Top Tips for IELTS

IELTS letter – a work placement

This is the next in my series of sample IELTS letters. In this lesson, you will find advice on addressing all the parts of the question, how to write in paragraphs in a letter, getting the tone right and writing notes on the language used in my letter.

Understanding the question

When you read this question you should note how it asks you to include three separate points. If you don’t include all these points in your letter, you will be heavily penalised. A sensible approach is to underline the key ideas in the question before you start writing – to remind yourself to include them. You should also aim to write a paragraph about each point so that it is clear that you have addressed the whole task.

You have worked for a company for a short time during your college course.Write a letter to the head of department thanking him . You should:

  • thank the head of department
  • explain how this has helped you
  • say what your future plans are

Writing in paragraphs

Letters should use paragraphs. The way you do this though is slightly different from an essay in that your paragraphs may well be much shorter. The key idea is to let the reader know exactly what you are writing about by setting your ideas out as clearly as possible.

Topping and tailing – how you start and how you end

One special thing about letter paragraphs is how you start and end the letter. In my sample letter, you will see how I have “topped and tailed “my letter by saying thank you once at the beginning and once at the end. This is normal practice. All you have to do is to decide what the main function of the letter is and start and finish the letter by saying that. Here we have what is really a thank you letter, so the pattern is:

I am writing to thank you… Thank you once again for…..

Be clear in the first sentences of each paragraph

This part is really exactly the same as in an essay. when you start your paragraph, you should make the main point clear in your first sentence. This is because people tend to read letters quickly and want to know what is being said immediately. Here I have used:

It was a most rewarding experience and I certainly learnt much during my time in the engineering department. (explanation of how the work placement helped from the question)

and

As for the future, I am now convinced that I would like to pursue a career in this field when I graduate. (what my future plans are from the question)

Getting the tone right – formal but friendly

Before you start writing you want to think about the tome of your letter. This one needs to be quite formal as it is a business letter and is written to someone in a position of responsibility that you probably don’t know that well. This means you want to get the simple formal things right by using “I would like” and not “I want”. You also want to try to make the letter quite friendly, although the extent you do this may depend on the culture you live in. One tip here is to include personal pronouns I and you and add personal details to make it more friendly.

The sample letter

I am writing to thank you for the opportunity you gave me to work at Innovations and Cybernetics Inc this summer.

It was a most rewarding experience and I certainly learnt much during my time in the engineering department. While I had a fairly good theoretical knowledge of design and production from my studies at Melville Polytechnic, I believe I now understand  the practicalities of these processes much better. This is not least due to the daily feedback sessions with John Perkins which were extremely helpful in showing me the best way to tackle design problems in a work environment.

As for the future, I am now convinced that I would like to pursue a career in this field when I graduate. I very much enjoyed the experience of being part of a team involved in designing solutions to everyday problems. Indeed, it would be ideal if I could come at work at Innovations and Cybernetics should a position be available.

Thank you once again for this work placement and I hope to keep in contact with you in the future.

Language notes

opportunity and chance: these are two very similar words. Opportunity is the better word here as there is no luck involved. You may also note that the words job and opportunity frequently go together.

a most rewarding experience: you may have learnt that experience is an uncountable word (not used with a/n), but that is not always correct. We can use an experience when we are talking about about a particular time. You should also note rewarding here which is an extremely useful word to describe jobs you like .

fairly good and extremely helpful: note the word pattern of adverb/adjective – this is something we use a lot in english when we qualify ideas. These adverbs (including most above) are useful variations of very.

practicalities: you may know the word practical, but can you use all of its forms including practicalities? It really does help to learn all the forms of a word.

pursue a career in: this is a useful (and slightly more formal) phrase for work as. Again, you should note how it helps to not just learn the word career, but to learn which words it goes with.

it would be ideal if: this is a neat (and more formal) way of saying

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3 Responses to IELTS letter – a work placement

  1. Maryam Fayez February 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    It is just wonderful to be involved with your emails… It is so similar to be in a high level class and enjoying a superb prof. Thank you indeed.

  2. noor March 20, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    hello ..I am so impressed with your website
    well …I want to ask you
    can I start the letter with ( dear sir) ?
    I am waiting your response

    • Dominic Cole March 20, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      There are different conventions here. If we know the name,typically we use the name. We normally only go Dear sir if we don’t have a name. You should also note that the standard British convention is that if you start Dear Sir, you finish Yours Faithfully. I shall put this on my list of lessons to do – quite a long list!

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