E-Pal ProgramE-Pal Program, short for electronic pen-pal, was initiated between Belchertown Schools in Belchertown, MA and Tongren, Guizhou, China. Both students and teachers exchange e-mails to learn about each others culture, traditions, and society. The students in one country enjoy the freedom of learning about another culture in another country while practicing writing in English. For most, this is the first time they have talked with a foreigner.
With the advances in electronic telecommunications, students are able to obtain an e-mail and communicate with students half way around the world. In the US, many homes have a PC with simple and easy communications to the internet. In China, there are a growing number of PCs in homes and many students can use PCs in the school computer laboratory or the local internet cafe. In any case, the students enjoy talking back and forth and learning about their respective activities, traditions and customs. Students quickly learn holidays are different and celebrated differently. The learning is quick and fun. Students tend to be uninhibited in their desire to exchange e-mails with another student of another country.
Chinese teachers are often more reserved for they are hesitant to communicate in English with another teacher for fear of making a mistake. Particularly in China, the English teacher in most cases has had limited joy and experience communicating with another teacher whose primary language is English. All teachers are extremely busy so they have limited time for e-mail but once they try it they quickly realize the fun with E-Pal.
This program was launched in 2008 with much success. If you are interested in the E-Pal program, do not hesitate to contact Zimmer Foundation for China about getting started. Let us hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org.