GT Writing letter 5: Explaining, suggesting (personal style)

A friend who is planning to visit you has asked you to describe the most interesting and enjoyable things to do in the community where you currently live.

Write an email to your friend, telling them about these things. In your email,
Say what these things are
Say why they are interesting/enjoyable
Suggest what you can do together

Begin your letter ‘Dear ——–’
Do not write any addresses
Write at least 150 words

Explanation of the Task

Recipient:If the task tells you to write to a friend, ask yourself what mood the friend would be in: are they upset (as in our previous letter) or excited (as in this situation)? This will make a difference to the way you write the letter. If the friend is probably excited, and you are planning things together, you can be more direct and less sensitive.

Style: The letter will be personal and cheerful.

Content: The task is asking you for explaining (what the things are and why they are enjoyable) and also suggesting (things to do when the friend visits.)

Band 9 model letter 5

Dear Nikolai,

Thanks for your email last week, and I’m so happy that you are arriving next weekend.

You asked about the interesting things to do around here. Well, firstly, we have the downtown area,which has many old cafés and bars, and some sights such as the statues and the colonial houses. Apart from that, there is the park, which has a theatre, more eating places, and an outdoor music venue. All in all, these places offer a lot of variety, with options for dining, sightseeing and good quality live entertainment, and all within an easy walk of the central area where I live.

Here is an idea. When you get here, let’s have an early night so that you get over the jet lag, and then go to the downtown area in the morning. We can have a traditional breakfast at one of the old cafés,and see some of the sights. Then we can see a show at the theatre, have dinner in the park if it’s sunny,and finally listen to the music in the outdoor arena. I think we might need another early night after sucha long day!

Please get in touch before the weekend just to let me know if that sounds ok, and also your flight number.

All the best,


(219 words)

Why is this a band 9 letter?

Recipient: The letter is addressed and concluded in a suitable way for a personal letter, and the candidate shows that he has a good relationship with the recipient (‘I’m so happy that you are arriving. . .’) The short, friendly phrase at the end fits naturally with the ideas in the letter.

Style: The personal style uses informal structures and vocabulary:
‘Thanks/well/apart from that/here is an idea/let’s’
(The equivalent phrases for a formal letter would be: ‘Thank you/therefore/In addition/if I may suggest/I suggest that we’)
Some of the vocabulary is more formal (‘colonial/venue/dining/traditional’) but in reality these would be used in this situation in a personal letter. The writer also shows that he can use informal
words to balance these (‘downtown, eating places, an easy walk, an early night, see the sights’) so the letter is convincing in its style.
‘Here is an idea’ is a good way to make a suggestion to a friend that you know well.

Content: The three content paragraphs are different sizes, and the middle paragraph is a bit too short,but it does explain why the amenities are interesting.
The candidate avoids the danger of the ‘suggesting’ paragraph becoming just a list, by using ‘When/then/finally/I think we might need,’ which makes it read like a logical sequence or narrative,not just a list of things in a sequence.

The details which the candidate has invented are easy to understand, and don’t rely on local knowledge to be clear.

If a task tells you to describe a place, always use names for streets, buildings etc in English.

For example, don’t write ‘There is an excellent theatre called the Cinco de Mayo’ even if you are thinking of a place in Spanish which has that name. Write ‘. . . called the Fifth of May Theatre’ and so on.

This is because the IELTS examiners do not like to see any language apart from English in Task 1 or Task 2, even for festivals, buildings, ceremonies etc, so you should always translate them into

If there is no direct translation, just create a suitable English name, for example ‘There is a big festival here called the National Spring Festival.’