Teaches students the art of writing an effective business letter by writing to actual businesses with a compliment and/or a complaint.
Text book with a sample business letter format or a teacher handout with a sample business letter format.
To help my students understand the importance of writing an effective business letter, we write actual letters to businesses.
- Students are to think of a product or service they like or have had a problem with. (Students may write either a letter of compliment, letter of complaint or both–but obviously not to the same company.)
- They then use the correct business letter format to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the product or service.
- It is important that the students use these steps in the body of the complaint letter:
- Begin with something positive about the product.
- State very specifically what the problem is. (Do not say “The jeans I bought are a piece of junk.” But rather say “The inside seam of the jeans frayed out, and now they have a three inch hole.”
- Tell them exactly what you expect them to do about the problem. Be realistic–do not ask for a new bicycle if your problem is only with the bicycle seat. Asking them to replace the seat would be reasonable.
- Enclose any receipts, product codes or numbers, proof of purchases, or any other identifying materials.
- Close by stating your confidence in their company’s desire to “make it right.”
Please advise your students not to write in an effort to receive free “stuff.” Most companies can sniff those letters out immediately. Only write with a legitimate complaint or compliment.
- Students use their home address as the return address and in the heading. Therefore, the return letters come to their homes.
- Each student is to provide his/her own stamp. I usually provide stamps for some students for whom I know this will be a problem. For the most part, the students are very good about bringing in their own stamps.
- I grade the letters on the use of proper business letter format, spelling, grammar, effectiveness, and following directions (on a separate rubric).
- Then, I mail all the letters to assure they do make into the mail.
This has been an EXCELLENT activity for my classes (I’ve used it in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.) It’s a lot of fun for the students to get replies back from the companies. We make a bulletin board and post all the return letters so the other students can see the replies.
Some receive coupons or replacement products. Some have received stickers or advertising paraphernalia. I did have one student who received a replacement pair of jeans and a T-shirt for her trouble. Her mother phoned to thank me for teaching her daughter how to be a good consumer! So students learn not only how to write an effective business letter, but also how to be a conscientious consumer.
Grade Level(s): 6-8
By: Carol Hudson, 6th and 8th grade teacher
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