Bonjour Pen Pal
Students in French class make friends around the world through writing letters
April 12, 2017
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The French program has been participating in a pen pal partnership with a high school in France for three years. Through the program, students increase their communication skills and learn more about the country whose language they are studying.
“Since 2015, Rouse has had an official ‘partner’ school in France: Lycée Jean-Baptiste Corot, in Douai France (northern France, not far from the city of Lille, and the country of Belgium),” French teacher Joanna Kuwajima said.
Senior Jonathan Akene enjoys that one of the many aspects of the program is corresponding with a student from another country.
“Having a pen pal from another side of the world is mind boggling, but it’s interesting how much we have in common with each other, even though we live completely different and separate lives,” Akene said.
When students write their letters, their level of communication depends on how long they have taken French. New students may write in English, and later in part English/part French, while upper levels write in all French.
“Earlier in the year, students wrote letters to introduce themselves and explain their activities, etc.,” Kuwajima said. “Then, teachers matched up students based on interests, and who we thought might be a good fit.”
Junior James Chavez said he has learned a lot from the program and enjoys the opportunity to connect with another culture and language.
“The fact that we’re able to communicate using each other’s language is a good sign we are progressing in our learning,” Chavez said. “We write them letters in French, and they write back in English. It’s pretty funny reading them, because they, too, are learning a foreign language. It makes me think about how I must sound when writing simple French sentences.”
Kuwajima said all students get a lot from the program, and it is a valuable part of their learning process. Her desire is to see students continue to keep in touch with their pen pals and further connect through their bond.
“We are hoping for a group of students from our partner school to visit Rouse next spring, and stay with host families for about a week.” Kuwajima said. “If possible, students will get to stay with the families of their pen pals.”