ISA PEN-PAL PROGRAMME
The ISA Pen-pal programme has been in the making since 2020, and it’s now about to become a reality allowing interactions between students and teachers from around the world. While this activity seems small, it is fair to quote Vincent Van Gogh by saying that “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”. Our intention is to provide a channel to bridge relationships between our school members from diverse cultures. In order for this to happen, we need to encourage our students and teachers to have regular exchanges as penpals and at the same time promote literacy, writing and communication skills.
For little kids ISA will create a friendly and more controlled environment to interact, older kids and adults will receive a list of emails through their school contact person, to discuss the proposed agenda, and encourage frequency of exchanges, motivation, open-mindedness and language development.
The following are general guidelines that will help ensure a positive experience for all individuals involved. The school’s contact person will be asked to accept and acknowledge these guidelines before receiving their lists for the programme.
- All participants will use the ISA Pen-Pal Programme for its intended purposes.
- Each school is responsible for the nature of the content, ensuring a minimum exchange of four interactions per month, under the suggested programme.
- ISA expects that participants will converse with respect at all times, and will not submit false or inaccurate information.
- Schools will maintain the positive attitude and encourage them to ask a series of meaningful questions, in order to keep motivation at all times.
- Everyone involved should commit to respond to their pen-pal in a reasonable amount of time – everyone will be anxious to get a response and with a comparable amount of content.
- Participants can also make their own agreements to increase/decrease frequency
- Our ISA Project coordinator is available to provide assistance during the pen-pal relationship. Please contact Laura De Grazia with any questions or programme feedback. We want to ensure a positive experience!
A few recommendations
- Early birds, rather than night owls: Begin working on the project with your students as early as possible, so that we can maximize the number of interactions that participants can have.
- Setting clear rules will guarantee the best experience for all: Be clear about the frequency of exchanges and the ISA suggested topics, in line with UN dates. For example, mention how often each pen-pal will write and how quickly the other should write back. Make sure you can also find connections between what’s being discussed and each other’s lesson programme. Make sure your plan is realistic for both the teacher and the students.
- Safety is a matter of us all: Enhancing a pen-pal exchange means to incorporate what’s relevant in our classes. Perhaps using a decorated bulletin board to display what’s relevant could ensure students are sharing what’s right for each context, and allows you to guide the process internally; each school may or may not create internal policies to ensure security processes are correctly addressed, and parents can be reassured , rather than alarmed; include teachers from all areas to participate in the exchange with teachers from other ISA schools, since they will be as engaged as the students; you may let us know if there’s something we can incorporate as part of our ISA policies, if you think we can make the programme more attractive and enriching for everybody! Please don’t hesitate to contact us in case of any alarming or inadequate situation that may arise.
Suggested topics for the year:
Pen pals should begin the relationship with a letter of introduction, sharing a bit about themselves and asking a question of their pen pal. Here are some ideas to help break the ice! You can tell your pen pal about:
- Your family and where you live
- Your pet/s,
- Your school and/or favorite subjects / school’s calendar
- Your favorite activities, books, or movie
Talk about traditional food, personal preferences in that regard, and landmarks in your country. Share ideas of the places you’ve always wanted to visit worldwide and what you know/what you want to know about your pen-pal’s country of origin.
DECEMBER / JANUARY
Talk about local traditions for the end of year, what you enjoy the most about the season, the weather during that time and what you normally do.
Talk about your mother language, its origin, most frequently used words and expressions, talk about second languages at school and perhaps discuss what you are currently doing at school that motivates you.
The role of women in your country, what they normally do, how’s family life in your country/culture, jobs they may/may not have. Another aspect to include could be poetry, exchanging typical rhymes/poems from each country.
Talk about sports, what you like playing, what sports your school promotes, leagues you may follow, etc. Another important aspect to address can be talking about media and social networks (perhaps for older students), how they use these, what they think are advantages/disadvantages, how technology may/may not have an impact on health, etc.
Final conclusions of this programme, share personal experiences, good-bye letters.