Letter 1: Introduction

How do you do?


In this first letter, the students are going to introduce themselves. Point out to them that a letter should never be an enumeration of facts. Just answering questions asked by their partners or from the questionnaires will not produce an interesting letter.

As this is the first letter they are going to write, you might want to point out the necessity of conventions, paragraphs, etc. If you just want to use the e-mail conventions, it might be a good idea to point out the difference between e-mail and ordinary letters. In this way, you will prevent misunderstandings when, during English lessons, the students will have to write a "normal" English letter.  

Try to make it clear to the students that a letter should be an exchange of ideas. The idea behind the project is that students, by exchanging letters and making use of some of the Internet facilities,  such as building Webpages, participating in chats or forums, exchanging  materials like photos and videos,   will build up an image of children from other cultures in other countries.

In this first letter, the students will be given a large number of possible sentences into which they can put their own data.
This letter is only meant to be a short introduction. Students will have to give: name, sex, age, family, background, character, interests, appearance, likes, dislikes.

Several of these subjects will be touched on later in the series, so an extensive description is not necessary.

On the whole, it is always a good idea to have the students write a rough draft on paper first. This assignment could be given as homework. Some students that may have access to a computer at home can make their first draft on their word processor and save it on a floppy disk. 

When you have advised the students and made suggestions for corrections, they can either type it in or make the corrections directly in the text, if they have used a word processor from the beginning. The product can be saved either on their own floppy disks (or on the Intranet-server). 

Of course, the procedure you choose will depend on the level of English at which the students work and the number of computers accessible both at school and at home. They can use the computer immediately and correct their work afterwards using the word processor.

Always read your students' letters. Students can sometimes get carried away and use embarrassing language which might ruin your partnership.

Make sure that there is access to dictionaries (books or electronic) during the periods the students are writing their letters. 

Other ideas

Along with the letters students can send attachments of photos or drawings (self-portraits) of themselves. For this purpose they can use either a scanner or a digital camera, depending on the equipment available at school.

Using a video camera or digital video camera students can produce a  video of the class in which each one of them will shortly introduce himself/herself just by saying the name, age and a word that describes his/her personality. This video can be sent along with the letters or published in the school website, or sent via snail-mail.

They can also organise videoconference to introduce themselves directly in real time a the involved schools which have this possibility.

The above exchanges can function as a way of bringing students closer to each other. They will have a more concrete idea of who their partners are and this can hopefully lead to a deeper engagement in the development of the project and in the establishment of stronger ties between the students involved. 

Remember that beforehand you have to discuss these ideas with your partners and decide if you want to develop all the activities or just some of them. It will greatly depend on the technical possibilities you have at school and  on your skills to use them for the project purposes and of course on the willingness of your students to communicate this way as well.



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