Directed Writing – Speech

A speech has 4 important elements that must be included in the write-up:-

1. greetings (Good morning/afternoon …)

2. role (What is your role or position that allows you to give the speech?)

3. topic (What is your speech about?)

4. ending (Thank you …)

*1, 2 & 3 are typically mentioned within the first paragraph itself.

Additional tips:

1. Most questions at the SPM level are based on the school setting. As such, the greetings should include all of the people that one will typically encounter in a school such as the Principal, teachers and of course, fellow students. If the question is set within a competition, then “judges” and “timekeepers” should also be included. Students can also add in the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen” at certain intervals of their speech but limit it to two or three mentions at most.

2. Typically, the question will set us up as someone with a certain post that allows us to give a speech. For example, Head Prefect, President of Interact Club etc. It is wise to get students familiar with such terms and phrases (I think I’ve mentioned this before?).

3. It is important to state the topic of your speech. Sometimes, the title is very clearly highlighted in the question with quotation marks. Other times, it is not and students will have to identify the title themselves from the question given.


You are the President of the Environment Club. You have been asked to give a speech to the students in your school on “The Importance of Recycling”.


You are the President of the Environment Club. You have been asked to give a speech on the importance of recycling during the assembly.

**The topic can be introduced with a simple phrase such as “Today, I would like to give a speech about …”

***This might be slightly obsessive-compulsive on my part but if students are writing the topic using quotation marks, then the topic should begin with big letters. If the topic is written as part of the sentence, then it should be written like a normal sentence with small letters.

4. Students must remember to thank the audience at the end of the speech. A simple “Thank you.” will do for the weaker students while better students can try phrases such as “Thank you for your attention.” or “Thank you for your time.“.

5. Speeches often revolve around a certain aspect of an issue such as the benefits, the causes, the effects etc of something. Students with a higher level of language should be taught to write an “introductory” paragraph on the issue before going into the points given. Talk about the issue in general, explaining what is the issue all about. Remember, it should come after the first paragraph (greetings, role & topic) and before the points (the benefits, the causes, the effects etc). This will give the essay a more “polished” feel overall.


speaking of letters…

After a few weeks of exam talk, let’s talk about something fun instead for this week. (:

As we all know, students often do not see the need to learn English simply because they do not use the language in their everyday lives. To remedy this, I recently took part in a letter-exchange project a friend of mine came up with. The idea is simple enough, as I will explain below, although it does take a bit of coordinating on the teachers’ behalf as well as some monetary sacrifice.

Firstly, look for a teacher friend to partner with. Preferably, this teacher should be from another state or at least, another district. If you have the connections for it, someone from overseas is even better! Then, coordinate with the corresponding teacher in terms of students’ level of proficiency and the number of students on each end. But then again, you will definitely have kids absent on letter-writing day anyways so don’t worry too much about it. As long as the gap between the number of students in both classes is not too big, you should be fine. In any case, my solution to this is to have one kid reply to two or three letters. This might take some pushing (and shoving) on your part though!

Next, decide on whose kids shall start off the letter-writing process. If you are the one starting it off, have your kids write a letter introducing themselves. Collect all the letters and send it to the corresponding teacher (this is where the monetary sacrifice comes in). The corresponding teacher’s students will then reply to those letters and once they are done, the corresponding teacher will send the letters back to you. Once you have gotten the replies, your kids can then reply to those and the process continues.

Essentially, this a letter-exchange project between students but with the teacher as the post office/man. I would however, strongly advise teachers to read through students’ letters (the ones you receive as well as the ones you send out) to ensure that there are no exchange of personal information that can lead to the students making contact out of the classroom. This is to protect both your students as well as yourself from any potentially unpleasant situations in the future.

Now, you may wonder… where is the learning in all of this? The truth is, when I took on this project, my goal is not so much language learning but just to let the students have some fun communicating with the language with real people on real topics.

Sounds easy enough right? Go give it a try with your students and let me know how it goes!

Raya cards my students got from their penpals in Perak!

Directed Writing – Informal Letter

An informal letter has 5 important elements that must be included in the write-up: –

1. sender’s address

2. date

3. salutation (“Dear…”)

4. complementary close (“Yours truly” etc)

5. signature

Here is an example of how an informal letter would look like in terms of layout: [ideasforenglish] Informal Letter

Additional tips:

1. Start off your letter with some general statements. For example, you can refer to the letter that you received from him/her, thank him/her for it or even apologise for the late reply. Weaker students can be given a “standard” introduction to memorise and use.

2. State the purpose of your letter. In general, informal letters are meant for asking advice/help, extending an invitation, offering congratulations/condolences etc. Remember, this should come before going into the main points of your letter. Again, weaker students can be taught a “standard” phrase to introduce the purpose such as “The reason why I am writing this letter is to…”

Also, it may be worthwhile to show students how to derive the purpose of the letter from the question itself.


Your cousin has been chosen to take part in the National Service Programme and is worried about going. You have decided to write a letter to tell him/her about the benefits of this programme and to encourage your cousin to go. (SPM 2010)

Purpose: The reason why I am writing this letter is to tell you about the benefits of the National Service Programme.

The purpose of the letter usually comes after the phrase “write a letter to”. If possible however, students should refrain from direct lifting because certain words might have to be replaced in the answer (“him/her” > “you”). 

3. Also, bear in mind that SPM questions do not make a distinction between informal and formal letters. In other words, they do not specify the type of letter required. It is up to the students to interpret the question and answer accordingly. The choice between informal and formal letter is of course, dependent on the recipient of the letter. Typically, letters to a friend, siblings, cousins etc would be informal while letters to the Principal and other official positions would be formal. Make sure students are aware of this fact.

PS: Sorry for the late update. Was away for the weekend.

Directed Writing

Today, I will explain more about Directed Writing. Then, over the course of the next four weeks, we will look at the four different types of essay tested in Directed Writing – letter (informal & formal), speech, report and article.

As I’ve mentioned before, all of these essays have their own specific format and marks are given for the correct use of them. The total amount of marks allocated for Directed Writing is 35 and it is divided between Content (15) and Language (20). Format is considered as part of Content and is usually allocated between 1 to 3 marks. Below is an analysis of past year SPM questions for Directed Writing including the amount of marks awarded for Format.


Directed Writing



INFORMAL LETTER – to ask mother for money

3 marks


ARTICLE – for school newsletter

1 mark


TALK – on road safety

3 marks


FORMAL LETTER – to class teacher about school trip


REPORT – to principal about the school canteen

3 marks


INFORMAL LETTER – letter to friend to share experience

3 marks


INFORMAL LETTER – letter to friend asking for advice

3 marks


SPEECH – to promote a book

3 marks


ARTICLE – for school magazine (best leader at camp)

3 marks


REPORT – to principal about students’ lack of interest in sports

3 marks


INFORMAL LETTER – letter to cousin about the National Service Programme

3 marks


SPEECH – how to treat a sprained ankle

3 marks

Having said that, a good place to start teaching essay writing therefore, would be the format. (This will be discussed further in the following weeks.)

Also, if we take a look at the situations provided in the questions, most of them concerns the daily life of a typical student with references made mostly to school as well as school-related matters. As such, when giving exercises to your students, focus on questions with similar scenarios instead of the ones that are more work-related. With weaker students, you should also try to introduce them to the terms associated with school such as “Principal”, “President”, “Secretary”, “English Week”, “Career Month”, “Nature Club” etc.

If you would like to have a copy of the above analysis for your own reference, you can download it from here:

[ideasforenglish] SPM Directed Writing 2000-2011