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For The Love Of Language! Celebrating International Mother Language Day at HundrED

21.2.2020 | BY KATIJA ALADIN & HEIDI GÄRKMAN

Language learning is more than a subject in school – language is deeply rooted into our identity and impacts our everyday. Reflecting over the languages we know and identify with is an important exercise to understand how both we ourselves and others experience the world! 


Where do you hold your languages? 

As we have been researching the role of language with the HundrED Spotlight on Bilingual Education in partnership with the Swedish Cultural Foundation, we have been curious about our own language identity and how we "hold our languages".  Naturally, we took out our markers, a piece of paper and let our creativity take over. 

Here's what happened: 

 Katija Aladin, Researcher

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This was such an exciting task! I really had to reflect on the languages that I hold as part of my identity. I would say that English is my maternal language. I have drawn it close to my heart because I use English to communicate with my loved ones. My parents enrolled me in French immersion when I was in grade 1, so I have drawn french as a head language because I have gone through most of my education in French. I have also drawn a Finnish flag as a head language because I am surrounded by Finnish and am trying to pick it up here and there. I have French flags on my hands because knowing French has given me opportunities to travel and work abroad in France. Working in France highlighted my love of travel and discovering new cultures. I also found that my time in France solidified my French speaking because it became more than just a language. For my feet, I have maple leafs and a flag of India! I have maple leafs because I am a very proud bilingual Canadian and Canada represents my roots. I have a small flag of India as well because my dad speaks to my grandmas in Gujarati so that flag represents my Gujarati roots. 


Heidi Gärkman, Project Researcher


What a fun way to celebrate International Mother Language Day! My mother tongue is Swedish, the second official language of Finland, equal in status but not in numbers to Finnish. As a Swedish-speaking Finn, I often get the question: do you identify as a Swede or as a Finn? The answer is neither and both. I identify as a Swedish-speaking Finn - a bilingual cocktail unique to Finland. Finland-Swedish is the first language of my mind, but both Finland-Swedish and Finnish are the languages of my heart - hence the heart-shape of the Finland-Swedish flag on my head, and the placement of the Finnish national flag straight over my heart. The flags of Sweden and the and the other Nordic countries on the “outskirts” of my body represent the close linguistic and cultural connection my mother tongue has to the Nordic region. English holds a major spot on my linguistic body: it is the main language of my current studies, work, entertainment, and connection with the rest of the world. And finally, French. I speak and understand un petit peu French – a language that I find fun to kick around with! 


Exploring the HundrED Spotlight on Bilingual Education

In honour of International Mother Language Day, we want to share some key questions theHundrED Spotlight on Bilingual Education will explore! Together with experts in the field, our bilingual research team has discussed various ideas, challenges and drivers of bilingual education. Some of the more important take-aways from these discussions were the following ideas:

Bilingual education is not only about language learning or reaching a certain level of language proficiency, it is about learning how to think and act in both languages, and to navigate between them. The common and most empowering factor of bilingual education is indeed identity – how the languages you know and/or learn shape you as a person. Bilingualism plays its most important role not inside, but outside of the classroom, and involves the whole school community!

With our Spotlight, we are in the process of highlighting innovative attempts and approaches in bilingual education that excite, inspire, enable, create & support bilingual teaching, bilingual learning, biliteracy, language awareness and confidence, mother tongue education, bilingualism, multilingualism, cultural exchange, inclusion and diversity!

Celebrating linguistic and cultural diversity is what International Mother Language Day is all about! We set out on a mission to find out which languages are closest to the hearts of our HundrED Team. You can find more quotes from the HundrED Team on our social media channels. We encourage you to do the same! 

The submission period for the HundrED Bilingual Spotlight in partnership with the Swedish Cultural Foundation is coming to a close. Our expert Academy of educators, leaders, principals, researchers, teachers & students are set to review the shortlisted innovation on February 24th until March 9th. 


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ABOUT AUTHOR

Heidi Gärkman
HundrED Project worker & Researcher

Katija Aladin
Education Specialist & Researcher