Virtual Pen Pals: 5 Resources for Connecting Kids around the World

Connect across the globe.

Virtual Pen Pals

Pen pals make learning about another part of the world fun! Kids develop a more global perspective, increase their cultural understanding, and they just might just establish a lifelong friendship. Pen pals have evolved with the advent of technology, making it easier than ever to find a new, faraway friend. Bridge the distance with these 5 great virtual pen pals resources that connect kids around the world.

PenPal Schools

virtual pen pals

Created by teachers, PenPal Schools was designed to make global project-based learning easy. Simply choose a topic that relates to your subject matter and PenPal Schools will connect your class to a class of the same age/grade level. Entirely teacher moderated, kids can share their insight on 30+ current topics.

Topics consist of a final showcase project and collaborative lessons. Each collaborative lesson includes a video, an informational reading, and a discussion question. After students answer the discussion question, they can explore the responses from other PenPals enrolled in the project. Lessons can be completed in as little as 30-45 minutes and are flexible, so you could break them up throughout the week or complete them in one class period. Penpal Schools is currently offering free access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ePals

ePals can help you connect your students with other classes from around the world to exchange messages. Teachers choose the country, age range, language, and class size. Teachers moderate the conversations that all take place through the site’s ‘My Messages’ tool. There are two options for teachers: ‘Class-to-Class’ allows your students to privately message any student in your partner class(es); ‘Student-to-Student’ allows your students to message only their matched partner(s). ePals also lets teachers connect classes by subject matter via online project spaces, where students and teachers in one or more classrooms can collaborate on projects using Discussion Boards and other ePal messaging tools.

Students of the World

Students of the world is the largest online student penpal network with over 1 million kids registered around the world. Free and safe, you never need to register your email address nor any personal information as all messages are exchanged through the site’s mail app. Simply search for a country that you’re looking to learn more about, then search through the online profiles to find a student that matches your age and interests.

My Language Exchange

virtual pen pals

Language Exchange is the perfect opportunity for kids to put their world language skills to the test. Dig through the site’s community of millions of language learners around the world to find a penpal that matches age/grade level/interests. Then connect via the site’s protected, online messaging system or moderated voice chat room to communicate in your chosen target language. Choose from penpals that speak over 150 languages, from Albanian to Zulu.

PenPal World

If you are a parent looking for a penpal for your child who is now doing distance learning, head on over to PenPal World, where a whopping 2,300,000+ members from all around the world are looking to find a penpal of their very own, too. Simply sign up and add penpals that match age/interests. PenPal World offers a limited FREE account that allows you to contact up to 3 members within 24 hours. (Note: minors can block all adults on the site.)

Looking for more ideas on how to encourage a global perspective among your students? Check out our tips on how you can make your classroom a more diverse and global-friendly place.

Virtual Pen Pals: 5 Resources for Connecting Kids around the World

Posted by Amy Bizzarri

A 20+ year public high school teacher, Amy is also a freelance writer focused on education, women's history and travel.

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