How to Find a Pen Pal from a Foreign Country
There are so many fun ways to experience cultures other than your own. You could watch a foreign film or cook a meal inspired by a different country. Or you could write letters to someone from across the sea! Pen pals can be from all around the world, and are especially beneficial to have if you’re learning a new language.
Whether you’re someone who enjoys exchanging letters or someone looking to learn about a different way of life, pen, ink and parchment bring life to the art of making friends from all around the world.
What is a Pen Pal?
A pen pal is a friend who you make through exchanging letters. Usually, a pen pal is someone who you’ve never met, but get to know because you share common interests. You can develop a friendship over time.
International pen pals are great because they give you an insight into life in another country - a benefit you offer them as well. If you’re learning a foreign language, having a pen pal is an excellent way to improve your grammar and spelling, while telling stories and sharing experiences.
The Types of Pen Pals
Handwritten letters are a special thing. The time and care that goes into a letter can be felt from the moment it reaches the hands of the recipient. Letter writing gives the writer a chance to slow down and deeply consider what it is they want to say. It’s that deep consideration that gives letters their sentimental value. Plus, there’s something incredibly satisfying about writing with a good pen.
Many foreign language teachers would argue that writing by hand is the best way to practise accuracy when it comes to grammar in a foreign language. So not only are you sending a little part of your heart to your pen pal via snail mail, but you’re also improving a new skill!
Remember that it’s called snail mail for a reason - the postal service takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a reply from your pen pal right away. It can take a while for a letter to make its way across the world.
There are some things to keep in mind while you’re drafting your first letter to your new pen pal. You should introduce yourself and share a bit about what you’re interested in. Be sure to ask your pen pal plenty of questions about what they like, too. This will encourage them to reply!
To make your letter memorable, try to include a little story of something you experienced recently. For example, you could share something you found funny from a movie you saw or you could talk about the TV shows you’re binge watching during quarantine. Make a couple of recommendations for them and ask for their opinions on what they’ve been watching.
Not so keen on writing letters? No problem! There are many different types of pen pals that don’t include snail mail.
EMAIL PEN PALS
If you are impartial to letters sent by mail, you can still get to know a foreign friend thanks to modern technology. There are multiple digital alternatives to handwriting letters. Many people prefer to email their pen pals, as a free and easy means of communication. Seeing a response from a foreign friend in your inbox is just as rewarding as receiving a letter in the mail.
It’s normal to check in with your pen pal weekly or bi-weekly, but once you get to talking you and your new friend will find a rhythm of writing that works for the both of you.
OTHER VIRTUAL COMMUNICATIONS
If you prefer to keep conversations snappy, instant messaging is a great option. It’s quick, easy and used almost every day by young people, so you won’t necessarily have to wait a long time for a reply.
Connecting to your pen pal by sending voice recordings and video messages, and through live video chats are a few other ways to keep in touch with your foreign friend.
How to Find International Pen Pals from Around the World
Back in the day, those seeking pen pals would put an advertisement in magazines and newspapers. Nowadays, there are plenty of digital platforms to help you find pen pals from around the world.
Some apps, like HelloTalk, are designed for people looking for friends to practise a new language with. Through text, voice calls, video calls and more, you teach your pen pal your native language while they teach you theirs. You can easily find a foreign pal from a country that speaks the language you’re trying to learn and become connected within minutes.
Other platforms, like PenpalsNow, offer space for you to advertise your search for a pen pal and offer plenty of preexisting ads for you to comb through, making it simple to find a new friend with interests similar to your own.
Once you spend some time getting to know your pen pal, you may be surprised by the long-lasting relationship you build. Some pen pals stay in touch for their lifetimes, and others have ended up getting married. You never know how special the bond you’ll build will be until you start writing.
For language learners, pen pals are the best friends you could have to encourage you to keep studying. Everyone is in the same boat - interested in learning something new about another culture and learning a foreign language.
The pen pal community is not only a place for friendship, but for encouragement and inspiration. It can be such a joyful feeling to correctly draft a sentence in the language you're learning. Everyone wants to be understood. When we can be understood while using a second language, it’s that much more gratifying.
Do you have a pen pal from a foreign country? Leave us a comment and let us know where they are from and how long you’ve known them! We’re always looking forward to hearing from you. If you’re looking for fun topics of conversation to share with your pen pal, take a look at our other blog posts.