Meeting with Eva Kristina Salameh
Salameh is a speech therapist, medicinal doctor, one of Sweden’s most important researchers in multilingualism and the owner of www.språkenshus.se. She agreed to take part in our project.
She suggested that we contact Skolförvaltningen and Förskolförvaltningen to check if our work will be relevant for lärohandboken (teachers’ manual), to have our project validated, ask for pedagogue recommendations and to ask advice on distribution once we are ready to publish our work.
She also recommended we contact Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten (www.spsn.se). They can help us with distribution of material and validation.
Suggested publishers for Maxamixen are Nypon, Studentlitteratur, Natur och Kultur, Hallgren och Fallgren
Contacting schools and Grundskoleförvaltningen
Today we started calling a list of 9 schools we have selected from 7 regions. The selections prioritised schools with high numbers of multilingual students. We were able to get in touch with 5 of them. 3 of them declined, 2 of them are interested, but will get back to us.
We consulted with Malmö Grundskoleforvaltning, requesting suggestions for drama/theatre pedagogues to take part in Maxamixen and validation of our project. They are not able to suggest any person in particular, but recommended us to contact vikarbanken, schools, put an ad on facebook or consider modersmålslärare. They will put our ad on a billboard. I sent them our project, and the person I talked with consult with her colleagues and get back to me for any other ideas.
We met with two classes at Vidadalsskolan to test exercises.
Exercise 1: Pupils stand in a circle. The first person choses a foreign word and interprets the sound (not the meaning) of this word with body movement. The person then counts to three and all members in the circle repeats the word and movement.
Observations: Several children were shy and unwilling to come up with a word/movement to begin with. However, after skipping these children and giving them extra time to think they were able to participate after all.
Exercise 2: Two pupils agree on a topic and stand in front of the others. One of them is a foreign “expert” while the other is the interpreter. The expert talks in a foreign language or in gibberish while the other makes a personal interpretation of what this person is saying without actually understanding the content. After each session we asked the expert how many percent of the interpretation was correct.
Observations: We were surprised to see that the interpreters had a success rate of around 50 – 70% correct translations. The pupils suggested that body movement was important to get a better idea of what was explained by the expert. We made several experiments where both the expert and interpreter spoke different foreign languages. This, however, did not fall well with the audience as they preferred that the interpreter used a language they could understand. We also tried with an expert who speaks Norwegian or Danish, which we assumed would be too close to Swedish, thus making the interpretation too literate. This, however, was not the case since the interpreters didn’t understand much of the content and still needed to do a personal interpretation, which in fact is part of the exercise.
Exercise 1: Two pupils face each other while sitting. One takes the roles as a person expressing emotions through a foreign language, the other as an interpreter. The first pupil choses one emotion at a time, expressing it though a foreign language and body movement. The other pupil tries to figure out which emotion is expressed and gives an interpretation of it as well as any context or story expressed by the first pupil.
Observations: This exercise was not very popular amongst children. They felt too shy or uncomfortable when expressing emotions. However, they felt more comfortable in the interpreter role.
Exercise 2: Two pupils face each other while sitting. One pupil says a random word to the other who then says a word he or she associates it with in a foreign language. Then, visa-versa and repeat.
Observations: When asked, the pupils preferred to do this exercise in a chain rather than a couples format. They also suggested there should be a five second time limit to come up with a word or association.
Meeting with Eva Kristina Salameh
Today we went through a few exercises with Salameh, who gave us her thoughts. Together we made some adjustments to some of the exercises. We also discussed the layout and content of our documentation.
Important points of our meeting:
- Validate the project through teachers and pupils
- Debrief/critique system after each exercise
- Importance of warm up prior to exercises
- Each exercise should have a difficulty rating
- Simplicity is important for the child’s participation
- Order of exercises
Today we met with Sofielundsskolan 4A. For the first time we had realised the lab at our own venue.
Exercise 1 (Warm up): “Border guard”
The children sit on two lines of chairs facing each other. One child patrols the middle and takes the roll of a border guard. The sitting children make eye contact with one on the other side. Without any words they change chairs without the guard noticing them. The guard is always trying to find a chair to sit on. Whoever remains without a chair becomes the new border guard.
Observations: All participants took part actively and enjoyed the exercise. They seemed very energized when we moved to the next exercise.
Exercise 2 (Warm up): “Whiteboard”
Step 1: The instructor writes a word in Swedish on a whiteboard, and then asks the children if they know this word in other languages. Each language and translation is written on the board by the instructor.
Step 2: The instructor writes a word in Swedish on a whiteboard, and then asks the children if they know this word in other languages. Each language and translation is written on the board by the child who knows the answer.
Step 3: The instructor writes a word in Swedish on a whiteboard, and then asks the children if they know this word in other languages. Each language and translation is written on the board by the child who knows the answer. The child is asked to write the word as big as possible.
Observations: We were able to write words in 12 different languages. Some of the children found this exercise a bit boring. It did, however, open them much up for the next exercise, “Try again!”
Exercise 3: “Try again!”
The children stand in a circle. The first child says a foreign word while moving their body in a way they feel the word sounds phonetically without mimicking the actual meaning of the word. The child counts to three and all participants repeat the word and movement. If the child says isn’t satisfied with the results they shout “try again!”. Once satisfied, the turn goes to the next child.
Observations: All participants were able to come up with words and movements easily. This exercise is concidered ready.
Exercise 4: “Squat & think”
Step 1 (with leader): The participants are arranged in couples. Each takes turn as the leader of the other. The leader says a number in Swedish, the other squats, says the number in another language and says the following number in Swedish, then stands up. Their roles change after three numbers.
Step 2 (without leader): Participant #1 says a number in swedish, participant #2 squats, says the number in another language, stands up and says the next number in Swedish. Participant #1 squats, says the number in another language then stands up and says the next number in Swedish and so on.
Observations: Mixed reactions from the children. Some felt confused and thought it was a little boring. We will test another version with words instead of numbers next time.
Meeting with Eva Kristina Salameh
Salameh observed our workshop with 14 children from a preparation school.
- Importance of simplicity in the content of the exercises.
- The main priority of most of the exercises is to open the children up for multilingualism. They should therefore not require too much creativity from the participants as it shows to confuse them.
- Gibberish requires creativity. We tested “Blabla Language”, which simply requires you to repeat blabla while expressing yourself. It proved effective at relaxing the participant.
- [See exercise Interpreter] In the exercise “Interpreter” the children were shy to participate. However, by dividing them into smaller groups they opened up more. Two “interpreters” and two “experts” will also be tested.
Workshops at Klostergårdsskolan in Lund
We had workshops with two 4th and one 6th grade classes
The warm up exercises were “Border Control”, “Whiteboard” and “Hello”. This proved to be a successful approach as they transitioned well with each other. Border Control warmed the children up physically while Whiteboard made them start thinking of new languages. The last word we had on the Whiteboard was hello, which served the transition to the final warm-up exercise called “Hello”. With the 6th graders we had written hello in 24 different languages. In “Hello”, the children are asked to walk around randomly in the room and say hello to each other in all the languages on the whiteboard.
We tested a new exercise called Blinda och blanda: One participant choses three items from a pool of random objects, put them on the floor and say the name of them in Swedish. The child closes its eyes while another change the places of them within reasonable reach. The first child then searches for the objects without looking. When an object is located, the word is repeated in another language or, if the child wants to, in Swedish.
Observations: The children had great fun with this one. About half of the “searchers” used non-Swedish words for their objects, while the other half just repeated them in Swedish. All of them, however, were enjoying themselves equally.