Number one for English language teachers

Writing skills: Letter of complaint

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Teaching notes

To encourage the use of phrases which express attitude and emotion in a factual letter.

Time: one hour, with extended language work and homework.

Target language: phrases which express attitude and emotion; phrases of place and direction; collocations connected to road safety 

Materials: Letter of complaint lesson plan, found under 'Related resources' below

Teacher's notes and lesson steps:

  1. As a warm up exercise, start the lesson by one student describing the diagram on ‘Dangerous Road’ and their partner trying to draw it. (Fold the handout over so you can’t see the vocabulary exercise). This is a fun start, which will aid comprehension in step 4. Alternately describe the diagram yourself for all to draw. Check for differences.
  2. Hand out ‘Dangerous Road’ and complete the vocabulary exercise.
  3. Explain that all the phrases come from a letter. Ask students in pairs to decide who wrote the letter, to whom and about what. (A mother of two small children, to The Road and Safety Department of the Local Council, complaining about a dangerous stretch of Road, near where she lives.) Say that you are now all going to read the letter, but that it is jumbled up and has gaps in it.
  4. Hand out the ‘Jumbled Letter’ and allow time to fill in the gaps with the vocabulary from step 2. Monitor and, when individuals are ready, hand out ‘Language Analysis’ (the first instruction being to order the sentences). Monitor and check as they work through it. Students may want to pair up to compare answers as they finish.
  5. The ‘Language Extension’ exercise is optional and can be done individually, or, to change the pace, as a class. Make it into a game by providing teams with counters to place in the right ‘emotion box’ for each phrase, as they are revealed on an OHP / read out (keep the counter for correct answers etc.).
  6. Consolidate step 5 by completing the sentences with the correct phrase.
  7. Hand out ‘Writing Practice’ for homework.

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Hello
    I used this resource today with my Upper Intermediate students. It's a great resource, but they needed a lot longer to complete the activities.
    I would say it would be too hard for an Intermediate class.
    As we were running out of time, we skipped the activity where sts had to rearrange the sentences... and went on to the extension activity with set phrases to use in letter writing.

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  • Hello Notting Hill Girl,

    Thank you very much for your feedback. It's always useful to hear how our resources work with our teachers in practice. Thank you for passing on this advice!

    Best wishes,

    The onestopenglish team

  • Hello

    I am unable to access the lesson plan above. When I click on the link it comes up as error. I could access it last week. Wonder if something can be done? Many thanks

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  • Hello,

    Thank you very much for your comment. We are sorry you are having trouble accessing this resource. It appears to be working OK at our end, however, we are currently looking further into this to see what the issue may be and how it can be fixed.

    Best wishes,

    The onestopenglish team

  • We've had a look at the lesson plan and agree that the word should be 'alternatively' rather than 'alternately' so it has been amended.
    Apologies for any inconvenience!
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Agree with Sheila about alternately/alternatively.
    Railings etc. - well, I can use that to show FCE / CAE students the pitfalls of not being terribly logical, but no doubt they will inform me.
    On the whole, I like the resource and will try it out with a class this week.

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  • "Alternately" is the first word in the jumbled text exercise. Unless its use has changed lately (I live abroad and have been caught out in the past), it can't be used in this way: it should surely be "alternatively", shouldn't it? Even then, the sentence wouldn't be terribly logical as railings certainly wouldn't affect average vehicle speeds and a zebra crossing probably wouldn't, either.

    Needless to say, I won't be using this resource.

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  • The printable lesson plan for this lesson can be found under the 'Related resources' link above.
    The onestopenglish team

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  • You can write down in the search area the keyword "complaint" and you will find the printable file :)

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  • This page is in error. The actual lesson plan materials do not not appear for printing. Or maybe I am a bit dim.

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