Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Speak Dating: A Super idea to promote languages in your school!

Have you ever heard of Speak Dating?
Prologue was part of the organizing committee of the European Day of Language Toronto event help this year on September 27 at the Spanish Centre. And we learned something very cool!

The committee came up with an original concept which seemed to us like the perfect activity to promote languages in particular and multiculturalism in general in a fun way to your students.

Here's how it goes
Speak Dating is a bit like the match-making concept of Speed Dating, where half the participants remain at their table while the rest moves on from one table to the next in increments of 5 minutes to meet as many people as possible in a short period of time. 

During the European Day of Language, they had five teachers waiting in a room, each of them teaching a different language. Then they would let participants in, five at a time. Each one sat in front of a teacher, NOT knowing what language he would be introduced to. They would be taught a few words in the foreign language for 3 minutes, then move on to the next teacher, therefore being exposed to five different languages in 15 minutes.

They would then be replaced by a new group of five participants, unaware of the languages that they would be exposed to. This activity was apparently a blast!

How it could be adapted for your school 
 
This is just a suggestion. By all means, share with us any way you could think of to improve on the idea!

1) Find out about all the languages spoken by the students in your school. If you can pin all the countries represented on a large map, it will be more easy to visualize how multicultural your school is.

2) Combine a Speak Dating activity with another multicultural event usually offered in your school. 

Some schools organize international potlucks where parents bring food from their native country (see this interesting blog Diversity through food and other activities for ideas). Or you could plan it on a day your school is hosting a French show! (See Prologue's roster of artists and companies offering French or bilingual shows by clicking "En francais" on the top menu on prologue.org and then Spectacles.)

3) Ask the students in your classroom who have the chance to know more than one language to become young teachers. Create of line of desks for the young teachers. Then, have students sit in front of each station and change station after 2 minutes. Once they're done, have a new group of students take their place. (Meanwhile, keep the rest of the class busy with a different activity.)

The young teacher will teach a few words in their first language, maybe with visual help, and a sentence which would be fun to know in another language such as "(name of your school) rocks!". TIPS: You could "trade" students with your fellow teachers to ensure that at least five languages are spoken in your classroom during this activity.

4) You could make a small passport for the students and provide the young teachers with stickers representing the country of origin of the language they're teaching. You could include in this passport a sentence translated in all the languages spoken by your students.

Bonne chance! Good luck! Buena suerte!

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