Inspiring a Love of Languages
(Volume 22, Number 1) By Angene Wilson
Below is not the usual lesson plan but some ideas for encouraging conversations about languages, why and how we learn them, and the value of being able to use more than one. As someone who wishes she could be more than a monolingual speaker with a bit of college of French, and an ability to greet people in Chichewa, Fijian, Gola, and Mende, I admire both the kids learning Japanese in a central Kentucky rural county high school and the immigrant kids learning English in our city schools on top of first languages of many different countries. How can we get all young people excited about being multilingual?
Ask students in an English class to read “Kitchen Confidential: His host mother was bound and determined to learn English” in spring 2009 WorldView Magazine. Discuss why Joshua’s host mother wants to learn English. Why do people in other countries want to learn English? Joshua had to learn the language of Azerbaijan before he began teaching English there as a Peace Corps Volunteer – why was that important? What are the advantages of being multilingual? (Be sure to find Azerbaijan on a world map.)
Ask students in a Spanish class to read “Love in a Foreign Language” in spring 2009 WorldView Magazine. Discuss how Evelyn learned Spanish. How did her learning Spanish contribute to her love story? What are other examples of how motivation and emotion make a difference in language learning? Ask students in the class or school for whom Spanish is their first language to answer that question. (Be sure to find Peru on a world map.)
In an English class, organize a panel of students for whom English is not a first language to talk about what they find strange, hard, and interesting about learning English. Ask the students to introduce themselves in their first language.
In an English class, organize a panel of students, parents, and community members to talk in other than American English – perhaps British English, Indian English, Nigerian English, for example.
In a French class, choose several poems from A Rain of Words, A Bilingual Anthology of Women’s Poetry in Francophone Africa, edited by Irene Assiba d’Almeida, University of Virginia Press, 2009. Read in both English and French. See example.
From A Rain of Words, A Bilingual Anthology of Women’s Poetry in Francophone Africa
la lune a beau tendre l’oreille the moon tries hard
la lune a beau tender l’oreille — the moon tries hard
elle n-entend point – she cannot hear
la brise dire ses secrets aux feuilles — the secrets the breeze tells the leaves
Many schools with multicultural populations hang flags of represented nations in their entrance halls. Represent various world languages in welcome signs, morning announcements, music, library and exhibit case displays.
Peace in Thirteen Languages
Chosen from Peace in 100 Languages, by M. Kabattchencko, V. Kochurov, L. Kohanova, E. Kononenko, D. Kuznetsov, A. Lapitsky, V. Monakov, L. Stoupin, and A. Zagorsky. Rolling Hills Estates, California: Jalmar Press, 1992.
Asomdwoe – Akan, Ghana
Salam – Arabic
Shalom — Hebrew
Shanti – Bengali, Bangladesh and India
Vrede – Dutch
Paix – French
Zaman lafiya – Hausa, Nigeria and Niger
Damai – Indonesian
Rongo – Maori, New Zealand
Qasikay – Quechua, Peru and Ecuador and Boliva
Mir – Russian
Hau – Tahitian
Ukuthula – Zulu, South Africa