A while ago I did a series of lessons with all my EAL learners on the importance of home languages. During this lesson the students wrote a quote about their home language. What does it mean to you? How does it feel to speak or hear your home language? How does it feel if you can’t use it?
Home languages are part of who we are, our identity. They connect learners with their family, their home country, their culture. Not only that, they are an essential part of learning.
Over the years I have collected many quotes and they are often very useful for explaining the rationale for what we do in EAL. So, I would like to share a few and tell you the anecdotes that go with it. This is the first one:
This quote came from a Year 8 girl and I absolutely love it! The good thing was that she was Italian :-). The reason though I love this quote is that it shows that she is very confident speaking in English and feels really proud to be Italian. That’s what we are aiming for in EAL: confidence and a strong sense of identity. Amy Chua once said,: “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” Being a Belgian EAL teacher working in a British International school I have learned to be brave myself. It took a long time.
A couple of weeks ago at a parents’ evening I was talking to the mother of a Botswanian student. When I told her what a great, clear and articulate storytelling voice her daughter had she told me she didn’t agree. “Since my daughter has been coming to this school she sometimes starts mumbling with an English accent”. “I want my daughter to keep her African accent” as she went on to demonstrate it. The daughter was clearly of a different opinion. I told the mum about the quote above and what it meant to me. She roared with laughter and gesticulated towards her daughter indicating that from now on she should listen very carefully to her EAL Teacher.
How do you feel about your accent?
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