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Pen Pals Around the World


English Language Arts (2005), Native Language Arts, Languages Other Than English, Social Studies (NYS K-12 Framework Common Core)

Grade Levels

Intermediate, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade


  • A rubric is used to assess written work.
  • Journal writing is evaluated.


Adapted from Nassau BOCES, Activities That Work




Students write letters and exchange information with a pen pal from a school in a country that speaks the language they are studying.


  • Teacher secures information on schools in other countries and obtains the names and addresses of students in that school interested in being pen pals.
  • Students select one of the pen pals and engage in an ongoing exchange of information about:
    • Themselves
    • Their families
    • Their friends
    • Everyday activities
    • Interests at home, school, and community
  • Using e-mail, digital cameras, scanners, and a webcam, students maintain an interactive communication with the pen pals.
  • Teacher arranges videoconferencing between the two classrooms so that the students have an opportunity for direct communication.
  • Students should alternate between speaking in English and the foreign language so that the students in both countries have an opportunity to practice speaking.


  • List of possible pen pals
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Digital camera, scanner, webcam
  • Stationery, postage


Foreign exchange students at the high school can be invited to speak with the class.


Adapted from Nassau BOCES, Activities That Work. Found as “Pen Pals Around the World.” In Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. New York State Department of Education, 125.

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