ideas to try at home
Parents, uncles, aunties, guardians, neighbours, how often do you share stories from your cultures with the next generation around you? Why not pass on the tales you treasured growing up so that they can be enjoyed by a whole new generation.
Orally, or using a story book, tell your favourite story in your native language to a young relative, friend or neighbour. A short story of no more than 10 pages or that takes no more than 3-4 minutes to tell will work best. If the child you are telling it to doesn’t understand your native language you can:
- introduce the language first, explaining which countries around the world it is spoken in.
- use pictures, actions or sound effects as you tell/read the story to give some helpful clues as to what the story is about.
- after you have told the story in its original language, ask your listener if they have any idea of its themes or characters from the clues you have given. Then fill in the gaps with a short summary in English.
Find out what your listener thought of the story. Was it similar to a story they have heard before? Do they remember the names of any of the characters? Which characters were their favourites? Did they like the story’s ending? Do they think that their friends would like the story? If they were going to tell the story to a friend are there any details they would change to make it more entertaining?
Could your story be translated and reinterpreted? There are lots of fun activities for your young family members/neighbours that your story could lead to. How about encouraging one or more of the below suggestions:
- drawing or painting a picture of some of the characters in the story. They could be given new English names. A description of the character could be written underneath the picture using creative language. For example, ‘Sophie the slithery, slimy snake’, ‘Pineapple-Saurus the spikey, green bellied monster’.
- making a recording of the story in English using a smartphone, camcorder or other recording equipment. Does the story need a narrator and different family members to act the different parts? If you’re using a camcorder does the story need props to bring it to life?
- crafting the story into a story book with 10 pages. Big sheets of paper could be used with 3 sentences written in felt-tip on each one. Pictures could be drawn or cut out of magazines. Or if you have a computer maybe each page could be in a different font with pictures sourced from clip-art.
Family/group presentation and discussion. Might there be a family gathering, or an event with friends gathered together, when the story in its original form and the reinterpreted version in English could be presented for everybody to enjoy? Which version does everybody like best? Do people of different ages have different opinions? What is each family/group member’s favourite childhood story? Which language did they first hear it in?
The distinctive sounds, rhythms and nuances of a shared language bond together communities around the world and continue to evolve from generation to generation. Parents, uncles, aunties, guardians, neighbours, how often do you speak your native language with the younger generation around you? Can they understand it or write it in its original script or in Roman letters? Learning new language skills is always exciting and is so much easier when we’re younger!
Songs, rhymes and celebrations. Try teaching everyone a very simple song or rhyme. Can anyone guess what the song or rhyme means? Are there songs for special occasions that you could share, for example the equivalent of ‘Happy Birthday’? Are there any other cultural birthday traditions you could introduce when it is somebody in the family’s birthday?
Words and scripts. If your children or younger family members aren’t able to write your native language, there are lots of interesting forms you can introduce written words to them in. Here are two examples:
- matching pairs. Write out 8 nouns in English (eg shoes, grapes, house, dog) in large letters each on a playing card size piece of card. Write out the translation of each of these words (in the script of your native language) in large symbols/letters on another set of card pieces. Can your young family members try and match up the two sets of cards to make pairs of translations?
- decorative symbols. Write out the names of your family members in the script of your native language. Can each family member make a copy and enlarge the symbols to create a poster for their bedroom wall?
Humour. Try making your family members laugh through improvisation in your native language. Why do they find your performance funny? Can they continue the improvisation in English?