Opening doors to digital literacy with online modules

Module 1: Email


What you’ll learn in this module:

What is email?

Email is an electronic message. An email can be sent from a computer at any time to any location in the world. An email is a quick, easy and free way to send a message online.
An email address is necessary to send and receive an email; it is similar to a postal address. When you send a letter by mail you need the address of the recipient (who the letter is going “to”) and the address of the sender (who letter is coming “from”). An email address works the same way.
An email address is made up of a combination of letters and/or numbers. This is often called a username or login. The username may reflect your real name or be a word or phrase. If your name is Mike Smith, you may decide to create a username like this: msmith77. The next part of an email is the @ symbol (pronounced “at”) this connects your username to the email service that you’re using. For this example, the email service is Google.

Here’s what a Google email address looks like:

It is very important to type an email address correctly for two reasons:
1.  An incorrect email address may “bounce back.” This means the message has failed to send.
2. An incorrect email address may reach the wrong recipient.

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How do I say an email address?

Here’s an overview of how to pronounce certain symbols found in an email address:

@    =   at 

.      =   dot

 _   =   underscore

Activity #1: Email pronunciation

Now it’s your turn! Let’s practice with these examples:                       =                   M Smith 77 at gmail dot com                   =                   Mike underscore Smith at gmail dot com

To listen to the examples in Activity #1, click here for audio.

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How do I get an email address?

You can sign-up for a free email address at Google. Go ahead, give it a try.

Activity #2: Sign up for an email account

1. Go to
2. Select GMAIL  from the top navigation
4. Follow the instructions and fill out the form.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set up an email address account:
  • Once you’ve selected a username and password, it’s a good idea to write that information down and keep it in a safe place.
  • You don’t have to use your real name when creating an email account. Feel free to make one up or use a word or phrase that you like. Here’s an example: rose_red123
5. Once you’ve filled out the form and saved your information, you’re all set! We’ll go over how to access your new email address in the next section.

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How do I write an email?

Now that you’ve created an email address, you’re ready to send your first email. First, you’ll need to access your account.

Activity #3: Access your new email account

1.  Go to
2.  On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a box to sign in:
3.  Click inside the field for USERNAME and enter your email address
4.  Click in the field for PASSWORD and enter your password
5. Now you’re ready to sign in. If you’re on a private computer, you can click the box “Stay signed in” and it will save your username and password information, so you don’t have to type it in again. Only click this box if you’re on a private computer that you do not share with others.

Activity #4: Writing an email

To write an email, select the red button on the left that says, COMPOSE. A window on the right side of the page will pop up. It will say NEW MESSAGE. Follow the next five steps to compose your message. The picture below has some helpful tips in red to point you in the right direction.
Now it’s your turn!


1.  Click in the box TO and enter the email address of the person you want to send the message to. If you want to practice writing an email, but don’t have any personal contacts, write a message to
2.  Click in the box SUBJECT and enter a title for your message
3.  Click in the text box and type your message
4. Review your message. Check TO, SUBJECT and the text of your message for any errors.
5. Click SEND and your message is on its way

Activity #5: Add an attachment to an email (ADVANCED)

Want to take your email to the next level? Try adding an attachment. This can be a file of your choice such as a text document, PDF or even an image. This document must be saved on the computer that you’re using. For this exercise, save a file to the desktop.
Now, let’s start from the top by composing a new email.
1. Open a NEW MESSAGE window and fill in all the blanks: To, Subject and Message Text.
2. To add an attachment, click on the paperclip icon to attach a file.
3. You can drag and drop a file directly into the space that says DROP FILES HERE.
4. Or, you can click on the paperclip icon to attach a file and a box will pop up onto your screen. Browse the information on your computer by clicking on the folder that contains the file that you would like to attach. When you find the file, click on it and then click on OPEN. This will start the process of attaching the file to your outgoing email message.
5.  Once you’ve attached a file, a progress bar will appear to show you that your file is being attached to your message. You should see a checkbox once your file has attached successfully.
6. Finish writing your email message and click SEND

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How do I change language settings in Gmail?

Gmail is available in many different languages. To change the language settings, follow these steps:
1. Log into your Gmail account.
2. Click the GEAR ICON in the upper right.
3. Select a language from the drop-down menu in the LANGUAGE section and save your changes at the bottom of the page.
It’s important to remember that the Gmail account will appear in the language of your choice after selecting a new language. However, this will not affect the language of your sent and received email messages.

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What is phishing?

Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a fake email that is attempting to steal your personal information. Phishing emails are often masked to look like they’re coming from a real organization such as PayPal, eBay, Facebook or even a bank or government agency. These scam emails often ask for personal information such as a credit card number, social security number or password information. Phishing emails may ask you click a link that takes you to a site requesting personal information. A legitimate organization does not request personal information via email.
What should you do if you received a suspicious email? Delete the message immediately.
What happens if you click on an email or link that takes you to a suspicious website? Don’t enter any information and leave the website immediately. As a safety precaution, you should change your email password. Click here for more information about changing your email password.
What to look for in a phishing email?
  • Generic greeting: If you don’t see your name, be suspicious.
  • Fake link: Roll your mouse over the link (be sure not to click) and see if it matches what’s in the email. Phishing emails may mention a well-known organization, provide a link in the email message, but lead you to a fraudulent website. Websites that are safe to enter personal information will begin will “https” – the “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see “https,” leave the site.
  • Request for personal information: Never send personal information via email.

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Congratulations & Thank You!

You have completed Module 1: Email from LINKS TO LITERACY
This module is licensed under the creative commons

12 comments on “Module 1: Email

  1. Robin Dearborn
    March 17, 2013

    Hello from Oakland,
    I am looking forward to getting to know everyone through the modules.
    Robin Dearborn

  2. Links2Lit-Christina
    March 18, 2013

    Hi everyone!

    I’d love to hear about your experience with the first module. Feel free to send any questions, comments or even a simple greeting to I’ll be checking this email daily and would love to hear from you! Plus, it’s good practice to keep your email skills fresh. Of course, you can also comment here and I’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible.



  3. Sue
    March 26, 2013

    I’m going to start a class of 4 ESL adults on Thursday. I went over the first lesson carefully today to get ready. (I have years of experience teaching at-risk students at a university using computers; I’ve volunteered with Oak View Literacy teaching Spanish speakers for 10 years, also.) At the end of each class, my students will send you their questions, comments, etc. I will NOT monitor those comments. Should be interesting. Thanks for doing this!

  4. Links2Lit-Christina
    March 26, 2013

    Thanks for the update, Sue!

  5. Tricia
    March 28, 2013

    This was a good lesson, we enjoyed it.

  6. sofia
    March 28, 2013

    thank you . I like the lesson

  7. Juana
    March 28, 2013

    thank you

  8. martin lani
    April 27, 2013

    I got lost trying to use the audio. Had to start over twice.

  9. martin lani
    April 27, 2013

    It might also help if you have a or at the bottom of the lesson.

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