FORMAL WRITING – HOW TO START
The question many of you might be asking yourselves when preparing for the written exam is where or how to start.
Many people think that formal writing in English is very difficult. The truth is it is easier than you think.
You probably already know what the exam looks like, I mean what the procedure, timing and tasks are, what is expected of you as far as language and skills are concerned. If you don’t, you can check it out here: https://www.stanagexpert.com/writing-exam-general-information/
I believe the following steps are a good start:
All the forms you can be asked to write at the exam are examples of formal writing, so it is important is to learn the difference between formal and informal writing. It is essential to learn the characteristics of the formal style in terms of grammar and useful phrases, for example, for opening or closing, greetings.
You need to know what forms of writing you can be asked to write and learn their structure and characteristics in terms of language and logic. In the case of STANAG 6001 level 3, you can be sure to write a formal report and a formal letter/e-mail or a memorandum.
It is essential to know what kind of skills you will be required to demonstrate, for example, the ability the ask for information, describe, generalise, invite, refuse, compare, etc. and learn the necessary fixed expressions and grammatical structures used for that purpose
It is useful to know how to check your own writing for correctness and the accuracy of content, in which case it is good to have a checklist to verify all the most essential elements of your piece of writing.
We’ll go through these steps here on the blog, so if you are interested, just click the link and subscribe to the newsletter to be informed by e-mail about a new post on this blog which usually appears once a week: http://bit.ly/stanagexpertnewsletter
HOW TO PRACTISE
The only way to train writing is to write, and then check your writing for correctness and content. But how to start?
It is good to begin by creating models of differnt forms of writing, for example, a model letter of invitation or an e-mail with a complaint, model memoranda or reports. Many of their elements are more or less universal. So you can use your models as frameworks by just changing their content.
It is also important to remember that at the STANAG exam, the topics usually are constructed in such a way so as to test different forms of writing in one go, so a letter will usually be a combination of a few types of letter with one paragraph devoted to an invitation and another to a complaint and a request for information. The same is true for reports and memos which may contain different types of reports and memos in one topic.
Paragraph is a basic element of any piece of writing, so before you start practising differnt forms of letters, memos and reports you need to learn how to develop an effective paragraph successfully.
1. Each paragraph should begin with a topics sentence which introduces the topic of the paragraph.
2. It is followed by so called body sentences which develop the topic, by providing, for example:
3. The paragraph should end with a final sentence which concludes the paragraph by:
offering a solution/recommendation
offering a warning and/or
leading on to the next paragraph
Read the following paragraph and see what function each sentence performs:
Obesity is becoming a significant problem nowadays.(1) According to experts, about
50 per cent of society members are overweight and another 15 per cent do not do any
physical exercises and admit eating unhealthy food.(2) This is connected with the fact that
people live on the run and do not have the time to properly plan and prepare their meals.
(3) Consequently, numerous cases of heart-related diseases have been reported in recent
years.(4) For instance, the number of people suffering from diabetes has increased by 10
per cent. (5) Therefore, it seems necessary to take some significant steps in order to limit
the development of this dangerous phenomenon immediately.(6) Otherwise, it might soon
be too late.(7)
Sentence (1) is the topic sentence which introduces the topic and summarises the whole paragraph.
Sentences (2) – (5) develop the main idea of the topic sentence by (2) offering data, (3) justification, (4) showing consequence, (5) and providing an example.
Sentence (6) and (7) are the final sentences which offer (6) a conclusion with a recommendation and (7) a warning.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Now, it’s time for you to practise paragraph development.
Follow the structure to create a paragraph on any topic. You can chose one of the proposed below.
topic sentence (1)
final sentence (7)
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