Friday, October 4, 2013

Formal and Informal Communication

This topic invariably comes up in my writing workshops and classes. It doesn't matter the age of the group or whether they are taking the class for personal enrichment/lifelong learning or for college credit. When we communicate---whether verbally or through writing---the outcome is always the same: to convey thoughts. Knowing your purpose and audience determines HOW you will communicate your message.

Informal communication is among friends or people we know personally. We let our guard down, use slang and colloquial phrasing. Because it's informal, we know they'll "get the gist" of our message and that's all we are aiming for. Examples include text messages, phone calls/voicemail, and friendly banter. Informal communication may use non-standard English.
Formal communication on the other hand always follows the rules for standard English. When we are writing for our jobs – creating memos, reports, business letters – we use standard English. Are there times when we might use informal English in a work situation? What are examples of formal writing? What are examples of informal writing?
Whether we communicate formally or informally, the writing process is followed. First we collect our thoughts, then we decide how to share those thoughts, finally, we deliver our message. In formal writing, however, ideas and thoughts are focused before delivery. This ensures our message is clear. This is why correctly using words that are frequently misused is so  important.
Focusing our thoughts.  Planning is the first step in the writing process. It allows us to explore a topic before focusing it. We then consider our purpose and audience before we plan (or outline) and then draft. How many ideas can you generate about the differences between high school and college? Now, brainstorm ideas on this topic: What 3 tips would you give to a new college student?  You will write your first paper to turn in on this topic.

1 comment:

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