Janet Foryan's fourth-grade students at Good Shepherd Catholic School in St. Johnsbury have been corresponding as pen pals with students from the English as a Second Language program at St. Johnsbury Academy, taught by Katy Smith. The Academy students are from Japan, China, Finland and Germany.
The project has been exciting and informative for both groups of students. The fourth graders have been learning new things about the lives of students in foreign countries, and the Academy students are in turn, learning about American customs and practicing their English in a meaningful way.
The pen pals met recently for the first time at the Fairbanks Museum. Everyone enjoyed a scavenger hunt around the museum. As the students progressed through the museum, they shared stories, looked at exhibits, and engaged in conversational language.
When asked for their reaction to this project, the fourth graders agreed that it has been a lot of fun getting to know someone from another country. They enjoyed getting to know them through letters and then actually meeting them face to face. Many learned words from their pen pals' native tongues and were surprised to learn that most of the Academy students were unfamiliar with Halloween.
Foryan said that she appreciated the collaborative relationship Good Shepherd shares with the Academy. This project has been an excellent opportunity for enrichment for everybody involved.