The Izandi-Fees was filled to the brim with the beautiful sounds of our two second languages at Imhoff Waldorf School: isiXhosa and Afrikaans. It was delightful to hear and see our children add their own flair to some of the songs and verses that I have known since childhood.
Whilst I listenened last Wednesday evening, I was thrilled to hear the children’s beautiful pronunciation of both the languages. Children have wonderfully flexible tongues and such strong imitative skills, and this is also true of our children at Imhoff Waldorf School. Titshalakazi Sijila and I marvelled as we listened to the audio clips on Friday afternoon and agreed again on how Imhoff’s children have made bits of these additional languages their own.
What further stayed with me over the last few days, is the easeful suppleness with which our children moved from one language to the other. The older children were excited to quickly get their Xhosa outfit off and to find the Afrikaans prop that they were needing for their next verse or song. I truly hope that this will stay completely normal for all our children – this lovely flexibility when dealing with cultural diversity.
It is amusing that I thought, initially, that teaching Afrikaans would be a diversion from teaching children tolerance and social emotional skills – concepts that I was so very passionate about. I now know there is no better way to expand a child’s worldview than teaching them to appreciate, speak and sing in another language. The children learn the sounds, words, idioms, literature, history and traditions of other peoples when they learn another language. It is indeed “the crown jewels of foreign language teaching: flexibility of thinking and deeply ingrained tolerance.” (https://www.waldorfpublications.org/blogs/book-news/37362625-foreign-languages-in-a-waldorf-school)
by Ester Ruttmann
“To learn from age four or five that different people think in different ways is a very helpful observation to make. To hear foreign languages encourages children to be subliminally aware that languages from different lands can express things in different ways from the ways of our native tongue. Some people put their verbs at the ends of sentences, some in the middle and some in the beginning. This pushes the child’s just-awakening thinking to be more playful in expressing thoughts. It instructs in the profound truth that there is no single correct way to form and to express a thought. The variety is limitless. From early childhood, then, flexibility in approach to formulating thoughts is the seed bed into which ideas are placed. The blossoms from such a prepared garden bed are rich and multifarious indeed!
That people do form thoughts, ideas, and languages differently starts a child’s heart from early imprinting to feel delight in discovering differences instead of impatience that we do not all speak alike. Respect for the differing ways people think things, say things, do things promotes tolerance, respect and delight in the wondrous variety in humanity.” (https://www.waldorfpublications.org/blogs/book-news/37362625-foreign-languages-in-a-waldorf-school)