Techniques for formal letter writing and my CILS prep log for 29/04 - 05/01

Over the weekend, I completed a large number of flashcards to refresh my vocabulary. I also completed lessons 27 and 26 of Ascolto Avanzato missing only 1 point on lesson 26 and with a perfect score on 27. I also had a language exchange session with roughly 40 minutes of Italian.

Listening comprehension, as has always been the case for me, is one of my strongest skills in Italian. I also completed two letters. The first was a letter of complaint and the second “autocandidatura” for work. I think the way that I have chosen to go about the letter writing is pretty useful for people who are primarily self-directed learners without a full-time instructor that will correct their writing.

1.       Find a large number of example letters that cover the general types found on the exam. I did this via a Google search, specifically Google Images. These don’t have to be prefect but they should be written by native speakers. As long as a letter is a letter of complaint, it does not matter what the specific topic or complaint happen to be about.

2.       Ensure that you have at least two examples of each type of letter from the exam that meet the criteria of what you would expect to find on the exam. Total, though, you should have at least five examples of each type with two being very close to what you’d expect from the test.

3.       Begin your studies by copying the letters by hand word-for-word into a notebook. Start with a specific type (domanda di lavoro, for example) and copy all of the examples you have.

4.       Once you have copied them, go to a resource that actually teaches techniques for writing a formal letter and make sure you understand how the material taught relates to the examples you have copied.

5.       Pick out the examples you have found that relate most closely to the exam and blank out some of the key phrases that you have found common in the learning material as well as the example letters you have found. Give yourself no less than three days and no more than five days and then re-copy the letters filling in the blanks that you created.

6.       Then repeat step five again. Blank out even more of the letter and then give yourself at least seven days but no more than 10 and recopy the letters filling in all of the blank you have created in the letter. For clarity, you should keep the blanks from step five and add additional blanks.

7.       At this point, you should feel pretty comfortable with the structure of a formal letter. Go back to the learning material and complete any exercises that are given. You should also take a few examples form the test and attempt to complete them as you would be required to in the exam: pen and paper only! Only then should you type them out and post them to a language forum or service like Lang8.

Happy learning!

My OneNote notebook with material for this component of the exam: Lettere