Today Expat girl's school celebrated Mother Tongue Day.
Mother Tongue and Other Languages Day is an opportunity for each family to bring their language to the schools' curriculum. The school celebrates and recognizes the importance of each child’s Mother Tongue. They also realize that other languages may be significant to a child. Our children are proud of all the languages they speak.
Language is strongly connected to culture, and Expat girl's school promotes international-mindedness. Part of this involves children recognizing cultural diversity and appreciating the similarities and differences among humans.
To make this day truly authentic, the parents (mothers mostly) were asked for assistance by helping to involve the students in an activity that introduces them to the various languages. The goal was to allow all students to remember the value of their home language as well as giving all the students and adults the opportunity to learn more about their peers’ home languages. My daughter's class represent 15 different languages across 20 students.
Well, since English was already covered and Swiss German is a dialect and not a language I opted for Italian. Over un café last week the Italian mammas decided that they were going to teach the kids some Italian gestures. The undersigned (adopted Italian by marriage) was in charge of organization. Needless to say there was much improvisation going on today, nevertheless. But that is what Italians excel in: Improvisation!
Therefore, while all the other mums went into the class rooms by themselves armed with print-outs, poems and songs, the Italians were gathering in the courtyard to decide on some last minute operations. Not one, not two but four mums - remember Italians always move in groups, NEVER alone - turned up to teach the children over 50 Italian gestures in 15 minutes with some mandoline music playing in the background.
I admit the kids were extremly intuitive and guessed many of the significations. May I add the Italian mammas were extraordinarily expressive. We all had great fun and hopefully during their next trip to Italy the children will be able to make themselves understood without even uttering a word. All you need in Italy are hands and feet.... and a smile!
Map courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps