In today’s high tech world of Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In and Twitter, many younger people may never have heard of pen pals. But their parents and grandparents can describe the fun of writing letters to people in foreign lands. Learn French with a pen pal, and you’ll master the language much faster than you would on your own.
How does it work? First you’ll need to find a person with whom you’d like to correspond. Because it can be dangerous to communicate with total strangers on the internet, you should go through your school, church, or community organization to find a friendly person in a French-speaking country who would like to write to you. Your religious leader, teacher, or civic leader may know the perfect person. If you are a minor, ask your parents to help set this arrangement up, and be sure to tell them if your pen pal suggests a meeting or asks for personal information. (And of course, don’t give him any!)
Once you have a pen pal in mind, send your new friend an email in French. Explain that you have been recommended by Mrs. _____, you are trying to learn French with a pen pal, and you hope that by exchanging letters you will begin to read and comprehend French better than you do now. Then, using reasonable discretion about what you say, compose a regular letter. Tell your pen pal about the things that interest you—your work, your hobbies, your goals. Explain a little bit about your household or family—you have two brothers, a black cat, a small apartment. When you are finished, hit “send” and wait for a reply.
The best part about trying to learn French with a pen pal is that you can combine this old idea with today’s new technology to make your correspondence even more exciting. For example, once you’ve established a comfortable writing relationship, you can use Skype or a similar video chat technology to talk to your pen pal face-to-face. This will greatly improve your speaking and communication skills. Don’t worry if you can’t completely follow your French-speaking friend’s conversation at first. Remind your pen pal that you’re just learning his language, and he’ll have to slow down. But listen carefully and try to answer back—the dividends are definitely worth it!
When you learn French with a pen pal, you’ll find it’s a wonderful way to learn a new language. It’s also a wonderful way to gain insight into a culture that may be much different from your own—but then again, you may well discover that people of different backgrounds really aren’t so different after all. Write faithfully to your pen pal, and this simple friendship will reap benefits many times over.
If you don’t speak any French yet, have a look what Rocket French can offer you at the link below.