Last Monday May 17 2021, I noticed that cohort B enjoyed learning a new language. When we were outside at the tarmac in the shed, one child asked me how to say "orange'' and ''jaune" in English. I answered that the word ''orange'' is orange in English and ''jaune" is yellow in English. I explained that some words have the same spelling in English and in French, but they are pronounced differently. Another child asked again how to say ''bleu'' in French, and I replied "it's blue, the difference here is how you pronounce the word as well as the spelling".
From that conversation, I got an idea to plan a new activity in which children could observe and explore simple words that people use often when they speak and communicate. Those phrases are in English, French, Swahili and Kirundi.
That activity happened beside the play structure in the forest on May 21, 2021.
I set up the visual materials that the children could look at and be more connected to the word. The materials included 40 coated playing cards, two books about verbs and tenses, two translation dictionaries in French and English, a Positive Discipline book, a grade 4 book in Kirundi and the globe.
In the picture shown above shows a chart that has four columns with the following phrases: Good morning, how are you, I'm fine (good), good afternoon, have a good day, good evening, good night, what's your name?, my name is..., and enjoy your food. Each phrase is listed in English, French, Swahili and Kirundi. I also provided the children with 40 cards that had the each of the phrases listed above separated into each language to use during the game.
Before exploring those languages, I hid the cards in the forest. Then, I challenged the children to find and collect them, then bring them back to the tarp and try to read the phrase written on the card out loud. It was amazing to see how the children were engaged and participating in that conversation. They were able to pronounce some words that they learned in school for example,
"Bonjour" and " Bonsoir".
Thereafter, the children mixed the cards on the ground, and played the game by matching the phrase that had the same meaning in each of the four different languages. Throughout the game, the children referred back to the chart that had the 10 phrases listed under each of the four languages to help them match the phrase to the correct language.
As a group the children decided to each take five random cards from the pile, and the remaining cards were left on the ground where they could get more when needed. Each child had a turn to yell out the word that was on their card as they placed it on the ground. Once they yelled it out, another child could add the card to match the phrase with a different language if they had that card in their hand. At any time, children could get a new card from those left on the ground to match with cards during the game if no one had the matching card in already in their hands.
During that game, one child called out "Bon appetit" (enjoy your meal) four times. When I asked him why he kept saying that phrase, he said that he likes it and that he's hungry. He was happy to repeat that phrase over and over again.
While exploring the visual materials we used, children noticed some words started with two consonants that they don't usually see in English. For example, 'good morning' in Kirundi starts with "Mw" to spell Mwaramutse, or 'good afternoon' in Swahili starts with "Mch" to spell Mchana muema.
They also had an opportunity to look at some books and the globe tp get an idea on where these languages are spoken in the world.
During this activity, they developed their cognitive skills as well as their language skills. They learned new phrases and how to pronounce them correctly. The children asked the educators to help them pronounce them correctly if they were having trouble. They learned how they could communicate in four different languages. In addition to that, they developed their socio-affective skills because the played and worked together to get information from different books and the globe used as visual materials.
Due to the child that was so interested by the French phrase "Bon appetit", my next plan is to teach them a French song that they can sing when they have dinner before they eat, which I have provided below for you to listen and enjoy!