Once you’ve found a pen pal, it’s time to write your first letter.
This can be a scary task because you want to express yourself well and make a good first impression. But don’t stress yourself too much here; it’s supposed to be a fun process where you learn from your mistakes!
One of the great things about the CEFR language framework is that the levels progress in the same way as getting to know someone would. This means pen pal letters are accessible no matter what level you’re at.
As an A1 (beginner) learner, you may only be able to ask them their name, where they’re from, what their hobbies are and which music they listen to. That might also be all the information you’re able to give about yourself. But that’s great! Many conversations start around these topics anyway.
If you’d like a simple structure for your first letter, I’d recommend something like this:
- Introduction: Say a little about who you are, where you’re from, and why you wanted a pen pal.
- Talk about your shared interests: Mention some of the shared interests that made you want to write to them. What did you feel you could bond over and why?
- Ask some questions about their life: What information do you want to learn about them?
- Mention what you’ll be doing between now and their next letter: This will give them something to write to you about. For example, if you’re going to a concert that could prompt a question in their next letter.
- Sign off: Thank them for reading your letter, let them know where to contact you, and let them know you’re looking forward to their response.
To keep the conversation going and ensure your pal writes back to you, it’s important to be curious. Ask questions about their life, take an interest in who they are and talk about the things that matter to both of you. And when writing about yourself, you’ll sound more interesting if you describe one or two events in detail rather than gloss over several events. For example, if talking about a party, don’t just say, “The food was good and everyone had a nice time”. Mention something funny or memorable that happened, or describe the food or the ambience in some detail.