Free EFL/ESL Writing Lesson Plan: How to Write a Persuasive E-Mail or Letter


Many EFL/ESL students have problems when it comes to writing a persuasive letter or e-mail in English. Teaching how to write persuasively doesn’t have to be difficult though, in fact it can be fun. If your EFL/ESL students are having problems learning how to write persuasive letters, e-mails or even reports, follow this free easy EFL/ESL lesson plan, and you’ll notice their writing skills improve quickly.

Expected Outcomes – EFL/ESL students will be able to write a short e-mail or letter using a persuasive tone, with the hope that they will get the outcome they are looking for.

Materials and Resources – Handout on six rules for writing a persuasive letter, white board markers, computer.

Teaching Procedures –

Step One: First of all, ask your students what they think a persuasive letter or e-mail is. If no-one can answer correctly, explain what the verb ‘to persuade’ means and then see if they can figure out what a persuasive letter or e-mail is.

Step Two: Normally, at this point, with my corporate EFL/ESL students, I ask them what their success rate is in getting clients to respond to requests via e-mail. I usually find that the success rate is very low as they don’t know how to write an e-mail/letter using a persuasive tone.

Step Three: Distribute the hand out you have prepared showing the six rules for a persuasive e-mail or letter (there are more, but I condensed it down to the most important rules as this makes it easier for EFL/ESL students of many levels to be able to understand).

The six rules are:

1) Remember, you and the person you are writing to are on the same side, you are not enemies. So use a tone that is polite, respectful and will persuade the person you are both working towards the same goal.

2) Keep in mind your target audience ie: your tone should be different if you are writing to a CEO or writing to a subordinate. But be polite for both.

3) Mention why it’s a ‘good idea’ for the person to do what you want them to do eg: “If you return the paperwork to me on time, I can process it before the deadline thus preventing you from receiving a financial penalty”.

4) Mention why it’s a ‘bad idea’ to not do what you’re asking them to do eg: “If we don’t receive this on time, the financial penalty will begin at $200 and go up to $1,000, depending on when it is finally processed”.

5) Always write in the present tense – writing in the past makes people think it’s too late to change anything and writing in the future psychologically makes them think they have plenty of time to deal with it so can put it off.

6) Always write the e-mail with a tone that assumes they will say “yes”, and because of this, they usually do.

Step Four: Now you have gone through all the rules, put your students in a group around the computer or at the whiteboard and assign them a short persuasive e-mail to write. Tell them you will write down or type exactly what they tell you to, and then will edit as you go to give them better suggestions and explain why (making sure you follow the six rules you just gave them).

Step Five: At the end of class, you will have a short persuasive e-mail that your students can use as a good example of how to write one. I’ve discovered my students learn a lot if they write the e-mail along with me and then I make changes telling them why I’m doing so. You can then print out the e-mail if done from your computer so they have an example of a persuasive piece of writing.

Evaluation and Assessment – 1) Students shoudl be able to ask or answer questions and seem to understand the basic six rules 2) Students should be able to participate in the e-mail writing exercise.

This free EFL/ESL lesson plan on persuasive writing can also be adapted for lower level students are for high-intermediate or advanced level students. I’ve used it for low-intermediate students and advanced EFL/ESL students and each class has been able to understand it and participate.

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