As students enter junior high and high school, it’s time for them to learn how to write a business letter. Whether writing to a company to offer praise for a product or addressing a city councilman about a neighborhood eyesore, using a more formal business-letter format adds credibility to the sender’s request, position, or opinion.
In WriteShop II, we teach students how to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. The example composition in the student workbook urges the governor, by way of a letter to the editor, to take action on a bill. With a few word changes, the letter could just as easily address the governor himself.
The point of the lesson, of course, is to help students articulate a concern and seek or suggest action. The audience can be a member of any political, social, or commercial group as long as the student is learning how to address such a person with polite conviction.
Who’s the Audience?
But if your teens need an audience for their letters, and the daily newspaper isn’t the outlet that seems to work for them, you might suggest a different audience. Some ideas that spring to mind:
- City council member
- State legislator
- State representative
- Owner or developer of a property (eyesore, maintenance issues, health or safety concerns…)
- Owner of a local business
- President or CEO of a corporation
- College or university admissions department
- Chamber of Commerce (to request brochures or travel information)
If you shift away from the letter to the editor and instead have your students address their letter to one of the above-suggested recipients, consider teaching them how to format a business letter. Since WriteShop doesn’t teach business-letter structure, this would be an added tool in their writing belt.
When to Write a Business Letter
- To praise a product, service supplier, or staff person
- To compliment a speaker
- To compliment or praise an author
- To praise someone for an achievement
- To complain about poor product quality or poor service
- To ask for political or social action or change
- To write a letter of recommendation
- To request information
Would you like to teach the business letter to your kids? Here’s a link to a site that models several kinds: WriteExpress.com (Business Letters)