Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about language learning and how daunting and complex a process it is. As the supervisor of an English language program, I’m with English language learners every day. So much so, that I’ve finally decided to learn a second language again. I studied French as a child when I attended public school in Toronto, Canada, but with little to no need to speak French outside of French class, I’m by no stretch of the imagination fluent.
My current French tutor is patient and encouraging, but I’m still a bag of nerves and totally inhibited when I attempt to speak the language. I worry that I might make a mistake, sound silly, and that people will judge me.
Truly the best time to learn a second language is in early childhood. Children are non-judgmental and generally uninhibited. Language is a gateway to culture. I recently came across a children’s book of nursery rhymes that celebrates multilingualism and multiculturalism.
My Village: Rhymes from Around the World Collected by Danielle Wright, Illustrated by Mique Moriuchi, is a treasure trove of nursery rhymes from around the world. Poems are told in English and the native language of each of the 22 countries is represented in this book. Moriuchi’s illustrations are the perfect complement to the nursery rhymes. The textured paint and collage images are whimsical and thoughtfully executed to represent the culture from which each poem was born.
Readers are gifted the opportunity to see and read poems in native languages. This rich collection allows multilingual families to see their mother tongue cherished. Additionally, it serves as the perfect starting point for parents and educators to discuss and teach cultural diversity, poetry and art. This book reinforces the fact that children and families from around the world are beautifully unique yet share so much in common. Readers will delight in uncovering the common themes in the poems and seeing that children from around the world, play, love, imagine, and simply want to make friends.
Carol Higgins-Lawrence wrote her first story at the age of five. Her father paid her a quarter for it and she's been writing ever since. She's taken a variety of courses in writing for children. Multicultural perspectives are of particular interest to her. Carol is of Jamaican descent and was born and raised in Canada. She has a BA in Communications and Sociology and she has completed coursework towards a MA in TESOL. She has worked as a literacy educator for the past 15 years. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two young children. You can visit her website at carolhl.weebly.com
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