocabulary: Match 1-7 with A-G

1. Her voice reverberatedaround the hall.

2. The violence was the result of political and ethnic conflicts.

3. A camp for refugees fleeing from the war

4. Two soldiers and one civilian were killed in the explosion.

5. The food supplies are inadequate to meet the needs of the hungry.

6. An example ofhostility is a bomb exploding in a crowded marketplace.

7. The bomb devastated much of the old part of the city.

A. to completely destroy a place or an area.

B. acts of fighting in a war

C. (of a sound) to be repeated several times as it is reflected off different surfaces

D. not enough; not good enough.

E. a situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in a serious disagreement or argument.

F. to leave a person or place very quickly, especially because you  are afraid of possible danger.

G. a person who is not a member of the armed forces or the police.
Step 5: Tell students that they are going to read about the findings of a project. Don’t tell them what’s the project about. Give them few minute to quickly scan it and complete this sentence:
‘This project is about……..’  

The cost of war
The wars begun in 2001 have been painful for millions of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and the United States, and economically costly as well. The human costs of these conflictswill reverberate for years to come in each of those four countries. There is no turning the page on the wars with the end of hostilities, and there is even more need as a result to understand what those wars’ consequences are and will be.
Some of the project’s findings:
  • armed forces on all sides, contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers and civilians — shows that over 350,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and many more indirectly.
  • 220,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting and more will die in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as the violence continues.
  • Millions of people have been displaced and are living in inadequate conditions. The number of war refugees and displaced persons — 6.7 million — is equivalent to all of the people fleeing their homes.
  • Iraq’s health and education systems remain war-devastated.
  • Women in both countries are essentially closed out of political power and high rates of female unemployment.
Step four: Ask students the following questions:
-Which are the wars in the text?
-Who are fighting in it?
Step 5: Ask learners to read the text again and try to memorize the four consequences of the wars. Allow students to write 2-3 words in a blank page to help them remember the text. Students take turns and briefly explain the consequences in pairs.
Step 6: Ask students to look at the pictures presented on the whiteboard. Elicit students’ thoughts and ideas around the pictures.  
The idea here is to ask learners look on the web and gather some information about the consequences of a particular war. The war we are going to focus on is the ‘Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974’ since I’m teaching in Cyprus and students are well-familiar with this war.(Here you can add your own pictures depending on the war you are planning to focus on for this lesson)

Step 6: Divide students into groups and ask them to write down the consequences of this war by searching online. Allow students to visit various websites to gather information. Teachers should have a list of websites in case students are struggling to find any.
Step 7: Discussion:  Ask each pair to present a finding, monitor students and encourage them to discuss in order to exploit speaking activities. 

In the discussion encourage learners to use the vocabulary learned like (conflicts, civilians, inadequate conditions, war-devastated and so on). Game: write down the words in the whiteboard and give them a point when they use the word to describe a consequence.  

Step 8: End the lesson with the following quotes. Allow students to express their final thoughts.

What makes a great leader?

What makes a great leader? 

Lesson plan: 

Description:This lesson plan is organised around the theme of leadership through the use of Simon’s Sinek TEDvideo ‘How great leaders inspire action’, It also includes a short quiz, quotes, vocabulary building activities and discussions around the topic of ‘inspiring leaders’.
Level:Upper-Intermediate/ IELTS preparation classes
Learners: Teenagers, Adults
Theme: Leadership
Skills: Speaking, watching a video, reading , creative expression, deep thinking.
Materials:short video, quiz, quote slides.

Step one: Write on the whiteboard few leadership quotes. Tell students to guess what’s our topic for today and give them 5 minutes to discuss the quotes and the meaning behind each quote. Asklearners again to discuss the quote and write down 3 reasons why they agree or disagree with the quote. Give time to students to share their ideas with their partner.

Step two: Elicit students’ thoughts and ideas around the sayings. For higher levels students it’s important to ‘stretch’ Ss in order to make the most of their abilities. Write down on the whiteboard any interesting words or phrases that can students learn. It’s better for students to be given a time limit, so that they can pace themselves

Step three: (if students’ have smart phones). Ask learners to take the Quiz and find out whether they are Leaders or Followers. This is my result 🙂

Certificate: Test results
Are You a Leader or a Follower?

For 40 % you are: You are EQUAL. Sometimes you are a leader and sometimes you are a follower. You aren’t afraid to lead others but you also aren’t afraid to follow. You give people chances to take the lead or follow behind. Either way, you go with the flow and you aren’t just one or the other. Good job.
33.2760 % of 20348 Quiz participants had this profile! Profile A
Take this quiz: Are You a Leader or a Follower?

Step three: Tell students that they are going to watch a short video around the topic of ‘leadership’. Ask learners to read the following questions before watching the video? *You can divide the video into two parts (0:00-11:00, 11:00- the end)

1. What’s Simon’s opinion? Do you agree or disagree?

2. What’s significant about ‘Apple’, ‘Martin Luther King’ and the ‘Wright Brothers’? Briefly outline their stories.  

 Step four: Monitor and help students to express their ideas. You can write down any mistakes and provide error-correction at the end of the lesson.

Step five: Tell students that they are going to work in pairs to complete the ‘vocabulary building’ activities.  

Click here to download the activities

Vocabulary Building: Lesson plan 1
What makes a great leader?
This academic word list, can helps you to express your ideas and thoughts and work your way for high scores. A must have resource for IELTS test takers.
Watching TED videos for IELTS? Why not?
Vocabulary learned from this video:
Activity 1: Match the meaning of the words in bold.
Table 1
Example Meaning
1. Writers who are viewed as innovative have new ideas and are creative in thinking A. A person who provides expert advice professionally

2. It took me many years to be now here. To reach this stage is a great achievement. B. Officially recognised as being trained to perform a particular job.

3. He acted as campaign consultant to the president. C. In a profound extent; extremely; profound way; greatly

4. This advertising agency offers really good prices. You should go there. E. (of a person) introducing new ideas; original and creative thinking.

5. He had set up a fund to support exporters. F. Difficult to perceive; indistinct or vague.

6. Only qualified candidates will contacted for this position G. A business or organization providing particular service.

7. This would codify existing intergovernmental cooperation on drugs H.A thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage.

8. He profoundly changed the whole course of my life. I feel confident now. I. To sum up money saved or made available for a particular purpose

9. The picture is very fuzzy. J. Arrange according to a plan or system.
Table 2:
1. I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational explanation
A. A person or organization that is slow to do something or slow to make a progress
2. The emphasis is now on tangible results

B. Clear and definite; real:
3. Staff were under enormous pressure and there was no time for laggards

C. A disagreement or argument
8.His intuitive understanding of the readers’ real needs

D. A public speaker, especially one who is eloquent or skilled
9. A territorial dispute between the two countries. E. Based on or in accordance with reason or logic:
10. Who hardly find politicians that are great orators

F. Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning
11. Those whose business is the pursuit of knowledge, G. The action of pursuing someone or something
Activity 2: Tick the 5 top qualities that make a Great Leader and check with your partner if you agree.
  • Honesty
  • Ability to Delegate
  • Communication
  • Sense of humour
  • Confidence
  • Commitment
  • Positive attitude
  • Creativity
  • Intuition
  • Ability to inspire
  • Risk taker
  • Organised
Step seven: close up the lesson by gathering some ideas on ‘what makes a great leader’ and provide learners with error-correction

Try it out!

Type of activity: small groups, matching
Function practised: comparing and contracting, discussing advantages and disantavages.
It would be easier to. . . . ..
The. . . .. . . . would be better/stronger
The. . .. . .. . was . . . . er/the. . . . -est because
The. . .. . . was not as. . . .. as the. . .. .
The. . . . . was too. . . .
The . . . was not. . . enough,
Lexical areas: names of tools and instruments, action verbs
Problem vocabulary: tweezers, twig, coat, hanger, wedgem unblock, squeezing, crack, floorboard, accidentally
Phrasal verbs: get out, fix onto, push into.
How to use the game: Divide the class into groups of three or four. Play the PowerPoint presentation to make sure students learn the vocabulary. Give students the worksheet with the task list. The object of the game is for each group to decide which implement would be more useful in each situation. They should compare the implement and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. When they have finished, one person from each group go to another group to compare results and discuss advantages and disadvantages of the different methods employed.
If your students are adults, you might bring in the actual implement for each group instead of the presentation.
Optional rules: 1. Another suggestion will be to monitor, and give points to the team/students who uses the ‘exponent vocabulary’. 2. Each implement is to be used only once.


Task list:
1. You have a bottle of wine but no corkscrew
2. The cupboard door keeps swinging open
3.This sink is blocked
4. The neighbour’s dog keep squeezing through a hole in the fence
5. Your ring has dropped into a saucepan of boiling water
6. You have dropped some money through a crack in the floorboard
7. You can’t get the lid off the jam pot
8. Your house is locked and you can’t get in.
9. A water pipe is leaking and water is dripping onto the floor. 

Download the worksheet here