Today I’m giving you THREE ways to simulate an email exchange – without an internet connection!

A big thanks to Dale Coulter for contributing one of the email tasks here.

Uber-busy teachers can download the full lesson plan below.

Low-tech-teaching-3-Three-email-tasks.pdf (277 downloads)


I teach Business English and the email tasks in coursebooks tend to be ‘send an email to Mr Smith and ask him for 800 chocolate buttons’.

This is unlike real email exchanges which tend to consist of a ‘chain’ of emails shared between two or more people. Also, if I work in a heating company or a medical equipment company – why would I write an email asking for chocolate buttons?

Research shows that we need to be smarter in designing tasks for real learners, so that they can communicate effectively. For further reading check out ‘Designing Tasks for the Business English classroom by Stephen Evans.


I find that practicing email writing in class with technology is just impractical – the problem is either a lack of tech or lack of wi-fi.

Or both.

Despite the edtech revolution that is constantly being promoted, in my everyday context ‘teaching with tech’ is still a long way off.


So I still use paper and I still use chalk…

Email simulation

Even though I am limited by a lack of tech, my Business English learners often say that dealing with emails in english is an important part of their work. And there are very few materials that deal with email writing.

With this in mind I aimed to re-create the experience of writing a ‘contextually relevant email’ and receiving a reply as best as I could.

With no internet connection!

Here it is again: Low-tech-teaching-3-Three-email-tasks.pdf (277 downloads)


I hope that you find these email writing tasks from myself and Dale useful – let me know how you use these tasks with your learners.

And if you make any paper emails (or sticky note emails) –  share the pictures with the hashtag #paperemails on Twitter or my Google+ site!








Email, sucks. Kristie Wells on flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Johnny Cash (1964). WikiCommons. In public domain.

4 thoughts on “Low-tech teaching (3): Paper Emails

    1. Hi Mura,

      ‘If you don’t come we’ll eat your cat” – hilarious! Glad that you used the activity and that it went well. It used to annoy me that learners tend to ‘subvert’ a lot of the activities, but now I just see it as valuable beta-testing. I think maybe combining the paper email activity with a ‘model’ email would work well. Get learners to notice the features of formal/ informal emails by a ‘model email’ and then get them to write to each other. But then I’m also a fan of test-teach-test, just getting learners to do something right away – that’s how I like to learn.

      Also, I never thought about it before but reading/ replying to a spam email would be a really fun activity to use in class. You’ve given me an idea for another lesson!



      spam email example – with dragons:

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