Hello! Bonjour! Hola! Guten tag!

Languages. We all have one but should we just stop at that?

I believe that as teachers, we would be depriving our pupils if we did not incorporate other languages of the world into our classroom. It is ever more apparent that these days huge numbers of people do not just live in the country of their birth for their entire life. So are we really equipping the children with the basic fundamentals for life if we do not grant foreign languages with a high level of importance within the classroom?

I was fortunate enough to spend time and live with Spanish students for three weeks in Edinburgh whilst they visited Scotland. I was there to teach and improve their English. In the morning they went to language school and then spent the afternoons and evenings with us- sight seeing, playing games in the park and going shopping. Whilst all the time speaking in English.  Many a time we faced difficulties where nor one or the other could understand what the other was trying to say. Which as you could imagine could be extremely frustrating! However we always got there in the end!

The thing that made this extremely difficult was the fact that I cannot speak Spanish. I could sing you the odd Spanish song from past experiences of strutting my stuff on the dance floor to them, but no where near what was needed to have a conversation! If I had been able to speak their language fluently it would have been all to easy for us to just start communicating in Spanish when they got tired of English, completely defeating the main purpose of their visit!

Speaking a second language for a long period of time can be exhausting and witnessing that first hand of the students I was with made me truly respect and appreciate what they were doing.  Many of these young people spoke more than just the two languages. When I asked why,  they explained that by having a knowledge of other languages it opens up job opportunities all round the world for them. It would enable them to travel the world to see and experience all the different cultures we have. They believe that it’s only fair that if you travel to somewhere new, you as the guest, should make the effort to know at least some of the native language.

I love to travel. Especially as I lived in Germany when I was younger I love exploring new places!  Personally, I believe it’s really important for children to have a passion and desire to want to know about the world they live in and the people living in it. Many families cannot afford to take their children abroad so as a teacher it would be my wish to bring those countries into the classroom. We don’t necessarily need an aeroplane or boat to raise awareness of the outside world to children. We just need creativeness, imagination and passion. I want to ensure that any future pupil of mine leaves my classroom having a good idea of what living in another culture would be like and for them to have the desire to maybe visit that country in the future. I want them to know phrases of languages which could then be built on as they get older and used all around the world!

This country is a great place to live but when there is so much more greatness to see, let’s not shy our children away from that. Encourage exploring. It’s a bit like trial and error- you have to try things to see if you like them. You have to try new things to learn and as teachers we are there to facilitate that learning.

Get your backpacks on, we’re going on a round the world trip..classroom style!

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After a lovely day at Portobello beach in Edinburgh with my lovely Spanish and English speaking friends!

 

 

10 thoughts on “Hello! Bonjour! Hola! Guten tag!

  1. Heather Murray

    I agree with the points raised in this discussion as I feel that the benefits of learning a second language are not highlighted as much as they should be. I thought that it was a valid point that knowing more than one language opens up more job opportunities. #uwsba13three

    Reply
  2. Sheridan Mair

    Thank you for posting. I admire your enthusiasm for teaching modern foreign languages. I appreciate how difficult it must have been when you had to communicate with the Spanish students as when I started University, I stayed with a French family for one week and I also found it challenging.

    #uwsba13one

    Reply
  3. Lauren Duncan

    I definitely agree with everything you’ve said, Emily! A second language opens up so, so many job opportunities.
    I love your idea of bringing other countries into your own classroom. Children would love this, especially if they have not had the opportunity to travel!
    I’ve loved reading about your experience with the Spanish students! I love travelling, but the band I dance with are Dutch and there is nothing more frustrating than when they suddenly start speaking in their first language to each other in front of you. You just want to be a part of the conversation!
    There are just soo many languages out there to choose from to learn!
    Great post 🙂

    Reply
    1. Emily Christison Post author

      Thank you for your feedback Lauren! I know exactly what you mean about wanting to be part of the conversation- I always worry I’ll miss the joke! Glad to here you also have enthusiasm for travel!
      Keep dancing! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lynne Jones

    An interesting post Emily.
    If there is anything that the Primary Team here at SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages can help you with anything at all now or later in your career, please get in touch. We support pre-service and in-service teachers in developing their pedagogy in early language learning.
    Good luck with your studies.
    Kind regards, Lynne

    Reply
    1. Emily Christison Post author

      Hi Lynne,
      Thank you very much, will definitely know where to come for help! I really appreciate your comment!

      Reply
  5. Sarah Crosbie

    I love your passion for language in both the classroom context and in the wider world! I completely agree with you that as a travelling guest to a country, it is positive to dedicate effort to using the native language. Also, I can appreciate how difficult being completely immersed in a foreign language can be as I have spent time with a French family, yet the benefits are so valuable. Like you, I can’t wait to bring different cultures in to the classroom!

    Kind regards
    Sarah

    #uwsba13one

    Reply
  6. Emily Christison Post author

    Hi Sarah! So lovely to hear we share the same views! Spending time with the French family must have been a great experience for you and if we, as teachers, can bring even a tiny bit of that experience into the classroom for our pupils it will be so beneficial!
    Thanks again for your feedback- I really appreciate it!

    Reply

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