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Student Penfriend Pie

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THis is something I read in the Guardian Weekly, and thought I 'd try myself here in China.
AT the beginning of term, I gave a photocopied letter to all students saying I wanted to get to know them better, but there wasn't enough time to talk in class. I added some personal information, and invited them to write back to me. Loads of them did - which created a lot of extra work - as I replied personally to each one, answering their questtions about me, asking them about themselves.
After two months, I have 5 - 8 from each class ( of 30) still writing regularly, and another 10 from each class occasionally. I'm now starting to ask them really open questions - where will you be when you are 50/what is your greatest wish ect. I try and be as open and honest as I can in my replies, and also dont write about learning english - this is a personal thing, not a teaching thing ( as such)
I've found that their written english is far better these letters than in class - perhaps because it's real.
You do need to have time to set aside to answer though - I'm spending at least 2 hours a week onit - it's worth it though!

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