Posted in Writing Classes

CAE Informal Letter Task: An Exotic Holiday

Image credit: www.afripotsafari.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a writing task for CAE students in which they write an informal narrative letter describing an exotic holiday. It is a follow up lesson to my Travelling: Expressions and Discussions lesson as it gives students the opportunity to use the expressions in context. It was designed with students in the latter stages of their studies for the exam in mind as it contains revision of advanced grammar structures such as inversions, participle clauses and cleft sentences. Download the students’ handout, worksheet and teacher’s notes below you will also need the two quizlet sets to revise the vocab:

Informal narrative letter update – students’ handout

Informal Letter Worksheet – students’ worksheet

Narrative Informal Letter Teachers notes

Quizlet sets: Travelling expressions + Travelling collocations

Narrative Informal Letter – Exotic Holiday Teacher’s Notes

Lead in

Write on the board:

  1. What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever been to?
  2. What did you do there?
  3. Would you recommend it? Why? Why not?
  4. What advice would you give to someone who was going there for the first time?

Students discuss in pairs. Go to open class, students share exotic destinations, activities and advice.

Task Analysis

Give out student handout. Students read task and underline the 4 things they must include in their letter

Task

You have recently been travelling in an exotic country. Your friend has written to you because they are thinking about visiting the same place. Write them a letter describing the highlights of your trip, you should also mention any problems you encountered, say whether or not you would recommend the place and give your friend advice for their trip.

Students complete paragraph plan

Paragraph Plan

  1. Standard informal email opening
  2. Describe highlights
  3. Mention problems
  4. Recommend or not + give advice
  5. Sign off

Brainstorm – Informal letter opening + sign off

As a class brainstorm standard opening and closing expressions for informal letters:

Opening Closing
It’s wonderful to hear from you again.

It’s been ages since we last saw each other.

How have you been?

What have you been up to?

Sorry for not writing back sooner, I’ve been snowed under with schoolwork/exams/work.

So you wanted to know about…. Well…

Anyway, I’d better get going as I have an early start in the morning.

Well, it’s getting late and I’ve gotta get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

Hugs and kisses

Lots of love

Send my love to ….

Briefly run through the language on the handout for sequencing etc. Students read and field any questions or doubts they might have. We will look at the advanced grammar next.

Worksheet – Collocations and Advanced Grammar

Collocations

Give out the worksheet. Students match the collocations. Use the quizlet set to drill/reinforce with games.

Key: 1-h, 2-b, 3-d, 4-a, 5-e, 6-f, 7-g, 8-c

Advanced Grammar

This section is revision of several advanced grammar structures that can be used in compositions with a narrative element.

Key:

Just as we had got on the helicopter it took off.

No sooner had we got on the helicopter than it took off.

As soon as we had left the jeep we were surrounded by different types of monkeys!

Hardly had we left the jeep when we were surrounded by different types of monkeys.

We went scuba diving and spear fishing.

Not only did we go scuba diving but also spear fishing.

We had no idea that there were man-eating sharks in the water.

Little did we know that there were man-eating sharks in the water.

I enjoyed the safari the most.

What I enjoyed most was the safari.

It was the safari that I enjoyed most.

I had never seen such a spectacular sunset before.

Never before had I seen such a spectacular sunset.

The road was so wet that we had to turn back and go a different way.

So wet was the road that we had to turn back and go a different way.

The gorilla was so strong that he broke the window of the jeep!

So strong was the gorilla that he broke the window of the jeep!

Revision – Travelling expressions

Use the quizlet sets to recap the travelling expressions using the scatter game.

https://quizlet.com/122267420/travel-collocations-flash-cards/

https://quizlet.com/122237779/travelling-expressions-flash-cards/

 

Students’ Handout

Task

You have recently been travelling in an exotic country. Your friend has written to you because they are thinking about visiting the same place. Write them a letter describing the highlights of your trip, you should also mention any problems you encountered, say whether or not you would recommend the place and give your friend advice for their trip.

Paragraph Plan

  1. Standard informal email opening
  2. __________________________
  3. __________________________
  4. __________________________
  5. Sign off

Past narrative tenses

Past simple – finished actions in the past, actions in sequence.

I breathed in deeply and stepped out of the plane into the air.

Past continuous – descriptions/actions in progress interrupted by past simple actions.

The pale winter sun was shining through the leaves of the trees, the birds were singing happily and the wind was whistling past.

As the balloon was rising into the sky I looked down at the people below me.

Past perfect – actions that happened before a specific moment in the past.

I looked out over the landscape, I had never seen such a beautiful sight before.

I took the map out and checked our location. I had marked all the most important places on it the night before.

Past perfect cont. – duration of time for an action that happened before a specific moment in the past.

When we finally reached the summit of the mountain we had been walking for over 6 hours.

I had been dreaming about taking to the skies in a hot air balloon since I was a child.

Sequencing

At first/To start with/In the beginning…………..

Then/next/after that/…………………

The next thing that happened was…………….

The next thing I knew was………………

Seconds/Minutes later………………

Later on/Some time later……………..

It wasn’t until much later that…………..

After some time/what seemed like years…………

Finally/In the end……………..

At last,…………..

I was just about to (infinitive) when……….

I was on the point of (gerund) when………..

 

Sudden/unexpected events.

Out of the blue……………

Like a bolt from the blue………

Completely unexpectedly……………

Just as I was least expecting it…………..

Looking back

In retrospect……………

When I think back to that day………..

Looking back on that day………….

 

Rapid events

In the blink of an eye………….

As quick as a flash…………..

Simultaneous events

Meanwhile, In the meantime……….

While all this was going on…………

Ways to say exciting/excited:

exhilarating/exhilarated

adrenalin rush

thrilling/thrilled

Scary/scared

petrifying/petrified

terrifying/terrified

frightening/frightened

Nervous

on edge

I had butterflies in my stomach

nerve-racking/nail-biting (to describe the activity)

Difficult

Tough

Hard

Challenging

Phrasal verbs:

take up a challenge (accept)

set off on a journey/adventure (start)

freak out (get very scared and nervous)

Describing the weather:

A scorching summer day

A freezing winter day

A crisp winter day

A howling wind was blowing

A light breeze was blowing

The sun was beating down on us

It was pouring with rain

The heavens opened (it started to rain very hard)

 

Grammatical Range – SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW!

Inversions:

No sooner had I got on the board, than I fell off.

Hardly had the plane left the ground when I started to feel sick.

Only when/Not until two days later did I appreciate how much danger I had been in.

On no account must you leave the car during the safari.

Little did I know that there were man-eating sharks in the water.

At no time did I stop screaming with fear and delight.

Never before had I seen such breath-taking views.

Never before had I felt so alive.

 

So + adjective/adverb + verb + subject

So clear was the water that you could see right to the bottom.

So delicious was the dessert that we went back for seconds.

Participle clauses:

Being a strong swimmer, I had no problem in the strong currents.

Having studied French at school, I was able to get by speaking to the locals.

Seeing the Lion running towards me, I panicked and got back in the jeep.

 

Cleft Sentences

I liked the rollercoasters the most.

What I liked most was the rollercoasters.

It was the rollercoasters that I liked the most.

 

Inverted conditionals

Were I to go again, I’d pack more warm clothes.

Had I known it was going to be so cold, I would have packed warmer clothes.

Had I not seen the warning sign, I would have jumped into the crocodile lake.

Had it not been for + noun

Had it not been for the guide, we would have got completely lost!

 

Students’ Worksheet

Impressive Vocabulary

Match to make impressive collocations

1.       Breath-taking /Jaw-dropping/mind-blowing

2.       Mouth-watering

3.       Mile upon mile of

4.       Death-defying

5.       Baffling/bewildering

6.       Crystal clear/ice-cold

7.       Densely-populated/Bustling

8.       World-famous/internationally-renowned

a.       Activities/sports

b.      Local delicacies

c.       Monuments/attractions

d.      Golden sands/rolling hills

e.      Local traditions/customs

f.        Water

g.       City/metropolis

h.      Views/landscape

Impressive Grammar

Transform the sentences to use impressive grammar structures

Just as we had got on the helicopter it took off.

No sooner _________________________________________________________

As soon as we had left the jeep we were surrounded by different types of monkeys!

Hardly__________________________________________________________

We went scuba diving and spear fishing.

Not only _____________________________________________________________

We had no idea that there were man-eating sharks in the water.

Little___________________________________________________________

I enjoyed the safari the most.

What________________________________________________.

It____________________________________________________.

I had never seen such a spectacular sunset before.

Never before _______________________________________________________.

The road was so wet that we had to turn back and go a different way.

So____________________________________________________________

The gorilla was so strong that he broke the window of the jeep!

So______________________________________________________________

Advertisements

Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s