UNESCO’s free advocacy kit for promoting multilingual education

October 24, 2012

UNESCO multilingualism Sarah Elaine Eaton blogUNESCO has a number of initiatives on the go to promote multilingual, bilingual and mother-tongue education. They have come out with a new advocacy kit designed to help raise awareness about the importance of multilingual education. The toolkit is for:

  • education practitioners (teachers)
  • education specialists (learning leaders)
  • policy makers

The kit is a 109-page free, downloadable .pdf. It is very cool. Get yours here.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Learning to Talk Like Jesus: How TV shows in Sweden support the Aramaic revival in the Middle East

May 29, 2012

Sarah Elaine Eaton blog - Languages, Literacy and Leadership

Sweden is providing a new twist on learning an old language, for  young learners of Aramaic in the two villages in the Holy Land’s small Christian community, in Beit Jala, Palestine and Jish, Israel.

In the Beit Jala Mar Afram school, run by the Syrian Orthodox church, priests have taught over 320 students Aramaic over the past five years.

In Jish approximately 80 elementary school children are taking Aramaic as a voluntary option in school.

The elementary school children who take part in the Aramaic language learning program learn to speak, listen, write Aramaic script and read the language.

Dia Hadid of the Associated Press reports that:

“The dialect taught in Jish and Beit Jala is “Syriac,” which was spoken by their Christian forefathers and resembles the Galilean dialect that Jesus would have used, according to Steven Fassberg, an Aramaic expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.”

The language classes have been met with criticisms from some parents and community members, some of whom are worried that having students learn Aramaic may be an attempt to convert them to Christianity or may be a threat to their Arabic identity.

According to the Associated Press, some members of the Christian community in the region still chant their liturgy in Aramaic, but few people understand the prayers.

Enter Sweden. Swedish officials estimate that anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 Aramaic speakers reside in that country. The Aramaic community is strong there and includes an Aramaic soccer team, “Syrianska FC” in the Swedish top division from the town of Sodertalje.

Aramaic speakers in Sweden publish a newspaper called “Bahro Suryoyo”, as well as pamphlets and children’s books, including The Little Prince. But what really helps the students learn the language is Soryoyosat, a satellite television station maintained by the Swedish Aramaic community. For some members of these two villages in the holy land, watching Aramaic programming from Swedish TV station provided the first opportunity in decades for them to hear the language spoken outside church. The Associated Press reports that “Hearing it in a modern context inspired them to try revive the language among their communities.”

This is one case, where technology and television are benefitting language learners both in terms of making learning more accessible and in increasing their motivation. These kids are “kickin’ it old school”, using new technology. Aramaic may be saved, yet.

Related post:

Can TV can help you learn another language?

https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/can-t-help-you-learn-another-language/

References

Associated Press. (2012, May 28). Pair of villages in Holy Land teaching Aramaic in effort to revive language that Jesus spoke: New focus comes with help from modern technology. NYDailyNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/pair-villages-holy-land-teaching-aramaic-effort-revive-language-jesus-spoke-article-1.1085728

Hadid, D. (2012, May 28). Aramaic: Efforts To Revive Jesus’ Language In Christian Villages Beit Jala, Jish In Holy Land, Sweden. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/aramaic-holy-land-jesus_n_1550507.html

Hadid, D. (2012, May 29). Revival of Jesus’ language attempted in two Holy Land villages. Southeast Missourian. Retrieved from http://www.semissourian.com/story/1854012.html

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


“I am a language teacher”: A picture says a thousand words

February 16, 2012

I’ve seen a few of these photo collections flying around the Internet recently. This is one I did up… just for fun.

Sarah Elaine Eaton I am a language teacher speaker presenter humor funny

You have my permission to share it… Just leave the blog link at the bottom, please. 😉

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Webinar: Harry Potter in Translation: Make language learning magical

January 18, 2012

Harry Potter in Translation by Sarah Elaine EatonDid you know that the Harry Potter books have been translated into more than 70 languages? A project through the Language Research Centre brought together dozens of native speakers who recorded a portion of the first Harry Potter book. These recordings are available free of charge for language teachers and students everywhere.

In this professional development webinar for educators, presented by ISU Workforce Training, you get an introduction to the Harry Potter in translation project at the University of Calgary’s Language Research Centre. You also get ideas on how to use this free service in your own language classes.

This program includes 5 lesson plans for teachers to help them use Harry Potter as a teaching tool for second languages.

Make your language class magical by using Harry Potter in translation!

Webinar date: January 19, 2011

Webinar time: 4:00 p.m. MST

Register here.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Achieving peace one word, one language at a time

January 4, 2012

I recently posted about how the U.S. military offers bonus pay to soldiers with demonstrated foreign language skills. In the post I suggested that language program managers might cite military examples when lobbying for funding for language programs.

The idea of advocating for language program funding by citing examples of military language training might not sit well with some language program administrators and teachers. In my experience, some of my most beloved colleagues are also peace activists and slightly (if not adamantly) anti-military.

Achieving peace one word at a time

But what if part of the answer to the global issues we face today was increasing, rather than decreasing, the focus we as a society place on communicating and appreciating one another’s languages and cultures? I won’t be so naive to say that learning languages is a panacea to all that is wrong with the world. But I do believe that peace and understanding are built one person at a time. One person, communicating with one person, listening and trying to understand one person. This is how we challenge our assumptions, learn about one another and wrap our minds around different ways of life, sharing, raising our children, worshipping, of thinking… and of living and being.

To speak another’s language is to begin to see the world from his or her point of view. We may never be able to fully understand those whose ways of life and beliefs differ so drastically from ours. But perhaps we do not have to fully understand. Perhaps we need only to begin to understand, in order for things to change for the better. There is a saying in English about how to overcome a seemingly insurmountable problem:

How do you eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time.

This could be modified to:

How do you achieve world peace? Answer: One word at a time.

Imagine a peace corps dedicated to global understanding through language learning: Daily verb conjugation drills, vocabulary drills, grammar sequences, language simulations, engaging with the other in one-on-one conversations in real time, with dictionaries and language apps instead of weapons.

What on earth might happen?

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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