Global Pen Pals from Hangzhou, China, Visit Emerson World Culture Magnet School

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To kick off the two-week camp, a family picnic was held on Sunday, July 23, for all visiting and host families.




For nearly two years, Emerson students in the classrooms of Kate Mantenieks (grade 3) and Shannon Goebeler (grade 1) have been communicating live, online, with pen pals from the Engtopia ESL Research School in Hangzhou, China.  The children connect at least twice a month, asking questions, sharing their writing, acting out a play for each other, and even reading the same books to participate in literature discussions.  “This collaboration is a win-win situation,” says Emerson Principal Christine Doolittle.  “Emerson students practice their speaking and listening skills, which are identified in our English Language Arts Standards, while the Chinese pupils practice English – all while learning about new friends who are 7,000 miles away!”  

A cadre of Emerson kids also participates in Mandarin Chinese instruction before school one day each week, taught by Engtopia teacher Pingping Mo.  Participating youngsters arrive one hour early to continue instruction that began during the summer of 2016.

This summer, 12 of the Chinese pen pals, ages 6-14, are in Westerville for two weeks to participate in the Global Pen Pal Camp.  Fourteen parents are accompanying these children, and the entire group is staying with Emerson host families.

During camp, students have learned an English and Chinese song, and participated in field trips all over Columbus, to places including the Slate Run Farm, COSI, and the Columbus Zoo.  The youngsters also got the opportunity to see and compare a typical grocery store and an Asian grocery store, and to sample some of the different types of food available.