As I skip around the globe teaching English, one of my favorite traditions is coordinating a pen pal program between the Soulshine kids in Atlanta, Georgia and my international ESL students. As a child, I remember writing to my pen pal in Hawaii and being ecstatic every time I found a new letter for me in the mailbox.
Now, as a teacher, I get to enjoy seeing these same ecstatic faces on my students. I love seeing them run for the dictionary and watching them rack their brains for the perfect words to describe themselves to a complete stranger. Every few minutes my Princes and Princesses would raise their hands and ask me how to spell a new word that they’ve never used before. I love this aspect of writing letters to pen pals–it allows my students to use English for a purpose, beyond the classroom, beyond their country’s borders. Only a week has passed since our letter writing activity and they don’t know that I haven’t yet had the chance to send them to America, but already they are asking me if there is anything for them in the mailbox.