How to write an email in CELPIP
When you prepare for CELPIP Writing task 1, your focus should be on writing well, expressing yourself efficiently, and ticking the examiners boxes.
Your examiner will be looking at your organization, vocabulary, phrasing, sentence variety, grammar, punctuation, and tenses.
Read and Understand the Question
To understand how to write an email in CELPIP, the first thing you need to do is read and internalize the question. The question tells you what to write about and identifies three things that you must include in your email. The question may ask you to complain, advise, request, or share.
A typical complaint question looks like this:
The heating in your apartment isn’t working and it has been cold all winter. Write to your building manager. In your email you should:
* explain the problem
* describe the impact
* request remediation
“…I understand much better now…”
How long should my response be?
As part of familiarizing yourself with how to write an email in CELPIP, you need to know how long your response should be and how long you have to write it. You have about 30 minutes to write your response, and it should be between 150 – 200 words.
You should try to keep your word count between those numbers. Being able to express yourself efficiently is part of the test, so you should be able to say everything you need to say in about 200 words. The examiner won’t penalize you if you need a few more words to make your point, but you may be penalized for writing 250 words because that shows your examiner that you don’t write efficiently.
How should I start my email?
When preparing for CELPIP Writing Task 1, it is important that you understand when to use a formal or an informal salutation and style. You should always start your email with a salutation.
If the email is formal, you should start with ‘Dear Sir’ or the person’s last name – ‘Dear Mr. Smith’. When the question identifies someone who is not your friend or family member, you should use a formal salutation.
If the email is informal, you should start with the person’s first name ‘Dear Mike’. When the question identifies someone who is your friend or family member, you should use an informal salutation.
What is the difference between a formal and an informal email.
A formal email is the email you write to someone who is neither a friend nor a family member. The email should start with ‘Dear Sir’ and end with ‘Regards’ and your full name ‘Sam Bennet’.
In a formal email, you mustn’t use contractions. Write ‘it is’ not it’s, write ‘will not’ not ‘won’t’.
Use the formal form of words. Write ‘children’ not ‘kids’, write ‘delighted’ not ‘happy’.
An informal email is the email you write to a friend nor a family member. The email should start with the person’s name, i.e. ‘Dear Mike’ and end with ‘Thanks’ and your first name ‘Sam’.
In an informal email, you must use contractions. Write ‘it’s’ not ‘it is’, write ‘won’t’ not ‘will not’.
Use the informal form of words. Write ‘kids’ not ‘children’, write ‘happy’ not ‘delighted’.
How should I format my email?
Your email should have three paragraphs.
In the first paragraph, identify the purpose of the email and give your reader an overview.
The first paragraph of a complaint letter, using the question above, might look like this:
I am writing to draw your attention to a heating issue in my apartment. Having mentioned the problem, in apartment 237, to your maintenance crew several times, and having received nothing but empty promises, my feelings of frustration are rapidly rising.
In this sample red identifies the purpose and blue identifies the overview.
Leave a line space before your second paragraph.
In the second paragraph, elaborate on the problem beginning with a topic sentence that tells your reader what the paragraph is about.
Your second paragraph might look like this:
Our heating issues began in the late fall when chilly evenings set in, and our attempts to turn up the heat proved futile. Feeling sure that this was a temporary problem, we simply pulled on sweaters and added extra blankets to our beds. However, as the temperatures continued to drop, our concerns grew, and we asked a member of your maintenance crew to come and take a look at it.
In this sample red identifies the topic sentence and blue identifies the elaboration
Leave a line space before your third paragraph.
In the third paragraph, request remediation. In other words, tell the building manager what you want him to do about your problem.
Start with a topic sentence telling your building manager what the paragraph is about, and then elaborate on a possible solution.
Your third paragraph might look like this:
The temperature outside is now -30˚C and inside +5˚C thanks to an abundance of space heaters that our neighbours have been generous enough to lend to us. Obviously, this situation is unacceptable, and so we ask that you give the matter your prompt attention. Temporarily moving to a vacant apartment in the building while the heating is being fixed would be a welcome alternative.
Using the subjunctive in this paragraph highlights the urgency of your request.
we ask that you give the matter your prompt attention
How to write your salutation
Leave a line space before your salutation and follow it with a comma.
Leave a line space before your name and follow it with your first and last name.
Your salutation should look like this: