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English For Specific Purposes: Notice, Circulars And Bulletin




Idiomatic Expression Idioms, Definite Article, English Expression, English Expressions

Beyond being an instrument of communication, language serves specific functions in certain contexts. The use of English in specific contexts is the core of English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) distinguishes itself from more general language studies through a focus on the particular, purposeful uses of language or what Cummins (1982) refers to as ‘context-reduced’ language.

English for Specific Purposes is captured in the axiom, “Tell me what you need English for, and I will tell you the English that you need.” In this piece, I am extending my discussion on English for official uses to include the use of English in specific contexts. By reason of that, the rest of this piece will give a general knowledge of notices, circulars and bulletins.


English NOTICE

A notice is a communication informing the persons who are expected to attend a meeting of the time, place, date and business of the meeting. The persons entitled to attend a meeting must be informed of the time, place, date and business of the meeting ahead of the day or time of such a meeting. To make the meeting valid, the notice must be served by the right person through the right means to all the persons entitled to attend the meeting.

Usually, the notice is drafted and issued by the secretary under the instruction of the head of the organisation/body/unit. A notice, to be valid, must be signed by the proper authority who usually should be the convener of such a meeting.

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Below are the essential features of a notice:
1. The notice must specify the exact date, time and place of the meeting.
2. The notice must state the nature of the business to be transacted at the meeting.
3. A complete agenda is appended to the notice.
4. The notice should be served to all members entitled to attend the meeting.
5. The notice must be clear and unconditional.
6. A proper length of notice must be given following the rules of the organisation.

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Circulars (also called circular letters) are used to communicate the same message to a large number of people who could be customers and suppliers. For instance, the thrift body of a ministry or organisation can send a circular to members informing them of the latest developments. Circulars should be written in an interesting, catchy and succinct manner to be effective for business communication. Circulars are used to provide facts and figures about an organisation and what they offer. It serves as a means of creating awareness. The circular letters aim to pique the readers’ interest, thereby winning their confidence.

The following should be noted about a circular:
The circular letter must be drafted carefully.
A circular should have an opening salutation (Dear Sir/Madam) and a closing remark (Yours faithfully).
It must be informative.
It must not be ambiguous.
The circulars must be courteous in tone and pleasing in form.
The purpose of the circular must be clearly stated.
The circular letter must be concise.


Generally, a circular letter conveys the following types of information:
1. The establishment or transfer of a business.
2. The opening of a new branch.
3. A change of premises.
4. Introducing a new article.
5. Taking over a business, dissolving a business or amalgamation of a business.
6. The appointment, discharge or retirement of an important employee.
7. The admission, retirement or death of a partner.
8. An issue of bonus shares.
9. An offer of right shares to shareholders.
10. Sales reduction.
11. A change in the organisation’s constitution.


A bulletin is a written document used to inform a group of people about a specific matter. Organisations and companies draw up media releases which are offered to the media. The aim is for the media to use them as a basis for a news story. The release must be interesting enough to be newsworthy.

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When such news is handled within an organisation, it is released in a bulletin. Organisations, institutions and companies deploy bulletins in their internal communications to inform the staff or personnel about matters related to the organisation. In this case, it is easier to make them newsworthy. Such matters might concern promotion, appointment, dismissal, transfer and so on.

A bulletin should be concise and clear in its content and layout to make it easy for readers to get the gist of the publication. The language must be free of errors, should be in a formal style and must be suitable for the intended audience. The structure is similar to that of a news story – the most important facts are given first. However, unlike a single news item, a bulletin can present more than one issue in different headings followed by a succinct body and a conclusion.

The middle provides additional information, and the conclusion presents the facts mentioned more extensively, for example, using background information. At the end, the contact details of a person who can give further information are supplied. It should be added that organisations release bulletins periodically.


In conclusion, language will always be used for specific purposes in different areas of human endeavour. Everyone who desires success in their field must, therefore, strive to familiarise themselves with the specific functions that language is expected to perform for them.

(c) 2023

Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose writes from the Department of English, Lagos State University.

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