European Day of Languages.
Last Friday 26th September was European Day of Languages and, after very successful celebrations last year, Whitehouse Common decided to celebrate once more!
Not content with one day, we had a week of activities with each class doing at least one language based activity during the week, assemblies focussing on awareness of other languages and special attention being paid to intercultural understanding. We invited parents to volunteer their language skills – 9 parents / grandparents volunteered with others saying they would’ve done but it was not a good time.. So we had visits from relatives to tell various classes about Punjabi, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Basque. Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay for any of them – I’m particularly peeved about the Basque as I still only know one word – goodbye! However, the pupils were buzzing about it. And the lovely thing for me was that the children whose parents had come in are all usually quite timid and having their languages celebrated brought them out of their shells – one teacher siad that a particular child was ‘glowing’ – that, for me, is what it’s all about.
The week culminated on Friday with special assemblies at which each class presented what they had done during the week. We had Reception spelling out the school name in hieroglyphics, Year 1 singing in Spanish, one Year 2 class singing in German and the other counting to ten in Japanese and conducting an exacting Spanish quiz! Year 3 celebrated the languages spoken by the families of pupils in the class by greeting us in their languages, and the other class counted to 10 in Punjabi, Urdu, Gujerati, Chinese German and Spanish. Year 4 had used my del.icio.us bookmarks (at last someone has listened to me!!!) and found the wonderful Italian song written by Mark Pentleton which they sang with great gusto. The Year 5 classes had researched different languages and the countries that spoke them.
Year 6 rounded off our assemblies (we had two – A and B team) with lusty song! 6VH had researched Chinese characters and written their names in Chinese script with their classteacher, but felt that this was not enough so had begged me to teach them a song to go with it. So what did I teach them? what do you think!! La Vaca Lola! We made up actions that involved 70s disco dancing, Makaton and bum wiggling – and it was a hit (not easy to do in a Sevillanas dress I can tell you!) 6JF concluded the other assembly with an unusual choice of language, but one of which I have only myself to blame! When I sent links for EDL to staff, I suggested, tongue in cheek, that someone might like to learn to talk like a pirate. So they did! And sang like pirates too!
We had so much fun that there was almost no time to judge the international fancy dress contest! We had lots of footballers, some Greeks and Romans, countless mini flamenco dancers – christened the ‘MiniMes’ as they wee all dressed like me in miniature! – and a couple of bullfighters, some Italian icecream and pizza salemen, a Chinese dragon, Big Ben, an English rose, Japanese girls, Russian cossacks, a Scottish lassie complete with bagpipes, Carmen Miranda and a Dutch boy in clogs. (Did you know that there are little hole sin the side of clogs to allow the sweat to drain away?!) So hard to judge – I felt really mean, but everyone got a sticker and a round of applause.
I love EDL – so much that I went in on my day off. I see my job as PLL coordinator as being more than teaching Spanish, but as one of encouraging the school family to celebrate and share the languages they know, and to enable them to learn more. I always learn so much from the pupils on such days, and I’ve yet to find a child who has not experienced great delight at trying to teach me words in their language only to find that I can’t immediately or consistently get it right!