Penpal Exchanges (E-mail Tandem)
Suggestions for teachers
(adapted from TESOL Newsletter CALL-IS, Vol. 12, No. 2, Feb. 1995)
Have all students collaborate to send one message, or have individuals write to other individuals.
Establish equivalent expectations of frequency, length, and content of electronic mail.
1. Find and identify appropriate penpals in an electronic discussion forum. For possible sites, see Email Exchange Groups.
2. Sign on the list yourself and read the mail for a week or two before you decide whether to use it with your students.
3. Write a clear and detailed letter to the list explaining your purpose in soliciting volunteers.
4. Write to each volunteer.
5. Screen your students' first two letters.
6. Discuss with your students the form (memo) and style (formal/ informal, depending on the audience) of e-mail communication, including emoticons and netiquette (see E-mail Communication: Netiquette and Emoticons).
7. Establish a purpose for the exchange (and for each e-mail message), for example a question the students need to find the answer to by asking their penpal.
8. Encourage students to share any questions, problems, or the like with you.
9. Provide instruction to your students on how to end the e-mail relationship, or encourage students to continue writing to their penpals.
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Last Updated: May 11, 2013
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