Assign a teacher to be the liaison to communicate with the other liaison teacher from the school(s) abroad. Then, make or edit the class roster, containing the students’ name and add blank spaces for the teacher(s) abroad to fill in their students’ name. On the top, add your school’s name and the school's abroad name. Include the Class grade and the class number, for example Class 2-1. The school(s) abroad will organize theirs by Class level and period, for example Japanese Level 2 Period 3.
Because the Japanese school year starts in April and the school(s) abroad start theirs few months later, it is best to have your students to begin the project first. From July, instruct your students to write their self-introduction letter. Then, the teacher(s) from the school abroad can hand out those letters in September. By the time the replies arrive back to Japan around October or November, have your students introduce a cultural topic, such as the Japanese’s New Year holidays. Then, have your students ask their pen pal what Christmas is like and how it differs from Japan. The next round of letters will be in February or March. So, it’s a good time for your students to introduce Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan. Then, for the last round of letters, which will be in the first term of the new school year, have your students write a thank you letter to their pen pal. You may even want to have your students include their contact information in their letter if they choose to continue to write to their pen pal independently. Around this same time, the new second year students entering into the project will start theirs. (And, if it is a club’s pen pal project continue as is until the members retire.)
A complete set of the pen pal curriculum is available for download to use in your class.
Cross-Cultural Pen Pal Exchange Project
The ideal schedule should follow something like this:
The letters have arrived! And, you no longer have to hear your students asking you the same question over and over of whether the letters have come or not. By now, they are filled with excitement. But, before you do anything, make sure all the teachers who are involved in this pen pal project take part in sorting those letters out. And then, the letters can be distribute to the classes.
Alternatively, you can lead your students, such as the English club, to do the job for you. Because what they can gain from this opportunity, is a new skill of being accountable for their classmates - who depend on them for their letter. Another skill, which is more of a cultural experience, is to have one or two of them in each school term fill out the international postal mailing form(s) in English. This will alleviate your workload (especially in the first term when the pen pal project enters into its transition period) and at the same time, you can teach your students about cooperation.