While teaching middle school in Pakistan, I coordinated with a teacher friend back in the US to have a penpal exchange between our students. We had them write snail mail to each other, and they loved it. The 8th grade boys seemed a lot more excited about writing letters to “Alison” or “Shakila” than to write their regular assignments.
A few months ago I learned about PikiFriends, an online penpal tool for high school and middle school teachers. Founder and ESL educator Jeffrey Dionne describes the program:
PikiFriends is a free online ‘penpal’ program made for junior and senior high school students and teachers only. Member students and teachers manage their own personal profiles and communicate with each other in a variety of ways using English. The main goals of PikiFriends are to improve English communication skills and to learn proper ‘Netiquette’. Currently about 2000 members from schools in 14 countries are using PikiFriends.
To learn more visit PikiFriends.net or check out some of the new sample curriculum linked to below (links will download pdfs):