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Establishing a Classroom Pen Pal Exchange
« on: February 20, 2018, 12:19:16 pm »
Hello hive mind,

I'm looking into doing a pen pal for my kids this year, and I'm hoping to get some advice from people who have attempted it already.

Does anyone have experience in setting up a pen pal language exchange for your students, for either implementation into standard curriculum or just for an after school class?

I'm thinking of either reaching out in pen pal communities, contacting my old elementary school, or looking at an online platform that would do the matchmaking for me.

I'm open to feedback for any form, such as snail mail, e-mail or an online platform (like

I'd appreciate comments from anyone with experience in this, as far as hurdles/setup tips/success stories, etc.

Thanks!  :smiley:

Re: Establishing a Classroom Pen Pal Exchange
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 09:24:10 am »
I started a pen pal communication this year with my small country school. I have a friend back in the states who is a Kindergarten teacher. She had the kids write the first letter (aka they brainstormed in class, and she actually wrote it legibly, had them all sign the back, and scanned and emailed it to me). Then I printed it and brought it into my 5th and 6th grade classes (which have 2 kids each) and had them read it. That looked like the higher level student confidently reading a portion, and the lower level student stumbling over a few sentences, then me reading it again and having the KET translate.

Since the age difference is pretty significant, but the English level is not, it works. I left them with the letter and asked the HR teacher to have them come up with 2 or 3 questions for next week. Next week I came in with a draft and had the Ss fill in some blanks/write what they wanted. I collected signatures, then I wrote the letter legibly, scanned and emailed it back.

We received a reply and we're writing our second response this week.

It's pretty fun! I wouldn't be able to do it with a bigger class size, tho. There's no way I can explain American kindergartner's questions to 18-30 rowdy kids at once. They've already asked the same question twice and my 6th grader was like "they asked us that last time" lol.

I will add that it helps tremendously that the other teacher and I are close friends. We can message on WhatsApp about what the students meant, ask for pictures, or explain things further. (Their stuffed pet "Zee" character was so odd I asked her to send me a picture of him and explain what that meant).

I made the draft for Letter 2 more of a fill in the blank. It's better than the draft for Letter 1.

Good luck and feel free to ask anything else ~
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 01:17:48 pm by hazelgaze028 »