While language itself is a beautiful pursuit; thoroughly enjoyable & immensely practical, the doors that it opens is what really makes it magical.
Playing with languages can lead us to discover history, geography, travel . . . culture, art, architecture . . .
food, fashion & innovation! I think my favourite is innovation! Because while there is so much to discover in our amazing world, there is also an endless ability and desire to create – and therein lies the beauty of inspiring children! Encouraging them to be resourceful, inventive, imaginative – to take their ideas a step further and find practical applications and expressions and ADD to the world, rather than just discovering it.
The most rewarding feedback that I receive from parents is that I have inspired their children; I have heard it a lot & it has really become the catalyst for creating our Cocorico niche.
So, how can YOU create this ambiance?
I've broken it down into four essential aspects of creating an inspiring experience. They all tend to evolve around a mindset, which I've extended into practical examples to make the mindset actionable in a way that you can begin to incorporate into your own style right away.
Choose one that you will try this week, and build from there.
I have used French examples because that's what I work with, but you can take these ideas and use them in YOUR own language with your own cultural examples.
Firstly, create an inspiring ambience through your presentation. If you're playing a game about a certain place (Paris, Provence, Marseille), be passionate in your descriptions. Have a twinkle in your eye! Really build a sense of beauty or fascination around the subject; you'll find children will start reacting with comments like, "Well why don't we go there, then?" or "When I grow up I really want to go to the Eiffel Tower." I even had one boy once who told me, "When I grow up I want to be a French boy!"
2. Encourage Self-Belief Through Innovation
Find every opportunity to encourage the children's belief in themselves and the idea that they too, could design a tower (or a rocket, or a dress/bag/robot/jewellery . . .). Mention the fact that the Eiffel Tower (or a cool monument or invention from your country) was designed by M. Eiffel, and that maybe the kids could design something themselves and name it after THEIR own name, such as the "Sally Tower," or the "George Bridge." Ask them what they'd like to design; their responses will be really enthusiastic once you give them some ideas.
When we play, "Racing in Monaco," the children are introduced as the racing car drivers themselves (not that it's any of our dreams to have our kids become racing car drivers, but you get the point!)
Work with these ideas, and suddenly your language sessions double as inspiration!
3. Make Languages Cool
Make regular comments about how cool it is that there are so many different ways of saying things in different countries. When the children bring up words that they've learnt while on holidays in Fiji, for example, or languages that their grandparents speak, allow it to become a conversation.
Comment on how amazing it is to be able to speak different languages; ask them why they think people in different countries speak different words - their answers can be pretty cool! Say it in a way that sounds like you've just wondered this exact thing yourself (not like a teacher who knows the answer and is testing the kids).
Remember, it's an adventure of discovery that we want to be seen to be taking WITH the children. Take any opportunity to bring a sense of wonder, beauty and fascination to the idea of languages. They may ask you why you speak your language, or how you learnt it. They are really quite interested. Finish by saying that now they can speak French/Russian/Mandarin, too, because they know how to say "Bonjour" (hello) and "Bisou" (kiss). See the proud smiles on their faces as a result!
4. Lead . . . Don't Teach
Teaching congers up images of a teacher standing at the front of a class, talking AT the students, expecting them to learn.
Soooo far removed from a magical experience with languages.
We don't want to teach the kids our language; we want to lead them. We want to touch something inside of them and leave a mark, just like a good memory, but one that empowers them, wraps them up like a magic blanket and LEADS them to more.
Creating a leading mindset is so much more powerful. The kids don't even realise that they're learning. They're simply experiencing, which is endlessly more enjoyable.
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À bientôt (Until next time),