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'Re: your pointless email'
lesson plan
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Another plan on e-mail conventions & hoaxes

Preliminary information

Time: 60-75 minutes??

Level: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Aims:
To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To provide stds with real world skills related to writing & sending e-mails
To extend the stds' store of vocab connected to 'e-mails'
To review conditional sentences
To give freer speaking practice

Assumptions:
That the stds use e-mails at home or work & will be interested in the topic
That the language in the text will not be too difficult & that it will provide useful ideas on dealing with e-mails, as well as useful vocabulary.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary may be challenging - have dictionaries on hand.

Aids:
The text used for the introduction taken from the article ' French consign 'email' to trash can'
The text for the main article 'Re: your pointless email'
Both taken from the Guardian Unlimited web site.

e-mail

Procedure

Stage 1 - Intro to the theme - running dictation

10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std

1. Put copies of the following text on the walls & divide the class into teams. Set up the running dictation - for information on this see the Tip 'Running Around'.
2. Activity - until there is a winner
3. Feedback - elicit ideas on the content of the text excerpt.

French consign 'email' to trash can

France is saying goodbye to "email" and hello to "courriel" - the term that the linguistically sensitive French government is now using to refer to electronic mail in official documents.
The culture ministry has announced a ban on the use of the word email in all government ministries, documents, publications or websites, in the latest step to stem an incursion of English words into the French lexicon.


Stage 2 - More sinking in to the theme

10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std

1. Put the following questions on the board:

a. Brainstorm all the vocabulary you know connected to 'e-mails'
b. Do you send e-mails? At home? At work?
c. How many do you usually send a day/ a week?
d. Have you ever regretted sending an e-mail? Why?

Stds in pairs/small groups discuss questions

2. Feedback - elicit vocab & put on the board at the side - to add to later on.


Stage 3 - Pre-reading task

1. Put the article headline & sub-line on the board:

'Re: your pointless email

Are you wasting hours of your time sending and managing too much worthless email? Jane Perrone provides ten top tips for how to stay on message'

2. Set the task - stds make a ten point list of how to 'stay on message' - or as many points as they can reasonably come up with.
3. Small group work.
4. Feedback - collate points on the board.


Stage 4 - Reading tasks

1. Set reading task - see if any of their points coincide with the points in the article - time limit: 1 minute.
2. Handout texts & stds read quickly.
3. Feedback - which points similar.
4. Comprehension task - stds answer the following questions:

A couple of questions:

1. What does the company 'Emphasis' do?

2. What does the article say about using humour in e-mails?

3. And being organised with your e-.mails?

4. And attachments?

5. And complaining about colleagues?

6. And how they are written?

7. What's the advice on sending mails if you're angry?

8. What attitude should you take towards other people's e-mails?

9. Which two points do you feel are the most important out of the ten?

Underline & then note down - with definition, part of speech, probable word stress etc. - any more words connected to e-mails that you can find in the article.

5. Individual reading
6. Stds compare answers
7. Feedback - clarify any doubts along the way. Get the stds to add their new 'e-mail words' on the board (there are lots of them!) - clarify form, meaning & phonology.
8. You could go on to look at specific language areas in the text, such as conditionals.


Stage 5 - Follow up activities

- using blank e-mail papers, get the stds to write each other e-mails & then give each other advice on how to write them better. Or begin by giving out several dubious e-mails & ask the stds to look at them & mark them according to the ten points in the article.

- discuss - 'E-mails have dumbed down writing expectations & abilities'

Re: your pointless email

Are you wasting hours of your time sending and managing too much worthless email? Jane Perrone provides ten top tips for how to stay on message

Wednesday July 23, 2003

Pointless email messages are costing UK businesses millions of pounds a year, according to new research by business writing consultants Emphasis.
It's not a surprising conclusion, considering that Emphasis makes a living teaching employees how to make effective use of email. But there's little doubt that for many workers email has become a preoccupation that distracts them from the job in hand. As Emphasis senior consultant Robert Ashton puts it:

"Just because email is free, that doesn't mean it's cheap."

So how does one navigate the minefield of workplace email communication? After more than a decade of using email, I have established my personal email diktat:

1. Think before you send every email: would it be quicker, more efficient, and more friendly to phone or even walk over to the person and talk to them in person?

2. If you're emailing Doris in accounts, don't cc your message to everyone in the company just so you can share your razor-sharp witticism about P60 forms with 200 people. It wastes bandwidth (a measure of the amount of data that can be transmitted by your email network at any time), clogs up other peoples inboxes and ultimately, isn't that funny. In fact, people will hate you for it.

3. Don't let your email inbox overflow. Try to deal with every email as soon as possible by responding to the message, deleting it, flagging it for attention later or filing it away.

4. Don't send email attachments unless you absolutely have to. They eat up bandwidth and often can't be opened by other people. Could you place the document on a server that everyone can access or add the text to the body of the email instead?

5. Don't forward every "hilarious" jpeg/virus warning/chain letter you receive from friends to everyone in your address book. If it's a virus warning it's probably a hoax, and if it's that funny, most people will already have seen it. If you must, limit your forwards to a few close friends and clearly mark your email as frivolous spam in the subject line. People will begin ignoring every email that you send - including the important ones - if you bombard them with spam.

6. Always include an informative subject line in your email: this helps your colleagues to locate it in their inbox and gives them an idea of how important it is, so they can read the message marked "your pay rise" before the one called "has anyone seen my X Files mouse mat?"

7. Try to avoid bitching about colleagues to other members of staff via emails: the old adage applies: if you wouldn't write it on a postcard, don't write it in an email. Many firms monitor staff email usage and you never know when someone could be reading messages over your shoulder. And it is all to easy to hit the reply button rather than forward and end up sending your rant to the very person you are moaning about.

8. Before you fire off an angry email to someone, save the message on draft and take half an hour (or a day if you're really angry) to let yourself cool down. Then take another look at the message and decide whether to send or delete it.

9. Make every email you send count: don't rush a message off in 10 seconds. Spelling mistakes, sloppy grammar and half-formed sentences make you look slapdash. Having said that, each company has its own unwritten rules about the degree of formality required in electronic communications: work out what they are and follow them.

10. And finally, be forgiving of colleagues' email faux pas. If a colleague sends you an email that you deem to be rude, just remember that tone is completely lost in electronic communications, and it may be that they were trying to be funny or simply rushed off a message in a moment of anger and instantly regretted it.


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Another plan on e-mail conventions & hoaxes

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