Songs, Games and Multilingualism – Moomin Language School at Day Care Ågeli
Moomin Language School has helped in making diversity and differences between people part of the everyday life at the daycare, write Pia Staff and Mia Julin-Lumio.
Day care Ågeli began using Moomin Language School at the beginning of 2018. The daycare is a small, Swedish-speaking place in Oulunkylä, Helsinki, that cares for 32 children. During the spring, the children have taken part in weekly Moomin Language School playful lessons and used the learning application on an iPad almost daily. 21 children between the ages of three and five have been taking part in Moomin Language School. They have participated in the playful lessons in two groups, both of which have included 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.
Different ways to learn
Moomin Language School’s playful lessons have helped us realize just how diverse the children are in terms of learning. The children’s age varies in both groups, which of course affects the way and pace of their learning. However, we’ve also noticed differences between children of the same age when it comes to language acquisition. For example, there are differences in how long it takes to learn new words and concepts: some children learn fast, while some need more repetition and practice. Some children prefer learning in a calm environment while sitting down, whereas others require action and movement to learn. Some children want and need adult direction, whereas some want to have more control over their actions and learn best when they are made a part of the planning and execution of activities.
Well begun is half done
We have six iPads at Ågeli, which makes it easy to use the learning application that is a part of Moomin Language School. The children use the learning application for approximately five minutes each day. We have a printed-out Excel sheet which we use to keep track of who has used the application that day and which exercises they did. This way we can make sure that everyone uses the learning application. If someone is absent, they get to use the application first the next day so no one falls behind. We sing the previous weeks’ songs during each playful lesson so the children learn the songs well and their vocabulary grows. We have also given out the lyrics to parents so they know what the children are singing and can take part in their children’s language learning in their own way.
The head of the daycare and the group’s own kindergarten teacher are in charge of Moomin Language School at the daycare, and both of them have a good command of English. During the weekly planning session, they decide when to hold the playful lessons that week. Usually the lessons have been held on Wednesdays between nine and ten, half an hour per group. Before the playful lesson, the teacher goes through the lesson plan and gathers the materials needed during the lesson.
Multilingualism and diversity – the new normal
This past spring, the children’s multilingual backgrounds have been highlighted in a positive way with Moomin Language School. We have compared the new words in all the languages we know and discussed how some languages, such as Swedish and English, are similar to each other whereas the same word in for example Finnish or Russian sounds completely different. We believe that Moomin Language School has helped us in noticing the diversity that exists in the world and in making it easier to accept each other’s differing backgrounds and skills.