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Methods for Writing a Letter in French

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

In teaching your student methods of letter writing in French, have them assume different roles. Divide them into pairs or teams and have them work on imaginary situations.

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    Cover Letters and Job Applications

    Although the format of all letters will vary, there are basic guidelines in the methods for writing a letter in French. There are the names and addresses of the writer sand the addressee, the greeting or heading, the body and the complimentary close.

    A cover letter usually accompanies a CV (curriculum vitae or resume). In writing a cover letter for a job, impress on your students the formal methods of address. In addition, they need to cosnider job and organization they are targeting. Nowadays, many job applications and cover letters are done online, so teach your students the differencebetween a heading on hard copy, and that online. On a hard copy, proper line spacing and address are required. In an online copy, the date is also required.

    The body of cover letter or job application should include the position being applied for and possibly how the student learnt of the job. The student should also inform the employer of his qualifications and express his interest in the job. He should also express his availability and then give a complimentary close. The endings of French letters appear to be a bit flowery compared to their English counterparts. Here is an example of a cover or job application letter which demonstrates methods of writing a letter in French:

    Yves Duval

    4100 Allé des Damades

    72003 Clermont Ferrand

    S.T.S. Internationale

    5 Boulevard Raspail

    72307 Paris

    Clermont Ferrand, le 6 mars

    Messieurs,

    Votre announce parue dans Le Monde, le 2 mars, à la recherche d’un Directeur du Marketing a attiré mon attention. J’ai le sentiment que mes compétences correspondent bien à ce que vous souhaitez.

    Je vous envoie donc mon C.V. ainsi que les noms at. adresses de personnes (citées en référence) que vous pourriez consulter pour obtenir des témoignages sur ma personnalité et mon expérience professionnelle.

    Veuillez croire, Messieurs, en l’assurance de ma considération distinguée.

    Yves Duval

    Other formal letters like turning down a job or resigning from a post all use the same guidelines.

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    Personal and Social Correspondence

    These range from birth and death announcements to letters of thanks and condolences and much more. There are also letters of enquiry about holiday and travel plans, like booking a hotel or a trip with a tour operator. These all follow certain conventions.Your students can practice some of these, or even work on their own ideas.

    Here is an example of a letter to a hotel director

    Bordeaux, le 5 mars 2010

    Madame Christiane Hamard,

    5, Rue Lafayette

    Bordeaux 17389

    L’Hôtel de Nesle

    11 Rue de Nesle

    Paris 72300

    Monsieur le Directeur,

    Je voudrais passer une semaine à Paris, et je voudrais réserver une chambre avec bain et WC. Je compte être à Paris a partir du 11 mai jusqu'au 18 mai.

    Ma fille de cinq ans m’accompagne. Je vous prie de me faire parvenir les tariffs pour ce séjour.

    Dans l’attente de vous lire, Je vous prie de recevoir Monsieur le Directeur, mes sentiments les plus distingués.

    Madame Christiane Hamard

    For some more ideas on how to begin and end letters in French, see this Brighthub article.

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