When I was about 12 I decided I wanted to have a pen pal overseas. I think I liked the idea of receiving a letter from America, but all my efforts to write to an unknown address seemed vain, until email came about. Now, exchanging emails is a bit different from getting an actual physical letter, but nowadays it is still my main mode of communication with a number of people because it's cheap, fast, and convenient.
|My host family, Nick and Nancy|
When I was in my 3rd year of College I received an email from a person I knew who asked if I would be interested in corresponding with a retired American teacher. Of course I jumped on this opportunity because not only did I like writing, I also saw that as a great way of practicing my written English (something to which few language schools pay attention). We corresponded for almost a year, and then she and her husband came to the College where I was a student. A year later they became my host family in the US, and since then they have been my dear friends.
I've learned a few lessons from my pen pal experience that I would like to share with you:
- Having a pen pal helped me to learn writing in a very natural, non-classroom environment. I was receiving emails and observing Nancy's Grammar, choice of words and expressions. That, in turn, helped me pattern my writing after a native speaker's writing, instead of a textbook.
- A pen pal is your accountability. Many of my readers are at different stages of learning English. Most of them like learning it for free. While free lessons have some value, they have little accountability, i.e. nobody is there to "check" on you, so you can get lazy or sidetracked very quickly. Pen pals will always write and ask how you're doing, so that helps you "stay in the loop."
- Having pen pals is great because in the future it can develop into a great friendship. The woman to whom I wrote 12 years ago for the first time is now one of my best friends and has become a part of my family. There is excitement in discovering a new person and then meeting this person in real life.
Of course, in order to thoroughly enjoy your pen pal experience you have to be able to write, but mostly - you need to like writing. So, if you are one of those people I think having a pen pal is a must! Do you have one yet? If you would like to get connected with a person overseas who would like to write to you, please, let me know! Send a note to instructor @ eto - onlinenglish (DOT) com. I hope you'll take advantage of this great, FREE opportunity!