Language study motivation tip: Pen pals and online friends

Through all my years of study, I’ve found that one of the best ways to stay motivated is to regularly communicate with people who speak the language I’m learning.

For those students who do not have friends or family who can help them with this, having a pen pal can prove to be a fantastic alternative. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it’s a wonderful way to practice your writing, spelling, and grammar in a practical setting. By reading your pen pal’s writing, it will help you to pick up good habits, and in wanting to better communicate with them, it can encourage you to learn a little faster than you might do otherwise.

There are so many options to pick from now with all of the freedom offered by the internet. Aside from traditional snail mail, you might consider email, dedicated websites or apps, and even instant messaging if you’d prefer faster, more immediate conversation.

These varied options also allow you to tailor an experience that best suits your needs. You could choose to go for something more formal, or something a bit more casual. You could connect with someone who is simply interested in teaching you their language, or you might meet someone who will teach you in exchange for you helping them with English.

If it’s something you’re interested in, here are some of the options you might consider…

  • Email

For those students who are nervous to hand out their home address to a stranger (and rightly so), email can prove a safer alternative. It also boasts the advantages of being cheaper, faster, and easier to write. After all, there’s no need to worry about bad spelling when you have a spelling checker installed for the appropriate language.

Email is also a good option for those who would prefer the ease of sharing websites, videos, and other internet resources while learning.

  • Websites and Apps

There are a countless number of websites and apps available for those who are looking to connect with people who are fluent in the relevant language. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are websites available that are structured around a more formal learning experience, aimed at connecting you with tutors and lessons; or you could choose for something a bit more casual – allowing you the opportunity to simply meet and chat with people who speak the language you’re learning.

For those who would prefer a shorter and faster form of communication, instant messenger services are also a good option.

  • Snail Mail

Then for those who prefer the whimsy of traditional snail mail, there is of course the option of post. If the idea of buying a dedicated letter set and sending or receiving small gifts from another country makes you light up, this might be your best option.

In a world where everything seems to be turning more digital, it can feel like a breath of fresh air to receive a personalised letter that has been written specifically for you. For those who enjoy bullet journals, keeping detailed organisers, or for those who simply love the idea of getting mail that has travelled a good distance of the globe to reach you, this can be another really fun way of staying motivated while studying.

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Author: Ken Leong

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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