Second Soul – learning a second language at an early age
Our kindergarten takes part in the project „Second Soul – learning a second language at an early age” co-financed by the Erasmus + program of the European Union. It is a project of Strategic Partnerships for School Education.
Project participants are schools and kindergartens:
PLATON M.E.P.E. – Katerini, Greece
JOUDG “Breshia” – Debar, North Macedonia
Agrupamento de Escolas D. Filipa de Lencastre – Lisbon, Portugal
Baby Erasmus – Badajoz, Spain
Public Kindergarten in Strawczyn – Strawczyn, Poland
The main task of the project, apart from bilingual teaching in work with children, is the exchange of experiences and the creation of guides on bilingual teaching and the method of flipped lessons in bilingual education, which will be a collection of our experiences and knowledge. In this way, we want to encourage the use of these solutions in kindergartens and schools, and help other people interested in bilingualism take their first steps. We also want to advise parents on how they can support their children in learning a second language at home.
Language competences are at the heart of the ambitious vision to create a European Education Area. Being able to speak foreign languages is not only a competence needed for studying abroad and on increasingly international job markets. It also opens new perspectives and enables people to discover other cultures. Studies show that across the board, EU Member States are not making progress fast enough towards the EU-wide agreed goal that every European should be able to learn two foreign languages from an early age. In fact language proficiency levels among students at the end of compulsory education are generally low, and very large differences exist between Member States. With increasing intra- European mobility as well as unprecedented levels of school children arriving from third countries speaking different languages, we need to reconsider the challenges and opportunities we are faced with, in order to make multilingualism a true asset of the EU.
Bringing very young children into contact with foreign languages may result in faster language learning, improved mother tongue skills and better performance in other areas. That is why EU education ministers support the teaching of at least two foreign languages from a very early age.
Language learning is a natural aspect that can be enhanced by the activation of a life-long process starting at an early age. However the teaching of a second language in pre-primary schools has not been popular in Europe. Step by step is becoming more important but the most of the teachers are not trained, they do not have resources or ideas for working with the children in the second language and they do not have the language skills for teaching the second language. It is at this age (0-6 years and specially 0-3 years) when the children have all the capacities for learning a second language. So that is the reason why we want to encourage and train the preschools in Europe (no matter if they are in small villages or big cities) by giving them tools and resources that they can use with the children and with the parents.
Another important thing that the consortium has discovered is the fact that the children get better results when the families are involved in the teaching or when they support the second language acquisition of the children. That is why it is important to involve the families in the teaching of the second language, even if they do not speak that language. And this is one of the main objectives of the projects, promote the collaboration between teachers and parents for getting better results.
On May 27-28, 2021, the first meeting of the project partners took place. We met in Badajoz, Spain and were hosted by the „Baby Erasmus” kindergarten. Our kindergarten was represented by teachers: Dominika Wilk and Ewa Kukulska.
After the presentation of each project partner, we discussed the content of the guides and the organizational chart of activities for the following months. The task were divided and the deadlines were set.
We also had the opportunity to see the „Baby Erasmus” kindergarten and nursery, the director of which is Juan Ruiz Subiran, the project coordinator. After entering the building, children find themselves in a different world, a world where they communicate in English. We watched educational activities and talked to kindergartens that do not feel the language barrier, speak freely as if the second language was their mother tongue.
The next meeting will take place in the fall, we will be hosted by a school in Greece. However, in June next year, our partners will visit us in Strawczyn.
The second project meeting is behind us, this time it was held in Greece. Our teachers: Dominika Wilk and Angelika Liwocha participated in it.
On September 30-October 1, 2021, we were hosted by our partners from PLATON Schools in Katerini.
We visited a school located almost at the foot of Mount Olympus. PLATON Schools is a group of private schools: kindergarten, primary school, middle school and high school.
During the workshop part of the meeting, we discussed the content of our guides on bilingualism and thought about how to encourage parents of our preschoolers to cooperate.
There was also time to exchange experiences during joint lunches and dinners, as well as while visiting the town and staying in such beautiful places.
At the end of the meeting, the headmaster of the school, Anestis Papadopoulos, handed us the certificates.
It was a creative, hard-working, but also nice time.
The next, third project meeting was held in Strawczyn. On February 10 – 11, we hosted our partners in our kindergarten.
Mrs. Agnieszka Mulik, the director, together with Mr. Tadeusz Tkaczyk, the Mayor welcomed the guests with a traditional custom – with bread and salt, and representatives of each kindergarten group welcomed them in their own languages.
Mr. Tadeusz Tkaczyk, the head of the commune, told the guests about our commune in a few sentences, wished them fruitful work and a pleasant stay in Strawczyn and gave gifts related to the commune of Strawczyn. Then the preschoolers performed our traditional dance – Polonaise, as well as a dance pattern to the song „Uhlans came to the window”.
We visited the building of the kindergarten and nursery and invited partners for a short observation of the activities conducted in a bilingual manner. These were classes with an element of coding, recording the names of colors in the youngest kindergarten group „Mądre Sówki” (teacher: Ewa Kukulska) and gymnastic classes in the „Smurfs” group (teacher: Angelika Liwocha). Then we started working on guides on bilingual education and the flipped lesson method. Issues related to promoting the project in social media and project documentation were also discussed. We also decided on the next meeting to be held in Lisbon in early June.
We also took our guests to the Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia. We wanted to show them what the Polish countryside used to look like in the past, but also how such places can be used for learning in a bilingual manner.
The meeting ended with the presentation of certificates, calendars prepared by us, as well as English-language publications and gifts given to us by our National eTwinning Office.