Read these few top tips to keep your letters ” en pointe!”

Having a pen pal is a fantastic way to improve your communication skills, get first-hand perspective into other cultures, and build empathy and people skills.

It’s the best way to acquire vital skills and secure an understanding of world cultures that you would not discover from a cursory Google search.

But, if you want to leverage these benefits, it’s integral that you first learn how to communicate with pen pals around the world, people who may not share the same worldview or linguistic skills as you.

Be Open Minded

To effectively communicate with an international pen pal, you need to be open to exploring new topics and perspectives. But there’s another aspect to effective communication, and that’s understanding that not everyone is familiar with events, objects, places, or phrases you know. You may take popping into Tesco for granted, but your pen pal may have never heard of the British supermarket or could think you’re on the verge of exploding every time you visit Tesco.

Furthermore, you may use expressions that otherwise seem innocuous to you but could be offensive in other cultures. The content of your letter could be regarded as rude if you don’t manage these liberties sensitively. For this reason, realize that you’re not chatting with a friend who has moved abroad, rather a stranger who may have no knowledge of your customs and are only familiar with their customs and traditions – in a way that may be unfamiliar to you. Therefore, when you’re writing, be sensitive and be open-minded to avoid misunderstandings.

Use Clear Language

Given that you could be writing to someone that doesn’t have a firm grasp of English, be sure your writing is easy to understand. You should avoid complicated words and run-on sentences. If you’re having trouble determining whether your language is easy to understand – as you may understand it perfectly – take a day or two away from your letter, come back, and read it under the guise that it has to be easy to understand for a 10-year-old. If a 10-year-old could read and understand the letter in one go, then anyone could read and understand the letter.

This doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your writing. It can be compelling and intriguing but also easy to read – the trick is to find a way to balance the two.

Consider Sending Images

If you have difficulty describing something in detail in your letter, consider sending images to accompany the letter, making it easier for your pen pal to visualise what you’re describing. For example, if you describe something like finding deals at Tesco or visiting a friend for tea, you could capture pictures of your shopping trip at Tesco or tea time date. By taking pictures of your daily life to share with your pen pal, you’re also making the experience of having a pen pal more appealing.

Keep Letters Concise

When you’re first introduced to a pen pal, you should try to keep letters concise. Under 600 words would be ideal. The reason for this is so that each letter should focus on one idea or subject while ensuring your pen pal remains engaged in the topic until the end. Additionally, by keeping the letter short, you’re making it easier for them to frame a response, essentially encouraging them to write back.

Separate Ideas into Paragraphs

Besides writing concisely, another way to formulate a compelling letter is to ensure each paragraph introduces or substantiates an idea. It helps you write more effectively while being easy reading for your pen pal. Remember, you could be writing to someone that may not have the time to read one lengthy paragraph or who may become overwhelmed with the subject.

Review Grammar and Spelling

But, the most critical component to developing communication with a pen pal is to exercise good grammar and spelling. We spend so much time texting and using informal writing that we are often unaware that we are using those same mannerisms in a letter.

If it may not seem like such a big deal because most people write informally these days, think about a time when you were reading a paragraph online and wondered why the writer didn’t use any punctuation? Punctuation can change the entire tone of the letter as it reveals what you’re emphasizing.

Then, you may have one understanding of a slang term or phrase, but someone else may think it means something else, changing the meaning of your letter entirely.

Therefore, when you review your letter, spend time fixing your errors to make it easy to read for your pen pal. We think there are so many tools to help you such as Thesaurus Online which helps not only with correct spelling but also some more interesting alternative words and if you really want to get the Grammar ” spot on” then Grammarly is another interesting website

When talking to someone face-to-face, you have vocal or facial cues to help you assess their tone, something you don’t have when you’re writing. For this reason, the way you frame your letter, the words you choose, and how you decide to punctuate determine how the pen pal understands it.

If you’re dealing with an international pen pal, these basics will define whether you can effectively communicate with each other as the relationship progresses.

Once you have mastered all of the above, then why not join a Pen Pal Club to enhance your chances of finding really interesting pen pals . Hit the link and find out more.

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