Writing an IELTS Informal Letter

Understanding the IELTS Informal Letter task.

You will only write an IELTS informal letter if the exam instructions tell you to write to a friend. The format of every general IELTS question is the same. You will know why you are writing the letter and who you are writing to. In the informal letter, it’s always to a friend. The letter must be written in the correct style i.e chatty and more like the friendly, personal style, we use when we are speaking to a friend.

The exam question might ask you to write about your work or explain why you changed jobs so the topic is work-related. However, it says ‘write to a friend’, so the style is informal even though it’s about work.

Exam question:

You have recently started working for a new company.

Write a letter to an English speaking friend.

In your letter:

  • Explain the reasons why you changed jobs
  • Describe your new job
  • Tell him/her your other news

A checklist for informal letter writing:

Don’t forget to ask yourself these questions when writing an informal IELTS letter!

  1. Have I understood and thought carefully about the instructions?
  2. Am I sure this is an informal letter? Is it to a friend?
  3. Have I covered the 3 bullet points in the exam task?
  4. Have I made it clear why I’m writing the letter?
  5. Is the language in an informal style?
  6. Have I used paragraphs correctly?
  7. Have I copied the question word for word? If yes, use paraphrase or synonyms.
  8. Is there a variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures and tenses?
  9. Are there sentences that are repetitive or don’t say much and can be missed out if you have too many words?
  10. Have I checked my writing for spelling mistakes?
  11. Am I sharing my thoughts and ideas clearly with my reader?

In this sample letter ( band 9) try to answer or match the questions  1-9 with, words, informal phrases, grammatical structures and sentences or parts of the letter.

Dear Ben,

Thanks for your letter and the superb photos, It was great to hear all about your holiday and it sounds like you had a fantastic time in Rome.

I just thought I’d write to let you know that I finally quit my job and I’ve already found a new one. It’s going to be much more exciting than my job with the local council ever was.

I’m sure I told you that my manager left at Easter and since then it’s not been the same; we used to have a laugh at work, not anymore!

Anyway, I start teaching English as a foreign language in Italy in June, which will suit me down to the ground. You know I’ve always wanted to live in Italy, don’t you? It’s going to be a real challenge but very rewarding too. I’ll be teaching both adults and teenagers and I can’t wait to begin.

I’m sure you’ll be amazed when you read this but I have started learning to play the guitar too.

You must remember how I hated music lessons at school, but this is so much fun

I hope you’ll be able to come and visit some time soon.

Keep in touch.

Steve

There are certain points you must remember when writing an IELTS informal letter with regards to:

  • Greetings and signing off
  • Opening and closing your letter
  • Paragraphs  
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Punctuation

I will guide you through each of these sections individually with tips and some set phrases that you can learn and adapt to suit the format of the letter that you are asked to write.

  1. Informal style greetings and signing off

Begin with Dear +  a first name

Example: Dear Sam,

IELTS Informal Letter Tips:

Do not write– Dear friend,

Give your friend a name. This also helps you to imagine that the situation is a real one and that you are writing to a real person.

You can sign off with one of the following:

  • Best wishes,
  • Give my best wishes/ regards/love to your family,
  • I hope to see you in …….
  • See you soon,
  • Take care of yourself,
  • I wish you all the best,
  • All the best,

Followed by:

Mary ( your first name only)

Tip: 

In the exam you should avoid signing off with:

  • Kisses,
  • Lots of love,
  • Emoticons

2. Opening and Closing your letter.

It’s important that you do not omit the opening and closing sentence or phrase, which indicates that the letter is going to end.

In an informal letter you can start by showing an interest in how the friend is doing or refer to an event they have mentioned before, or you can begin by mentioning something he or she told you in their previous letter to you.

IELTS Informal Letter Tip:

It is easier if you can imagine you received a letter from your friend and you are responding to it.

Example of an opening;

Dear Ann,

Thanks for your letter, it was so interesting to read/ hear about your new hobby/ job/ house and the photo you sent is absolutely amazing.

This can be followed by the reason for the letter according to the General IELTS exam question.

Opening your letter suggestions: 

  • I just thought I’d write to let you know that I finally quit my job ……
  • I’m writing to tell you about ……
  • I thought you might be interested to know/ hear that ….
  • I thought you would like to hear about …..

Closing your letter suggestions: 

  • I’m looking forward to hearing all about….
  • Write back soon with your news.
  • I can’t wait to hear all about ….
  • Let me know if you need…./ want…../ are able to visit etc

 

3. Paragraphs and Structure

You should organise your letter into 4 -5 paragraphs including the opening and closing. Before you start writing spend some time deciding how you will effectively structure the letter and carefully read each bullet point that you must include.

Think about where to put each point, i.e. Are 2 points connected? If they are connected they could be linked together in the same paragraph.

Look at the example question below. In this question, the points are not connected and it will be clearer if they are separate points in 3 paragraphs.

Bullet point 1 – Explain why you changed jobs

Bullet point 2  Describe your new job using a variety of descriptive adjectives to

Bullet point 3 – Talk about something else that has happened since you last wrote to your friend. It could be about a holiday or trip you went on or a special occasion such as a wedding you attended.

You have recently started working for a new company.

Write a letter to an English speaking friend. In your letter;

  • Explain the reasons why you changed jobs
  • Describe your new job
  • Tell him/her your other news

Dear Ben,

Thanks for your letter and the superb photos, It was great to hear all about your holiday and it sounds like you had a fantastic time in Rome.

I just thought I’d write to let you know that I finally quit my job and found a new one abroad. It will be much more exciting than my job with the local council ever was! I’m sure I told you that my manager left and since then it’s not been the same, we used to have a laugh at work, not anymore!

Anyway, I start teaching English as a foreign language in Italy in June, which will suit me down to the ground. You know I’ve always wanted to live in Italy, don’t you? It’s going to be a real challenge but very rewarding too. I’ll be teaching both adults and teenagers and I can’t wait to begin.

I’m sure you’ll be amazed when you read this but I have started learning to play the guitar too. You must remember how I hated music lessons at school, but this is so much fun

I hope you’ll be able to come and visit me sometime soon.

Keep in touch,

Steve

4. Grammar

Remember to use the active voice as it makes the letter sound more interesting.

Did you notice the different tenses in the active voice in the letter above?

Present simple to talk about facts – I start teaching in June

Present perfect to connect the past to the present -You know I’ve always wanted to …

Past simple to talk about an action that finished in the past- I quit my job

To talk about a habit in the past with ‘used to’  – We used to have a laugh

Future continuous to talk about an action that will be in progress in the future- I’ll  be teaching

Future simple for predictions ( especially after sure/ certain) – I’m sure you’ll be….

You can check out some more tips on IELTS grammar here.

5. Vocabulary

If you are aiming to get a high band, the requirements for ‘Lexical Resource’ are that you use a wide range of vocabulary to convey precise meanings and skillfully use uncommon lexical items.

What this means is that you must avoid using very simple words and repeating the same words in your letter. It’s your chance to show off what you know in just 150 words, so make every word count! Expressions and  words that we use when we speak in everyday conversation are  the kind of language you should be using, i.e. chatty and personal

6. Punctuation

In informal letter writing, you must use contracted forms. (e.g. I’d /  it’s / won’t, etc)

Remember to use a capital letter in the names of:

  • theatres, hotels, roads, streets and  avenues
  • countries, cities, languages and nationalities,
  • days and months and the names of holidays, but not seasons (seasons are not proper nouns in English)

Need tips on how to write an IELTS Formal Letter? Read here

IELTS Informal Letter Tip:

Another way to create an informal style is to use an occasional exclamation mark (!) to show strong feelings or surprise but do not use more than one in your 150-word letter.

I passed the IELTS writing with a band 7.0!

Final Tip: 

Remember to indent the paragraphs and always edit your writing carefully for spelling mistakes, which can lower your band overall, while attempting the IELTS Informal Letter. For more tips, check out Jay’s Six-Step Method here

Good luck and don’t forget to refer to the other E2 blogs for writing a formal and semi-formal letter too.

 

Written by Janet

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