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This is phrase sheet for CAE students to help them tackle informal letters of recommendation, which sometimes come up in part 2 of the writing paper. Download the handout below:
A possible letter task in the CAE is an informal letter to a friend recommending (or not) a course/activity/holiday you have been on. Below is an example:
You have recently been on a two week adventure holiday in a foreign country. A good friend writes to you because they are thinking about booking a holiday with the same company. You should describe the highlights of the holiday and any problems you encountered and state if you would recommend the experience to your friend.
|Hello mate!||How’s it going?|
|What’re you up to nowadays?||Lovely to hear from you.|
|It’s been ages since we last saw each other.||I hope all’s well.|
Mixing good with bad
In the task you have to tell your friend about both the positive and negative sides of the activity. What I don’t want you to do is write one paragraph of good points and one of bad because who writes a letter like that? I want you to mix the good with the bad.
|Despite/In spite of + noun||Despite/In spite of + the fact that + clause|
|In spite of the dreadful weather (bad), we had a wonderful time. (good)||Despite the fact that it poured with rain all week (bad), we had a wonderful time. (good)|
|Although/Even though + clause||Apart from + noun + relative clause|
|Even though the instructor didn’t speak English (bad), we still managed to pick up the basics. (good)||Apart from the first day when it poured, we had clear blue skies every day.
Apart from the taxi driver who tried to rip us off, all the people were lovely.
|If you did decide to go, I could lend you…../I might come with you.||If I were you, I’d………..|
|If I were in your shoes, I’d………………|
|It would have been better if there had been…………||I would have been better if I had/hadn’t………………|
|If I had/hadn’t……………., we could have………….|
|Not only did we ….(do 1 activity), but also …….(another activity)||Not only did we learn how to ……….., but also ……………|
|Not only did we see lions and elephants, but also giraffes and monkeys.|
|To take up a hobby – to start doing a hobby
I have just taken up snowboarding.
|To make up for – to compensate
The excellent food more than made up for the awful weather.
|To pick up new skills – to acquire
I picked up some useful skills, such as……..
|To get a lot out of something – to take benefit from something. (enjoyment, knowledge, etc.)
I got a lot out of the training sessions.
|To catch up with someone – to share the latest news about your life with someone.
We should meet for a coffee and catch up.
|To come across – to find unexpectedly (not people)
We were walking through the jungle when we came across some old ruined buildings.
|To get on/along with someone – to like and be friendly with someone.
We got along with everyone in our group.
|To keep/carry on doing something – to continue
We kept on walking all night.
|Look/watch out for – be vigilant for
Look out for pickpockets on the metro system.
|Sort out a problem – resolve a problem
The manager came and sorted out the problem.