When my mom was a child, she had several penpals. I remember how she would tell me about them and how much she relished reading their letters and writing back and forth to her friends. How exciting it was for a letter addressed to her with a stamp from a faraway country to arrive in her mailbox!
Today young people still enjoy sharing their lives and learning about other cultures through penpals. Schools use services that connect students from classrooms all over the globe. Children practice reading and writing in a foreign language, work on literacy skills, and learn about other cultures.
Although the content of penpal letters may be similar to what it was when my mom was a girl, the method of communicating is shifting. In the Peanuts comic strip, Charile Brown has a “pencil-pal.” In 2011 children are more likely to have an e-pal, since many of them correspond instantly via email with friends around the world.
Have you ever connected with someone in another part of the world through a penpal or e-pal relationship? What did you learn?
by Marcia Chamberlain, WITS writer