Last November, I made a decision that impacts my life everyday. It is something that a lot of people may overlook as being a huge impact on someone’s life. All I did was write a letter to my first ever pen pal.
In school, I am taking third year German as one of my electives. Learning German is a lot of fun for me now and I enjoy it very much, but about a year ago I began to feel odd about it. I felt as if I had done all this work to slowly start learning another language, but it wasn’t being used outside of school. I started thinking, what was the point of learning a language if I’m not using it?
For this reason I wrote a letter to a family member living in Germany and a few days later I received an email from a girl my age named Karina Reitz who was interested in being my pen pal. Since then, we have sent loads of emails, text messages, pictures, voice messages and we have even skyped a few times. People used to only have the option of sending letters and waiting when having a pen pal, but technology has brought the world closer together. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of the world’s advancements?
“My favorite thing is to write and skype with you and to see your other friends and get to know them,” Reitz wrote in a message. “I also like to see America from your side and to accompany you through the day with social media.”
I think more people should have pen pals, because the benefits are endless. Having a pen pal makes learning fun. Each sender writes in the other’s language so students can receive first hand information from someone who lives in another country. That person is a peek into that country and culture. Through this, people will be able to learn much about the culture, geography and language of that country.
While learning a new language, practicing a little everyday is the key, just like if someone were to learn an instrument or do a magic trick. There are some weeks where I will not go to my German class for three or four days because of the schedule and weekend. By having a pen pal, I am able to practice speaking and/or writing in German everyday. I’m also able to get immediate feedback if I mispronounce a word or spell something wrong.
Along with learning a new language, I’m also helping my pen pal learn English. We both try to correct each other if we say something incorrect and it gives our brain a reminder of how to correctly communicate next time. It’s also super fun making such a good friend that lives in another country.
One of the best reasons for having a pen pal is getting to learn the culture of another country. My pen pal and I often send pictures of different foods we are eating and different restaurants that we go to. We also explain to each other meanings of holidays and different traditions we might celebrate.
Pen pals are beneficial for students who aren’t taking a foreign language as well. People can make new friends and learn all about a country. Finding an English speaking or learning pen pal is very simple and soon students can be sending emails and letters in no time. Also, by talking to someone who lives on the other side of the world our school can become more accepting of other cultures and people.
I greatly encourage SHS students to get a pen pal. Getting one is super easy and it is completely free thanks to the Internet. All you have to do is talk to a teacher about your options, or there are several websites that find other people your age looking for pen pals. If more people get pen pals, our school can be better connected with the world.