foto-30La scelta che l’insegnante della Scuola d’Infanzia Bilingue PICCOLI&grandi non fosse solo madrelingua ma monolingue inglese è stata fatta con qualche preoccupazione nei riguardi dei bambini e dell’insegnante stessa. Sarebbe stata una piccola babele, dove ciascuno avrebbe parlato la propria lingua, oppure il fatto di trovarsi nelle medesime condizioni d’incomprensione avrebbe attivato l’istinto a comunicare al di là della barriera linguistica?

La dedizione e la delicatezza con cui educatrice e bambini hanno affrontato il compito sono alla base del lavoro apparentemente semplice ma cognitivamente e affettivamente complesso in cui tutti sono stati impegnati e coinvolti, e di cui Sharee North ci offre un breve e chiaro resoconto. (S.F.)

By Sharee H. North The natural environment of the school encourages multiple opportunities throughout the day to facilitate immersion English.

I think it is best to describe a little about the tasks and activities that we carry out each day to explain the role of English in the classroom.

The day begins with welcoming children on their arrival in the classroom. We start by teaching children greetings and farewells in the natural environment, ‘good morning’ ‘how are you,’ ‘wave from the window’ ‘bye bye.’

At the beginning of the school year it is very important to establish routines bearing in mind not to misuse the child predisposition to repeat. During this transition phase of the child it is imperative to use hand gestures, mimes to help the children fully understand what is being asked of them. When I explain to them it is time to ‘roll up your sleeves,’ ‘wash your hands, ‘ I have to mime the actions that accompanies each task.  As the year progresses, such gestures will no longer be necessary.

During our snack and lunch times we are presented with an opportunity to discuss their likes and dislikes, ‘I like…’ to demonstrate manners, the children are encouraged to ask for ‘more water, pasta etc’ to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

There is also a large amount of classroom language that the children are exposed to on a daily basis:

Let’s sing a song!

What is it?

Who is it?

Tidy up

Sit down/Stand up

Role play is also an excellent way to encourage vocabulary.  Playing dress up gives us the chance to introduce a clothing word list.  It is essential that during these times I verbalize the items, shoes, dress, skirt etc.  The activity also teaches phrases, ‘put on’, ‘take off.

Throughout the day I suggest action songs to the children that we can all sing ,and mime actions together.  I read English books to the children, while reading we stop and talk about the story, the colours that they see, the animals, who is in the picture?  I encourage the children to join in with these tasks without feeling they are being forced. Stories focus the child’s attention on the new language while being at ease.

It is important to also elaborate on the interests of the children.  An example of a recent activity involves reading ‘The Gingerbread Man’. It is a good idea to include arts and craft to accompany the book to be able to put the book in context.  All the children in the class made their own gingerbread men utilising classroom materials, creating their own artwork. During these periods I will interact with them by asking questions about their craft, clarifying what they are doing, if they need any help etc.

One could say that the Gingerbread Man well represents the fugacious meaning of the foreign language every time a child meet a new word: You can’t catch me…. You can’t catch me… but, eventually, it will be caught and digested!