There are two main types of General Training Task 1 assignments: letters to colleagues and other professionals, in which you must use formal language; and letters to friends, in which you must use informal language.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about writing an informal letter is that you still must follow the basic conventions of standard written English. You cannot write as if you were texting a friend, posting on an Internet forum, or celebrating with your gaming partners.
You are expected to:
- Have clear breaks between paragraphs (skip a line to avoid confusion).
- Use standard capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and spacing (word + no space + punctuation + one space + word).
- Write out full words rather than abbreviations, except where they are normally used (e.g., Mr. Smith).
- Avoid any form of text speak, slang spellings such as gonna and wanna, and emojis.
- Use grammatical elements such as verbs and pronouns correctly.
Band 7+: I hope you’re doing great. I‘m so glad to hear that you’re going to move to Auckland from Hyderabad.
Band 5-5.5: I hope ur doing great, i am so glad that you gonna move to auckland from Hyderabad.
Band 7+ You‘ll find that public transport is available everywhere in Toronto, which makes it really easy to get from one part of the city to another.
Band 5-6: You would find that Public Transport is available every where in toronto,which makes it really easy to get from one pt of the City to another.
On the other hand, to achieve a high score in a GT Task 1 letter to a friend, you must also ensure that your language is sufficiently informal. While this may sound extremely obvious, it is very common for responses to receive low scores because they sound more like business letters than notes to people the writer is friendly with.
If you come from a country or educational system in which tests are always associated with formal language, writing casually in a high-stakes exam may seem very strange to you. However, you need to remember that the purpose of the General Training module is to test your ability to use English appropriately in everyday situations, and that means using casual language when communicating with people you know well.
To be perfectly clear: Using unnecessarily fancy language in a letter to a friend will not impress your examiner. On the contrary, you will get low marks in Task Achievement and Vocabulary and almost certainly end up in Band 6 or below, even if your grammar and organization are strong.
While there is no exact formula for producing informal English, this type of writing normally has the following characteristics:
- Informal greetings (e.g., Hi or Dear + First Name)
- Informal linking devices (see first chart below)
- Contracted forms (it’s, I’ll).
- Phrasal verbs, particularly expressions with get.
- Informal idioms (e.g., hit the gym).
- Informal vocabulary (see second chart below). Avoid nouns ending in -tion and -ment.
- Exclamation points are acceptable.
*Note that one suggests or recommends (that) someone do something, e.g., I recommend you check out the new housing development on Acorn Street, NOT I recommend you to check out the new housing development on Acorn Street.
Now let’s look at some examples.
Hello Sara dear,
I am overjoyed to learn of your voyage to City X next month. We have not seen each other for such a protracted period, and thus I await your arrival with the greatest anticipation.
I’m so excited to hear that you’ll be coming to City X for a few days next month. I honestly can’t remember the last time we got together, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you!
The city provides a plethora of public transport; however, I believe that the metro is the most convenient option as it extends to nearly every neighborhood. Hence, you can reach your destination very quickly.
There are plenty of ways to get around the city, but the metro is probably the most convenient. It covers practically every neighborhood and will usually take you wherever you need to go in almost no time.
I believe it would be optimal if you sought accommodation in the Broad Street area, as it is very close to your office. Moreover, you will not need to waste time in traffic as this road is among the busiest in the city. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy wonderful shopping centers and renowned restaurants in this locality.
I know you’re looking for housing in the Broad Street area, and I think that area would be perfect for you! It’s close to your office, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time in traffic (the road can get really busy around rush hour). You won’t have to worry about finding things to do either: there are loads of really cool independent shops, and some fantastic restaurants have also opened up in the last few months.