If we start from the conviction that bilingual children establish knowledge mechanisms and structures, we must also accept that they learn faster and easier; the strategies used to learn languages seem to be found to also serve to improve problem-solving skills and awaken creativity.
The benefits, then, are considerable and remarkable throughout life. The development of multiple intelligences and the acquisition of resources and skills offers more professional opportunities in adulthood, opens the door to nurture us from other cultures, makes us more open minded, tolerant and allows us to appreciate the diversity.
Therefore, it is worth being aware of the educational opportunity offered by the child's predisposition in this childhood stage to easily learn different types of language and, therefore, take advantage of the most innovative methodologies to optimize the results and achieve the skills that derive from it academically and personally.
At Viaró Infantil we offer the first contact with English since they are babies with the intention that the ear and the brain become familiar with the phonetics and sonority of a first foreign language (what we call the musicality of a language) sharing a small space with native languages (Catalan / Spanish). Gradually, and recurrently, this contact intensifies over time, in the diversity of activities and in opportunities.
As part of the thematic weeks we offer at Viaró Infantil, there is one that is entirely dedicated to English: the English Week. Each year, this week focuses on a specific topic, this year it has referred to space. During these days, our children can enjoy a variety of activities around this topic and live quality educational experiences in English while also maintaining an emphasis on first-rate pedagogical goals.
In order to be able to learn deeply around this topic, starting the week before the English Week, we offer students a wide vocabulary for them to work on (selected and adapted to their stage of maturation). The activities take place in a particularly playful environment (from play, song and story; three basic and fundamental resources for children) but maintaining a demanding academic rigor and a structure consistent with the lines of learning designed by Viaró Infantil. In this way, the sequencing of activities follows a logical order that allows children to easily understand the development of the different initiatives proposed to them; therefore, at the beginning of the week it is essential to have at least a basic knowledge base that serves as a foundation and starting point to start enjoying the proposed activities in a meaningful way.
Some of the activities that have been revitalized are the following:
- Games. Play is a very effective resource because it stimulates children’s participation and sets in motion different skills and promotes multiple intelligences and divergent thinking. So, for example, taking advantage of the planets that the boys and girls had previously designed and made with cardboard, we proposed to the older students to arrange the planets of the Solar System in order to arrange them from the nearest to the farthest from the Sun. at the same time we took the opportunity to illustrate them with some of their features. Activities of this type allow to work at the same time different pedagogical objectives (to know contents on a subject, to learn to be ordered, to work in team ...)
- Songs. Undoubtedly, another very effective resource for capturing children’s attention and motivating their participation through songs; music and movement stimulate different cognitive, sensory, sensory, and motor abilities. In this sense, during the thematic week we sang and danced various songs that, in one way or another, referred to the planets. So, for example, the older ones have prepared a small repertoire of songs that they then perform to the younger ones (activities of this type work on such important goals as starting to lose stage fright, sharing knowledge among peers, serving others, exercising the memory, modulate the voice ...).
In the same framework, but with a special person of the activity, we enjoyed the participation of the primary school teacher Mr. Gatenby who offered us a musical recital of songs with his banjo (in this case we work in order in an audition or show, active listening, a taste for beauty, recognition of the work of others ...)
Children's pedagogical literature and our own experience at Viaró Infantil show and demostrates that musical language is a very effective gateway for children to establish the first links with other languages (you can expand and deepen this note by accessing the link to a previous post in which we talk about the many benefits that music has in these early ages of childhood and where we explain why it is essential to provide children with basic resources with which to implement the basic connections of 'a solid and perennial learning).
- Experiments. The theme of the space allows spectacular manipulative activities, this time the two-year-old students lived the different phases of an experiment that consisted of launching a "rocket" (approach of the experiment, design of the artifact, apparatus construction, hypothesis setting, fieldwork, checking expectations).
- Crafts. The environment is essential to achieve a climate that allows the internalization of the idea being worked on and to contextualize the different activities planned (we also work on different objectives such as the taste for a pleasant environment and harmonized with the activity that is carries out, taste for the decoration of the physical spaces, cleaning of the surroundings after working in the adequacy of these ...) In this sense, we prepare some activities to work in team with the collaboration of the children in particular tasks adapted to their psychomotor skills to properly decorate the entire Kindergarten space and also involve them in this part of the educational project we have in hand.
- Vocabulary Champion. Vocabulary games are essential to provide children with a wide enough repertoire to begin to express themselves fluently; lexical richness in a language is what, in the long run, will give value and weight to the student’s expression in that language. From an early age, we began to work in this direction so that they would gradually accommodate a fund that would give them, in the near future, freedom to express themselves. (In this area of work we also work on the goal of learning to memorize, we offer models of pronunciation by imitation, we promote respect for classmates and their rhythms of learning and work and we work on tolerance to frustration).
- Theater. Listening to people speak a language is arguably a powerful tool for learning, but if we can also contextualize this conversation into a plot and illustrate it with pictures, the process is accelerated and more efficient. That is why films and plays are instruments that we take very seriously. With the help of IPA Productions, we were able to enjoy a theatrical performance of Ziggy’s spaceship in the school auditorium. (Attending a play also allows us to work on the goals of moving with a certain order and silence respecting those we meet on our way, the patterns of behavior when attending a show and recognition for the work of others. )
- English Corner. Oral expression is the Achilles heel of many adults; Aware of this reality, we strive to be able to pass on to your children mechanisms and practice opportunities that allow, from a very young age, to lose the feeling known as “stage fright”, gradually normalizing the exposure of one's own ideas, feelings. and emotions in front of others. Our sophomores have the weekly opportunity to leave the classroom, go deeper and find their big moment in their Speech. (This great effort is always rewarded by strengthening the individual self-esteem of each student, making them aware of their ability to express themselves in English and allows them to establish their own resources to communicate more confidently and fluently with those who they surround us).
- Cooperating Activities. The school is another node of the socio-educational environment and is interconnected with the rest of the educational agents. But it is the family that is the main agent in the education of children and they also participate actively and in person in English Week to the best of their ability. On this occasion, once again we were able to count with the collaboration of a group of mothers who have come to talk to us about the Solar System as well as some parents who have been encouraged to come and tell us some story tales.
Sara G. Ramis