Penpals have always had their role in learning new foreigner languages.
If you enjoy writing and connecting with other people, having a pen pal is a great way to support your language learning efforts.
As mentioned, the desire to connect with someone on the other side of the world and practice your language skills before getting to the country predates Internet access and the invention of chat applications . And the practice is still used today, despite all of the technology available to us.
Being a pen pal is a less intimidating way of connecting with someone while practicing your writing skills in your target language. Crafting a letter to send to someone can help you learn new vocabulary, practice talking about specific themes, and improve your grammar. Developing these friendships can also create opportunities to travel to countries and experience life there as a local.
Take The Guardian columnist Libby Page for example. As part of her school French course, she was connected with a girl called Juliette who came from a town in western France. Libby would send her letters in French and receive a response in English so that Juliette could practice her skills. Their letters would be filled with grammatical errors, and drawings to try and make their points clearer, but neither of them cared; they were learning by doing. After a few months, Libby had the opportunity to go to France where she stayed with Juliette and her family. They went to school and socialised together, and Libby experienced a side of French culture she couldn’t have seen by just going on vacation. An opportunity that wouldn’t have been available without her pen pal connection!