Whether you are thinking of relocating to Spain, or simply visiting on holiday, having a Spanish penpal is a great way of learning more about the country and improving your Spanish language skills.
Of course you can chat to new Spanish friends online but, speaking personally, I have always found it useful to physically write things down as I learn them. It helps to cement the new Spanish vocabulary and grammar into your brain. This is where writing physical letters to a Spanish penpal can really help.
A recent study of penpals as part of a cultural exchange, found that participants learned particularly about cultural practices and experiences, overcoming adversities in their country and enjoyed discussing shared experiences with each other. All of this is so valuable when you are jetting off to a different country – you can even make some new friends.
How to find a penpal online
If you are looking for a Spanish penpal, there are many dedicated websites that can help you to find someone that is right for you. Global Penfriends is free to register and you don’t need to provide any personal financial information. You simply complete your profile and then search to find someone that you want to correspond with. Penpal World is another reputable website to find a Spanish penpal. They have strict rules about content, making sure that conversations are definitely PG-rated. If you are in England, you can send your letters and postcards to Spain through Royal Mail. If you are in America, you can print postage stamps online with OnlineStamp and then simply leave your correspondence with your mail carrier.
Penpals for students
If you are a student looking to find a Spanish penpal, you may be able to do this through your school or college. Many language departments take part in a penpal correspondence scheme that is designed to help you to improve your language skills, get better at written communication and make new friends. The eTwinning project is another great scheme that is pairing up with European schools to help boost education and arrange development, through penpalling and online communication.
Learning about Spanish etiquette and customs
If you are visiting Spain, it really helps to learn about the etiquette and customs before you arrive. Having a penpal can help with this and you can compare how your cultures differ. For instance good manners are essential when you are in Spain. If you are talking to strangers then “please” and “thank you” goes a long way. You can expect plenty of enthusiastic greetings too. The Spanish don’t hold back on kissing on both cheeks if they are pleased to see you. Discussing the difference in manners between England and Spain with your penpal can be interesting and fun. It may even change your own perspective.
Improve your Spanish skills
Regular letter writing is great for helping with grammar, spelling and learning about idioms and slang. For instance in English, if we are joking we might say “you’re pulling my leg.” In Spain we use the phrase “Tomar el pelo” which translates as “to take the hair.” Not only will you be able to improve your written skills, you can broaden your understanding of the language and start to use it in general conversation.
Getting a Spanish penpal can give you a new perspective on the country and daily life. You can boost your language skills and make some new friends. And in return you can help your new Spanish penpal learn a little English too.