Did you know that there is a special day earmarked for worldwide celebration and promotion of diverse languages and multiculturalism? International Mother Language Day was created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and is held annually on February 21st. Made official in 2008 by the United Nations General Assembly, the chosen date marks an event in 1952 when students were shot and killed in present-day Bangladesh while demonstrating for the recognition of their national language, Bangla. Currently gathering momentum around the world, IMLD is the subject of many world-wide activities as well as a variety of great features from Multicultural Kid Bloggers whose posts can be found here at the special Facebook Page below.
Using Music To Encourage Language
Along with being a great way to celebrate world cultures, IMLD is an excellent opportunity to focus on world languages and to use music and the arts as a way to encourage diversity and multiculturalism, especially with young children. Although learning a new language can seem difficult at first, using music and games is a great way to connect with new sounds, words and phrases. In the process of singing or simple music activities or games, kids (or people of any age) begin to make sense of phrases and words and can build their competency and enjoyment of speaking another language.
Would you like to learn a bit of Quechua – the language used by the Incan Empire of South America? Here’s a little song or rhyme popular in Peru:
What Does The Song Say?
Essentially this is an “I’m gonna tell on you” song. Here’s what the words you’re hearing mean.
“Yaw”, means “Hey!”
“Puka” is the color red and a pollera or polleracha (little pollera) is a traditional skirt.
So the first phrase is
“Hey, girl in the little red skirt”.
The next verse asks “What are you doing?”, in Quechua “Imata ruwanki?”
It also talks about a corn field – and the word “sara” means corn.
The song then says “I am going to tell your mom and your dad” and you can easily hear the words “Mamayki” (your mom) and Taitayki (your dad).
Although it takes more then one song or game to learn a new language, it’s a great start and a fun way to build bridges between cultures – especially in languages like Quechua that may be in danger of being left behind or lost.
Want to learn more about the Quechua culture? Check out the E-book and companion CD below. And if you are a classroom or homeschooler with limited budgets, please contact us as we would be happy to get you a free copy for your use. To get a free copy, e-mail dariamusic at yahoo dot com and put “Free E-book” in the subject line.
Wishing everyone a happy International Mother Language Day!
Resources And Links
Wikipedia’s International Mother Language Day entry
Multicultural Kid Bloggers – IMLD Activities
A Child’s Life In The Andes from TPT
Cancioncitas De Los Andes – From Itunes