Have you ever thought about...
having your students do a pen pal project and experience something exciting, but just don’t know where to begin and how to maintain it? Well, you came to right place!
(*If your school is equipped with classroom technology, please check out Global Classmates - connecting Japanese schools with schools from abroad.)
First, what do you think the Pen Pal project means to your students?
A pen pal project gives students the opportunity to exchange letters abroad and make new friends. They can communicate through writing and learn about the world outside of their own. Through that experience, the motivation for Japanese students to study English increases because they can understand the benefits of learning a foreign language, as well be able to share and teach their own Japanese language and culture to their pen pal.
Who to exchange letters with?
The best match would be with schools from abroad that have a Japanese program. It can be a school project which all of the classes from one grade participate in exchanging letters (or between the English club and the Japanese club.)
Listen to a Japanese student reading his pen pal letter with his classmates. =>
Where to find these kinds of schools?
With some research on your end, you can find the resources you need and be able to establish a connection with the contact schools. Most teachers abroad won’t just jump into this project if they don’t know who you are, but try your best. Research your information by looking into a well-known organization, such as the Japan Foundation, an association for Teachers of Japanese, and any other. If your city or prefectural board of education already has a sister city program from abroad, then find out if you can contact those schools. There may even be a chance that you, the ALT (and the JTE with study abroad experience), have graduated from a school which has a Japanese program and from there on are further connections.
Have you found your contact school(s)?
You are getting closer to a new and an exciting adventure for yourselves, as the teachers of the English department, and the best of all, for your students! Here is an official letter example from a school abroad and is for you, the JTEs and the ALT, to get this from your contact school and give it to your school principal/BOE for approval. So, what's next?