Friends from Afar

Spanish Classes Write Letters to Penpals


Photo by Aahana Mulchandani

Spanish students in Rhonda Bynell’s class are currently undergoing the letter exchanging process with the bilingual class of Noel’s Elementary. It has been an ongoing system, and both sets of students like the exchange. “I hope whoever gets my letter likes what I wrote,” Sandy said. “Spanish is a fun class, and I hope that they can understand what I wrote.”

Aahana Mulchandani, Reporter

This year, like many others in the past, Spanish teacher Rhonda Bynell started the pen pals letter exchange with Noel’s Elementary School. It is a tradition of over five years, Spanish students exchanging letters with the elementary school’s bilingual class. 

Their first letters were sent out, and the Spanish students were told to write their letter completely in Spanish and were allowed to draw inspiration from a prompt. However, there are a few restrictions when writing letters, as contact information outside of teacher supervision is not allowed.

“I had a lot of fun writing my first letter to the kids,” Sophomore Camille Sandy said. “We wrote about our interests and hobbies. I had fun writing my first letter, and I even put extra decoration on the card I sent out!”

Bynell explained that both the bilingual class and the Spanish students are able to utilize their communication skills, according to Bynell. However, there can sometimes be a small gap between responses.

“It always depends on the other teachers and how busy they are,” Bynell said. “Sometimes it can be like two weeks or four  or five weeks.”

During the pandemic, the Spanish classes would try to communicate using virtual methods. Some of the cards would be photographed by the teachers and emailed back and forth.

“The year before we shut down, I had a Spanish 3 class that used to get letters back and the kids would draw pictures,” Bynell said. “It was really cute and my kids really enjoyed it.”

The students are waiting for a reply to their letters, despite sending them out quite a while back. However, they’re expecting word back soon.

“I can’t wait to get a letter back,” Sandy said. “It’s going to be so exciting to hear back from whoever it is, and I’m honestly pretty excited to send out my next letter. I’m so pumped.”

The language barrier between the students can prove to be problematic, as the elementary schoolers are trying to learn English while the highschoolers are learning Spanish. However, the students do not seem to pay this much mind.

“It will definitely affect our ability to communicate with students who do not speak English,” Sophomore Alexis Badorek said. “But we’re both learning, so it’s not going to be perfect.”

The main focus of this exchange is to help the students become more familiarized with the other language. The students will be writing to each other in the language that they’re not quite comfortable with yet, however some students are taking away some learning skills.

“I think my Spanish skills have improved a little bit,” Badorek said. “I’m able to use my own words in Spanish and I was able to write about how highschool is like and how fun it is.”

Not only is it to help the students learn to communicate, but it can be a unique experience for both sets of students.

“I think it’s good for the elementary school kiddos to know that there are kids at the highschool level who are learning their language and that are at a beginning level,” Bynell said. “It also helps to know that there are older kids that care about them enough to write back.”