A Simple Memo

The past few days in class we’ve been covering the skill of writing. Most of my students are trying to pass a test called CET4 in which they’ll receive a certificate (if passed), giving them better job possibilities and even higher testing options should they choose to keep excelling in English. Most of my students haven’t passed this test even though they’ve taken it 2 or 3 times. I’ve always known their English was poor, but I thought, “Surely it can’t be that hard of a test. They’re reading and listening skills aren’t so bad.”

Today I found out the answer to my wonderment: the writing skill, of which none of them have an ounce of. I let them write a memo with a partner in class today. After a full lesson on how to do it, step by step, they had their chance at it. Here are some of the papers I received. I have included all errors.

I'm surprised they don't just grab a used tissue and write it on that.

(The book) Question 46: Your department has just received several large new orders. The company has decided to ask everyone in the department to work five extra hours per week. Write a memo to all staff in the department: explaining the situation, saying when overtime will begin, and asking the staff to work overtime. Write 30-40 words. (I’m not sure how this could be more clear.)

“I have to tell all dept staff a bad news. Aco According to the development needs of the company, this week. I s started company needs a daily one hour of overtime. I hope you we can coperate and understand. thank You”

Our company has a good Due to the competition of from other company, Our company developed rapidly. under the command of our company. everyone need to work five extra hours per week, and the order will begin on from this wee Friday. I look forward to your understanding.”

“Because of we took a holiday in last week, so we must to overtime very day in this week. please inform each other, don’t absent. thanks” (Who said anything about a holiday?)

“We are attending a conference about producing 100 pairs of shoes All dept staff have to work overtime. Could you please tell all dept. staff we have to work overtime? And overtime will begin on 14-18 May.” (The memo is TO all dept staff. Who is “you”, and why are you asking him/her to tell everyone? And who said anything about a conference for producing 100 pairs of shoes? Just Say No!)

“Today, we d have received several large new orders. So everyone should have 5 extra hours per week. The start time is April 10. The overtime is April 16.” (Ok, we need to define “overtime” again.)

I no longer wonder why they can’t pass CET4.

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9 thoughts on “A Simple Memo

  1. My youngest son,22, has a language disability. In the years of teaching training therapy, I came to describe his disability to others as it is like someone of different language trying to understand and use a new language. This just proves me right! Something is definately lost in translation ;)
    Love your attitude!

    • Thanks! Yeah, you know, it certainly doesn’t bother me. They really do try and that’s all I want them to do. I know how it feels to feel stupid and totally lost when it comes to another language so I never want to make them feel that way. I just want them to know that it’s ok to feel lost, but to just keep trying and eventually it will get better and better.

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