The demise of letter writing with level 500 English and French students at the University of Buea
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INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Letter writing is an art. It is a written message that we send to the persons who are far away from us and we want to convey a message to them in a clear and forceful manner. We usually write letters to our friends and relatives. There are various ways by which we can communicate today with the advent of technology amongst which are telephones, mobile SMS, chats.
Personal letter-writing techniques have reduced considerably. We can send our messages through these social mediums very easily but this art is still required where there is a need for formal communication. For example for jobs, further training; we need to sit down and write a formal letter; this cannot be done on an SMS or chatbox.
Richard Nordquist (2016) defines letter writing as” the exchange or printed message He says that distinctions of letter writing are commonly drawn between personal letters (sent between family members, friends, or acquaintances) and business letters (formal exchanges with businesses or government organizations).
According to him, letter writing occurs in many forms and formats, including notes, letters, and postcards. Sometimes referred to as hard copy or snail mail (the length of time it takes to deliver). The letter is often distinguished from forms and computer-mediated communication (CMC), such as email and texting.
In his book Yours Ever: People and Their Letters(2009), Thomas Mallon identifies some of the subgenres of the letter, including the Christmas cards, the chain letter, the mash note, the begging letter of recommendation, the unsent letter, the valentine, and the war-zone dispatch.
Letter writing is also defined as a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization containing information and transmitted by mail (letter for job application). The ability to write a good and perfect letter can be as useful as the ability to maintain an excellent inter-personal relationship.
There are many types of letter writing but most of the English grammar deals with the following given categories Informal letter, formal letter for Job application, complaints, letter of resignation, recommendation letter, invitation letter. These all have different formats.
Background of the study
Letter writing is an art, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting, but full of details. For several centuries, it was the main way people stayed in touch, especially those who had moved elsewhere to other countries. Letter writing was a process that could take several days, depending on the importance of the epistle; letters were joyfully received and replied to. They were saved and treasured and often handed down through families as keepsakes and histories.
The transition to the email was not instant. It is only when computers became widespread that they became a prevalent medium. Even though there are still some people who are interesting in letter writing especially among the older generation, with the widespread of technology all around the world, people are no more concerned with writing letter in present-day society. This has led us to believe that the art of letter writing has died, thus the demise of letter writing.
Statement of the Problem
Many people today are unable to write letters. They are unable to present the format of a letter correctly. Even many students learning the English language at the University of Buea are unable to write a letter. It is therefore important to look at the problem of why people are not writing letters today and propose a possible solution.
Definitions of terms
There are three terms to define this study which are: “demise”, “letter”, and “writing”
- Demise: It is a termination of existence. It means death or decease
- Letter: According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a letter is a message that is written down or printed on a page and usually put in an envelope and sent to somebody (853). The letter is also a written communication addressed to a person or organization and usually transmitted by mail
- Writing: It is the act or process of producing and recording words in a form that can be read and understood.
Objectives of the Study
Letter writing is still used today mostly informal situation. Thus, this ought to be written correctly. Hence, there is a need to examine the reasons why the level 500 English and French students are unable to write letters correctly. So, this study seeks to:
- Show that letter writing has reduced or died completely in some cases
- To show the types that still exist
- Show that students do not write letters
- .Examine the factor responsible for the demise of letter writing
In examining the possible factors of the poor performance of level 500 English and French students at U.B in letter writing, the following questions will be answered:
- Why the constant inability of language students to write letters correctly?
- Do these students still write letters today? If yes, what types? If no, why not?
- Is the letter now either dead or in terminal decline because of the impact of new digital technologies and other communication channels?
- Which possible solution can be proposed to make students know how to write letters?