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EFL - ESL activities and games for writing a cover letter

This upper-intermediate ESL lesson plan is the second of three lessons on the theme of 'profession'. It contains activities, games and resources for teaching English students how to write a cover letter for a resume.

Lead-in activity

Compare and contrast the characteristics of formal and informal writing with your students and try to elicit examples of each point.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for writing a cv cover letter | Upper-intermediate

ESL activities for writing a cover letter

The professional

Students review the function and purpose of a CV cover letter before writing one for themselves.

For the first part of this activity, elicit the different parts of a CV, the kind of information contained in each and add it to the board. In the end, your board may look like the following:

Personal profile, education, work experience, skills, interests, references.

Next, discuss the type of information contained in each section. For adult classes, draw on the students' experiences and talk about the expectations and structure of a CV as it relates to their culture. For less experienced groups, discuss what they think each section contains.

Moving on from that, confirm that the students understand the purpose of a cover letter. Try to arrive at the following two objectives:

1. To secure a job interview.
2. To convince the employer to read your CV.

Tell your students that for their next activity, they will be writing a cover letter. Try to elicit as much as possible of the following structure and add it to the board for your students to copy.

Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms. ___ ] or [Sir/Madam] when we don't know who we are addressing.

Who you are and what you are currently doing.
Why you are writing.

Skills and motivation
Why you are perfect for this job.
Why you want it.

Thank the reader. Call to action: Request an interview or follow-up phone call.


The perfect opportunity

Students will work in groups to create cover letters for some unusual positions.

Start by discussing the following genuine job titles and the required skills and experience needed for each. After that, assign each one to a group and have them write the perfect cover letter.

Dog surfing instructor: People you pay to teach you and your dog to surf.
Professional cuddlers: Can charge up to $80 an hour to snuggle with strangers.
Dog food taster: Hired by pet food companies to test the quality of their products. They usually spit out the food once they taste it.
Fortune cookie writer: Fortune cookie manufacturers usually hire freelancers or in-house writers to come up with inspiring or witty fortunes. These people typically make around $40k a year.

Homework assignment: Topical reading

Students have to summarise an article related to a peculiar occupation.

Students must find an article profiling someone who has an unusual job. They should write a summary of the article and prepare to answer questions on it during the next lesson.

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ESL classroom games

First date

This is a fun role-playing game where two students will pretend to be on a first date.

For each round, you'll give one student three personality traits. Their partner must find out what these are by asking questions. The player who is acting has to do their best to convey these characteristics, without explicitly referring to them. Set a time limit for each round, one or two minutes should be enough. In the end, the interviewing student has three guesses. Give them a score out of three.

More upper-intermediate ESL lesson plans

We hope that you found a few of these ideas useful. Our next free lesson in this series is a discussion on current social issues. Also, Be sure to bookmark our complete list of upper-intermediate level ESL lesson plans, as well as our entire collection of ESL courses. If you use an iOS or Android device, try out the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers. It has a lot more content and gives you faster access to our ESL resources, making it easier to use in class.

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