Being able to communicate in English outside the classroom is a wish I believe every English teacher has. Most often however, I guess dialogues and other communication is something that has been taken care of by the teacher and students in class.
Having collaboration with another school somewhere else in the world is nothing new, but with today´s digital technique something much easier to handle and manage.
For students having an e-pal, motivation for studying the language might increase. In the long run a project like this could help the student developing not only linguistically but also socially and may help providing an increased self-confidence as well.
The benefits from being able to communicate with children from other parts of the world are many. Students will have the opportunity to get an insight into another person´s life and culture. They will also have to look at their own daily life and describe their own culture, activities and so on in English. Pictures and short videos can be sent which gives more to the conversation. E-mailing gives the flexibility to have pals all over the world and there are no concerns about time differences.
It could be helpful to establish a contact with the other class´ teacher. It is important to agree upon the forms for the project. To get good quality students should not get confused about what is expected from them. It is all about being well prepared before starting up something like this. In the beginning it might be necessary to help students with subjects to write and ask about. Later, when they feel more confident, they will be able to work more and more independently.
There are different ways of finding schools and e-pals to cooperate with. At my school we found www.etwinning.net very useful.