Teach Your Students How to Write Letters of Inquiry
Students will write a letter of inquiry to ask for something specific or to ask for detailed information. Depending on the requested information or item, the recipient may not be motivated to respond quickly or at all. Students need to keep the tone of their letters friendly. Also, they need to make it very easy for the recipient of the letter to respond or to provide the requested information or items. A stamped, self-addressed envelope may need to be included with the letter.
Writing a Business Letter
Teachers need to review the proper format of a business letter with students. All text of a business letter should be aligned on the left margin. Paragraphs should not be indented. A business letter should include the following:
- Return address (Student's address)
- Name of recipient (first, last, and title)
- Address of recipient
- Salutation (Dear Mr./Mrs. Human: )
- Body of letter
- Closing (Sincerely,)
- Signature of writer
Format of a Letter of Inquiry
Students can follow this format when writing the body of the letter of inquiry:
- In the first paragraph, students should identify themselves. Since they are students, they can identify their school and any affiliations if applicable.
- In the second paragraph, students should briefly explain why they are writing. Next, they should show how they will use the requested information or items. It is important to always be concise and clear. Students should list the specific information needed. They may write their requests as questions. They can also list specific items of information needed or create bullet points.
- Last, students should conclude their letter by offering the recipient some incentive for responding quickly.
Preparation & Steps
PREPARATION: After teachers have reviewed the business letter format and the parts of the format of an inquiry letter, ask students to write a letter. If students are in high school, the teacher will need to book the computer lab so that students can type their letters.
Step 1: Brainstorm with students ideas or topics for a letter of inquiry. Students could inquire about jobs, grants, internships, college information, information for a research paper, etc.
Step 2: Direct students to write a rough draft using the business letter format.
Step 3: Assign students to write a final copy. Older students should type the letter.
This lesson is one that could be applicable in real life. It is surprising to find that many students do not know how to address a letter. Teachers may want to require that students address an envelope as well with this lesson.