Writing a letter of complaint | ESL lesson plan

The focus of the lesson: Developing functional literacy
Size of the class: 20 students
Age: 18 – 36 years old
Level: Intermediate / B1
Length of the lesson: 1.5 hours

Since the lesson is all about complaints a good lead-in will be asking students a few questions related to this topic. People like to complain, sometimes without a real reason.

Below is a letter sent by one friend of mine who rented a flat in Ho Chi Minh City. The letter is modified to meet the lesson requirements.

ESL lesson plan - writing a letter of complaint

Task 1
Skim the letter to get an idea of the topic and write in the notebook what the letter is about.

The teacher asks students to underline all the vocabulary words are unknown then check the meaning of unknown words in your dictionary or ask the teacher. Read the letter again

Matching parts of the letter with their correspondent functions
Below is a list of functions. Read the list of functions then write a number next to the parts of the letter which match these functions.

  1. Closing
  2. Writer’s signature
  3. Justification of complaint
  4. Writer’s address
  5. Date
  6. Request for action
  7. Greetings
  8. Identification of complaint


Answering questions
Read the letter again and answer the following questions in written form:

  1. What is Dennis complaining about?
  2. What justification does Dennis give for his complaint?
  3. What action does Dennis want Madam Hang to take?


Making notes before writing a letter of complaint
Before writing your own letter, make notes on a piece of paper.

  1. Which authority you will need to send your letter to
  2. Find out the name of the person you will need to sent your letter to
  3. Subject of the letter
  4. Content of the letter (main ideas very brief)
  5. Problem
  6. Details
  7. Action requested
  8. Closing phrases
  9. Yours


Writing a draft of the letter
Once the notes are written on a piece of paper students can start working on the first draft of the letter. Below is a list of words and expressions your students might find helpful in completing the task.

ESL lesson plan - expressions to help students writing a letter
Writing the final draft
Once the first draft is completed students discuss it in small groups, with whole class or with the teacher then write the final draft.

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