Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Writing Assignment

Las year I asked the class to write about their learning goals - New Year's Resolutions for learning English. I wanted everyone to think about their long and short range goals and how they would achieve them. Unfortunately, the "resolutions" were too vague and generalized to be effective writing or even useful as a study plan.

This year I want you to write and post a short holiday letter. Your letter should touch on the highlights of the past year and close with your plans for this coming year, briefly stated but specific. Imagine you are writing a friend or family member that you have not seen all year or been in touch with.

Here are some links to pages about writing holiday letters:
10 Yearly Holiday Letter Writing Tips
  1. Know your audience – What you write in your holiday letter and how you write it should be determined by who's going to be reading it. Is it only going to family members that you talk with every day? Or to old friends that you communicate with only a few times a year? Your letter should entertain the people who aren't intimately familiar with your daily happenings without boring those who are.
  2. Don't exaggerate - There is a tendency among some holiday letter writers to try to make every daily event sound as if it's the discovery of the Holy Grail. Don't embellish the truth. The events will speak for themselves.
  3. Write like you speak – For some reason, people often feel the need to include "big" words in their holiday letter that they’d never use in real life. Stick to words you use in your everyday English.
  4. Avoid unnecessary adjectives - This is a follow-up to rules #2 and #3 above. Now repeat after me: not all nouns must be preceded by an adjective. Excessive use of adjectives that you'd never use in everyday conversation is a common pitfall for many Yearly Holiday Letter writers. Avoid sentences such as, “My beautiful wife Jane and I took our wonderful kids to the fabulous city of New York and spent exciting hours visiting the incredible museums." Keep the adjectives to a minimum.
  5. Keep it short – Try to focus on the highlights of your year: the best things that happened to you, the funniest events, the most important changes in your life. In most cases, your letter shouldn't exceed one or two typed pages.
  6. Choose a format - Your letter can be arranged in a variety of ways. Many are written chronologically, listing events as they happened throughout the year, while others detail each person's accomplishments individually. You can also choose a theme, such as hope, new beginnings, tough times, etc., and interweave people and events to highlight your theme. Whichever method you choose, pick one and stick with it.
  7. Make it visually appealing - Your letter will be more interesting if you include photos, clip art, or other images.
  8. Be creative - An annual holiday letter doesn't have to be a letter at all. Look at creative letter ideas for fun ways to give your annual holiday update a fresh new look.
  9. Add a personal note - A quick handwritten note at the bottom of each recipient's letter will make the update feel more personal and less like an anonymous form letter.
  10. Have fun! - Remember that writing an annual holiday letter is an opportunity to have fun and keep others up to date about what you and your family have been doing all year. It shouldn’t feel like a chore to write your letter - or to read it. If it does, you’re doing something wrong.
I look forward to reading your letters. Don't forget to comment on one another's letters too!


  1. Happy New Year 2007

    My teacher and classmate,

    I am fresh in here, and meet you. I feel what lucky I am!
    The day after tomorrow is New Year in china. I will go my home with my family during the vacation,
    and return soon to the class after three days.
    Before returning my home,I wish you have a happy New Year .

  2. Fuying

    Will you have a chance to write us your holiday letter before you go home or will you do it when you return?

  3. Hi my dear friend,

    Last year I must choose family or work. The last decision I quitted from work and followed my husband to country I’m never been before. I very exciting and know that USA very big country. USA has many places I wish to visit ex. New York to see the memory of World Trade Center, Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty etc. And many city that very popular for our tourist - - San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Grand Canyon etc.

    First state we’re lived in Chicago at Schaumburg for 4 months. We’re spent time together every weekend to travel in town Chicago and many city nearly Chicago. After that now we’re in Tennessee at Nashville. Nashville is a “City of Music” when I’m arrived here I felt hearty and people very friendly.

    I don’t like to lived at Schaumburg because of I can’t go out at day time, they don’t have any local transport when my husband work. But in Nashville I can go out everywhere because of they have the local bus. However we’re live in town I can walk and easy to sight-seeing around. When my husband he has day off long weekend we’re plan to other city that I wish. I had been to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and New York.

    Some friends always ask me same question “Are you boring?” I can answer directly I’m never feeling boring. Because of if I’m not going out I can spend time with my computer to study English and reading many things from internet. My duty job is house-wife the day and the day my time past very quickly too. I’m very enjoy my time if it possible this year coming and I still follow my husband I wish he has next contact to Asia or around Europe I can find some work. However if I can’t find any work he help me to make website for e-business. Right now I’m preparing for this. I’m let’s to know later.

    By the ways I wish all of you are happiness, good health and successful for everything in this year and always.

    God Bless you,

  4. Hi, Ning,
    It's not easy to live a country you have never been and give up something important to you. Although you quitted your job, you seems have a good time with your husband. That's great! Somtimes we have to make a tough choice, even we don't know what our future is going to be. I'm glade you are happy and hoping you have great success in your career.

  5. Holiday Letter Assignment

    My dear friend Sanjay,

    How are you?

    It has been quite a long time since we last wrote to each other. It was the end of December, 2005 that I penned to you about my journey to Agra to see Taj Mahal.

    I hope everything is going fine at your end and Manisha and Anupama are studying well. Sanjay, I want to share with you my journey to Tsunami Struck areas.

    Soon after Tsnami struck the southern part of India, could not stop myself visiting the affected areas and helping them whatever way I could.

    Just before landing at the Thiru Airport, I saw the devastation caused by the nature's fury. The whole topography had changed and the areas which were once busy in the hustle-bustle of the cities, wore a deserted look. Thousands of people had died in just 10 minutes. After watching the disaster I realised the power of nature.

    I will write more in my next letter.



  6. Rajeev

    Did you understand the assignment? I want you to re-read the instructions and handouts on writing a holiday letter. Then write us another letter. Address your letter to the class - to all of us. Ask us how we are: NO REAL OR IMAGINARY FRIENDS WHO ARE STRANGERS TO US.

    I asked you to WRITE THE CLASS but to think of what you would write to a friend you had not been in touch with. That suggestion was to help you think about what to write.

    Write a summary - a PRECIS if you will - of what you did & what happend to you last year. Your letter is not clear and somewhat vague - short on details.

    Re-read my instructions for the holiday letter. Then read Ginyin's, Ning's, and Sadamu's letters. They are excellent examples and will show how to write yours.


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