Students Practice Spanish Through Pen Pals


Chanelle Camero

     The level three Spanish classes of MHS assigned their students pen pals for the second year in a row. The pen pal students are from different schools including, Waipahu High School, Leilehua High School, Lakeview High School in Columbus, Nebraska, and World Wise School in Manzanillo del Mar, Colombia.

    “The purpose of the pen pal letters would have to be to get more practice in on speaking Spanish and making it fun by talking to someone that’s your age,” said Sophomore Sarah Olivieri.

    Writing to pen pals helps students with their Spanish and benefits them by giving them more opportunities to practice their grammar. “I think the main purpose of this is just improving on our fluency in the language because we can study vocabulary all day, but it’s significantly harder to form the words into sentences and writing these letters gives us the practice we need,” said Senior Alexis Kelly.

    Through these letters, the students are able to share their cultural values and personal lives with one another. “We write about a lot in our letters with the theme usually having to do with what we’re learning at the moment,” said Kelly.

    The pen pal project helps with both MHS’ Spanish classes and Colombia’s English classes. “Having pen pals all the way from Colombia is so cool because they’re trying to learn English and we’re trying to learn Spanish and there’s no one better to learn from than those who speak it so it’s a great learning opportunity for both of us,” said Kelly.

    Additionally, the students at MHS and Colombia also exchange videos of themselves. “There is also a sense of mystery of who their pen pals are. Our Waipahu and Colombia pen pals use Flipgrid and we are able to record short videos to send to each other. This allows us to actually see and hear them, which you don’t get from just the letters, so we like this new way of communicating. It’s also great because students are practicing their communication standards and skills in various platforms,” said Spanish teacher Osiris Santos. Olivieri added, “The videos are about one minute and thirty seconds long and are in Spanish and English.”

    Although the letters and videos have taught the students a lot, there have also been some setbacks. “Some challenging parts is getting the letter back and not understanding a sentence or a question. Also in the Flipgrid when we make videos for each other, it is difficult to understand since they talk so fast,” said Olivieri. “I ask my friends in the class to help me figure it out and if they can understand what my pen pal is saying on the video. Whatever I can’t understand, I will ask the teacher for some help or use a Spanish dictionary.”

    The pen pal project will continue for the rest of March, along with a Skype session where they can speak face to face.