Old Fashioned Letter Writing: Do people write letters anymore?
Are the days of putting pen to paper and handwriting a letter obsolete? Does old fashioned letter writing still exist?
These days, the invention of smart phones, iphones, ipads and the humble old computer are giving people faster options of sending friends, colleagues and loved ones messages.
It could be said that the problem with letter writing is that is that it is far too time consuming. Yet on the other hand, people will say that they appreciate receiving a hand-written note.
Letter writing is an essential skill. Despite the prevalence of technology, everyone will have to write a letter at some point. Encouraging children to write letters from an early age will improve their communication, handwriting skills, and teach them what they need to know about writing and structuring letters. Don't let this classic old-fashioned art fade.
Can the new generation of children spell?
Automatic spell checkers, text message abbreviations and newly-formed slang is surely going to cause a whole new generation of people who cannot spell for themselves and who do not know how to manually search through the humble dictionary.
Personally I send e-mails. They are so much quicker to type up (particularly if you can touch type) and you can correct the spelling and edit the format in a way you can't do with hand writing. Once you make an error on a hand-written letter, unless you are a fan of liquid paper (white out), or crossing out a word, the only option is to start again. How frustrating! There is no backspace button!
Hav u eva knoticed tat peeple carnt spel enemore? I woz just aksing.
Wouldn't it be horrible if this was the norm?
Whilst we are brought up to learn how to spell correctly, and politely correct people who make errors, there are some occasions when a spelling error is to our advantage. How? Misspelled items on eBay. Take a look.
You will be pleasantly surprised.
I recently came across a page on facebook called the Letter Writing Challenge. A mum in Melbourne, Australia, established the challenge for her two boys to write one letter per week. The aim was to help with their handwriting skills, one is left handed, but after following this challenge I can see that it has been a far greater challenge in more ways than one.
Ironically after watching the boys online write letters each week, I was fortunate enough to become a part of this challenge myself. To say I was excited to receive a hand-written letter in the mail was an understatement. I don't think I can recall the last time someone wrote me a letter. A 'real' letter. A holiday to Queensland, a photograph of a bearded dragon and a willingness to participate saw me not only receive a fantastic hand-written letter, but also put pen to paper myself and reply. It gave me a real buzz. Read all about my involvement here in my guest blog post on the Letter Writing Challenge website. It all started with a bearded dragon!
How about writing a letter today. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Write to a long lost friend
- Write a letter and include it in a Time Capsule
- Find a penpal and write a message
- Write a thank-you letter
- Write to a grandparent to ask about their childhood
- Write a letter requesting information on a chosen topic
- Letters to Santa Claus
- How about a thank you letter for a gift you have recently received
- Write a letter inviting someone to come for dinner
- Letters of complaint
- Letters to newspapers and magazines
- And the list goes on
Type of Letters
Letters can be both formal and informal and each has unique characteristics. Depending on the style will determine how components of the letter are penned.
- How to address the person
- The Greeting
- The type of language used
- How to close the letter
- The type of paper used
Formal letters, generally used in the business arena or when writing to someone with authority, are prepared with far stricter guidelines and structure.
Thoughts on such structures differ but keep in mind these aspects if you are preparing a formal letter:
- Use plain white paper, A4 size.
- Use the title of the recipient - Mr, Miss or Mrs
- Do not use slang
- Close the letter with a more formal message such as 'Yours faithfully' or 'Yours sincerely'
- Sign the letter if possible.
Writing an informal letter gives you much more room for creativity, and depending on the recipient, much more fun can be had.
- Paper options are introduced here - coloured, patterned or plain
- Use the recipient's first name (if appropriate)
- Close the letter with informal messages such as 'Love from', 'See you soon' or 'Thanks again'.
- Add a photograph or a drawing (for a special occasion)
- Determine if you are preparing a formal or informal letter.
- Make sure your hand writing is neat and legible.
- Jot down some key notes you would like to include before writing.
- Double check the address and add a return address on the envelope.
Letters to Santa
Each year, hundreds of children around the world write a letter to Santa Claus, asking ever so politely for that one (or list of ) special toys that they would love to receive.
Why not encourage your children to write to Santa. Maybe you could encourage them to ask Santa some questions about his life in the North Pole. Ask him how his reindeer are? What he likes to eat? There are many companies that exist that send children letters from Santa so why not tie this in together. Get some special writing paper just for this occasion too. Sprinkle red glitter. Make it a fun exercise.
Let's follow in the footsteps of the Letter Writing Challenge and help good old-fashioned letter writing make the come back it deserves. Let's all support Universal Letter Writing Week. Let's encourage our children to use their imagination, improve their hand-writing and create unique letters. This will help to keep letter-writing a lovely tradition.
The sheer enjoyment of sending and receiving a letter via the Letter Writing Challenge changed the way I think. There is definitely something special about putting a letter into a letter box. It shows someone cares and has taken the time to sit down and think about you.
Handwritten letters have a unique charm. You can take time to think about what you want to say. You can keep letters to read again and again. Responding by letter is very different to the immediacy of a text message or an email.
Try it sometime.
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