Penpals from France can definitely help you reach your goal to be fluent in French. The more you will practice, the faster you will learn and having a penpal is one of the fun ways to study a foreign language.
The benefits of having penpals from France
Improve written expression and oral communication
One of the many benefits you will get from having a penpal definitely is the improvement of written expression : Writing a letter in the target language requires you to think in this language, to remember grammar rules you already learnt, use the vocabulary, conjugations, etc. All of the notions you have learnt so far will finally have a purpose : being understood by a native French-speaking person! Using what you studied in real life will facilitate the memorization of it. Also having a penpal does not only have to be mail exchange but it can also be phone exchange or even videoconferences. Imagine how having penpals from France would enhance your oral communication in French. Understanding and being understood are the ultimate goals for anybody learning a foreign language.
Learn the daily language
What’s best than learning directly from the source : French people! You are most certainly aware that some expressions, idioms or vocabulary are not found in books nor in courses. However, they are used all the time in French and you might miss a whole part of the language if you don’t know about those. Having a conversation with a native person will without any doubt give you an insight of the daily language that is actually used in the country. Whether it is written (the way to use certain sentences or dialect) or spoken (intonation or prononciation for instance), French language will reveal its secrets to you!
Know more about culture and daily life
Thousands of native French-speaking would love to share their daily habits and their culture with foreigners. So why not grasp this chance to know more about French culture? Learning a language also means digging into its history, books, believes,… Your penpal will most certainly be able to answer your questions about France. In return, you will also be able to share your own culture and compare the differences/similarities between both cultures. Being different but being alike at the same time : this is what makes this kind of exchange rewarding and enlightening.
Having penpals from France is not only a great method to improve your French skills but it is also a great way to make friends, sometimes for life! Discussing with a total stranger from a country you culturally enjoy is a fantastic opportunity for you to develop a deep friendship. Helping each other in the target language can be a very good cement to build a long-term relatonship.
… and meet friends!
And who knows? That could be a wonderful occasion to visit France and your penpal! At least, you would know somebody from the inside, which is always good as he/she can give you some travel tips. Moreover, you will actually see the results of your hard work! For instance, 40 years after the first letter they sent to each other, my mother-in-law is still friends with her penpal from England. They regularly email each other and visit each other as well.
My only wish for you is that you find the right penpal
and that you have a lifelong friendship!
How to make the first contact?
Before finding the right penpal from France, you will probably go through many profiles, chat with a lot of people and be disappointed by some of them, but don’t worry, you will eventually find THE ONE for you 🙂
First of all, you will need to introduce yourself (click here if you don’t know how to introduce yourself in French yet). Be spontaneous, be nice, be sincere and have fun! Upload a nice profile picture of your real self (not from 20 years ago 🙂 ) and indicate your passions. That way, people looking for penpals from your country will be appealed by your description. Who would like to have a dull, boring and too serious penpal? Nobody!
Define the rules
Once you (finally!) find somebody who matches your requirements, set up some rules : Letters, emails or audio ? Will you speak French and he/she speaks English all the time or do you switch language every other month or every 10 minutes for example? How often do you want to write to each other? Those are important points to clarify before starting the relationship otherwise one of you might feel frustrated if the exchange is not as expected.
How to react when you don’t know how to react!
I need to warn you : There might be topics in which you won’t feel at ease. And that is also part of the cultural differences you will encounter throughout your conversations. If you are not comfortable with the subject, simply say it : “Je ne me sens pas confortable avec ce sujet, je suis désolé(e). Peut-on changer de sujet?” (“I don’t feel comfortable with the topic, I am sorry. Can we just change subject?“). There should not be any problem.
You can also explain that you are not used to talk about this or that subject (religion, politics,…) and that for now, you are not open to it but you might be later. You can also reassure your penpal by telling him/her that if he feels the same way about a topic you will discuss, he can definitely let you know if he/she does not enjoy the subject.
If you are discussing by phone or videoconference, there might also be times when you just don’t get a single word because your interlocutor speaks too fast or with words you did not learn yet. Don’t hesitate to ask him/her to repeat slowly or to rephrase it. When you are the one talking to your penpal, keep that in mind : Don’t talk too fast (normal pace is fine as you also want your penpal to progress) and understandable vocabulary.
How to find penpals from France?
Thanks to Internet, it is easy to have access to penpals’ directories. However, all of the websites do not have the same audience. Check those and find the right one for you!
Penpalworld.com is a website on which you can find long-term penpals from France. I call this kind of website “websites like good old times“. The design is outdated and its functions are limited but it does the job when it comes to finding a penpal.
HelloTalk is an app to download on your phone. I used to have it as it is super easy to use. The only thing to do is registering and then you can chat with whomever you wish to. You can also do vocals or calls. There is also an activity feed on which you can post.
Tandem is also an app. What makes it different from the others is the fact that you can rate your penpal (what a concept…!). At least, you will know right away if your penpal is seriously looking for a long exchange or only for some chit-chat when he/she is getting bored (that can also be fun from time to time though!).
My Language Exchange also belongs to the really old-fashioned website, just like PenpalWorld. However, you are more likely to find penpals from France looking for long exchanges than on the apps. Remember when we were in high school and we had penpals for months from the city next-door and then we did a school trip to meet them? Well, that might be the case with people registered on this website, except that you can choose somebody who lives really far away from you.
Speaky is a website and an app. So you can choose what is best for you. This platform really is for written expression and communication. No oral communication is possible through this website. If you are looking for quick and easy communication with random penpals, that might be the right place 🙂
And many more!
Do you already have a penpal from France? Or have ever had one? Let me know what it brought to you, what was good and what wasn’t! Looking forward to hearing all about your penpal experience!