Tag: Mother Tongues

storytelling week

Mother Tongues Storytelling week

Storytelling is a great way to promote languages and this year Mother Tongues has been involved in a number of initiatives promoting the use of heritage languages through storytelling.
Our first multilingual storytelling session took place in the Gutter Bookshop on Culture Night in September 2018. Throughout the year we have been developing our Language Adventures initiative, with monthly family storytelling and craft sessions in Dolphin’s Barn Library. This year we have also been collaborating with Chester Beatty Library offering storytelling for families in different languages in the beautiful surroundings of this amazing museum.

This week we are celebrating all these initiatives with three special events, all free and suitable for all language abilities!

Lithuanian folk talesThe queen of serpents and other Lithuanian stories
22nd May at 10.30, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 2
Join Eglé and her bridegroom, Žilvinas – the Serpent Prince, and learn about their life together as the rulers of the sea snakes.

Find out more

Language adventures, Raising bilingual children, Mother Tongues, multilingualism, bilingualism, DublinLanguage Adventures in French
25th May at 10.30 Dolphin’s Barn Library, Dublin 12
«Il était une fois…» Here’s how many stories begin in French. Come along and meet author Juliette Saumande in Dolphin’s Barn Library for an hour of stories and songs in French. We’ll even make our own books at the end. Free and open to all.
Find out more

literature_festivalStories from around the world at International Literature Festival Dublin
26th May at 11 and at 12, St Patrick’s Park, Dublin 8
Come and learn new stories from around the world. Storytellers will be reading and telling stories in Arabic, Chinese, Albanian, Portuguese, Italian, French, and more! Suitable for all ages.
Find out more

We hope you can join us in this multilingual celebration!
If you would like to organise similar sessions in your local library, do get in touch!


Story boxes in our mother tongues: a hands on multilingual literacy experience

Take a traditional tale that has travelled the world, build characters and props, and here you have a “story box”!
Now it’s time for you to enjoy telling stories in many languages, share fun moments and engage with the whole school community!

As part of the Language Explorers initiative, we visited a Junior Infants class in Dublin to create the opportunity for children to experience various languages and to learn more about one another.
We chose the Three Little Pigs, a very familiar tale, and we invited parents to take part in the project.
Parents joined their children in building the props and telling the stories in their mother tongue.

The discussions among the children were fascinating:

– “Look! I made a pig unicorn!”
– How do you say “horn” in your language?
– Rożek (in polish)
– Oh! like courgette!
– yeah! but it’s not the same /R/ (referring to the pronunciation of the r sound). I now know 3 ways to do /R/: English, polish and french!

Parents had fun telling the story in their mother tongue and for many, it was the first time they spoke their language in front of their child’s class.
The children heard the same story told in English, Irish, Portuguese, Japanese and French. This was a great opportunity for all children to be exposed to new sounds and words and to understand the diversity that their friends and the families bring to the school as an enrichment to the whole school community.
Children were delighted to share their heritage with the rest of the class and they were very excited to see their parents speak a language in school that is only usually spoken at home. The comments, the observations, the laughter, the attempts to imitate sounds and words allowed everyone to experiment with linguistic diversity.
It was a fantastic experience and we hope to be able to bring this initiative to more schools, so get in touch if you would like to bring this project to your school!
For more information visit www.languagexplorers.eu or contact education@mothertongues.ie

meet the speakers

New half day course for parents of bilingual children in Malahide

Do you have a bilingual child and many questions? Do you want to find out how to best support the home language alongside English? Are you a parent of a child in an Irish speaking setting? Then this course is definitely for you!
Dr Francesca La Morgia, researcher in child language acquisition and Karina Pereira, speech and language therapist with expertise in bilingualism will lead a practical course for families in Malahide on 18th May. This unique half-day course equips parents with the knowledge and skills they need to support the successful development of two or more languages in their children. The class is ideal for expectant families and for parents of children under the age of 6. Through small group discussions and exercises with videos and worksheets, parents will learn about bilingualism/multilingualism, how to overcome difficulties and how to support the development of their child’s languages. The classes have a limited number of participants to allow time for discussion and questions.
Mother Tongues is a non for profit organisation. All proceeds from this course will go towards Mother Tongues’s activities in 2019/2020.

meet the speakers

About the speakers

Dr Francesca La Morgia is assistant professor in Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College Dublin. She has been involved in research on child language acquisition since 2008 and she has published in international journals. After many years working in research and in the community, in 2017 Dr La Morgia founded Mother Tongues to share her knowledge and experience. Since then she has delivered courses on bilingualism all over Ireland to more than 1000 families.

Karina Pereira, speech and language therapist, graduated in speech-language disorders by University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), where she carried out research in child language disorders. She is currently working in Dublin with Brazilian families and their children through activities and workshops to promote bilingualism in Ireland. She also runs a project called “Brazil Clowning Project” that aims to connect children and the elderly through clowning, in a joyful and empathetic way.

You can click HERE to book the Malahide course via Eventbrite 




Summer Mandarin Chinese Immersion Camp is now enrolling!

SummerCamp12th to 16th August 2019 from 10:00-15:00 at NWETSS on Putland Road, Bray.

Chinese curriculum will be ready as a leaving certificate subject for beginners/5th-year pupils in Sept 2020 and pupils can take Chinese as a leaving cert subject in June 2022.

Each year, Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese designs a brand new theme based Summer Mandarin Immersion Camp to entertain the students and the theme for 2019 is learning all about the 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan. We would be keeping the old tradition too as pupils love them – activities such as X factor, calligraphy, Chinese painting, Chinese culinary art, arts & crafts, outdoor games and sound mapping project.
Cost: €150 a week including fruits, snacks, water, lunch and all materials (10% sibling discount).

Register here

Heritage Languages in Post-Primary School

Cultivating the languages of the different communities living in Ireland is one of the goals of Languages Connect: Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education.  Post-Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) have put in place several supports for languages including Polish. Lithuanian and Russian. These supports are addressed to students in post-primary education both at Junior and Senior Cycle level.

Heritage Languages in Post-Primary School

A Junior Cycle Short Course for Lithuanian and Polish has been developed and schools who wish to incorporate this course in their programme of studies are supported by PPLI. These courses are already being taught in several schools.

Funding is also available to support students interested in sitting Lithuanian, Polish or Russian Leaving Certificate exams.  Where there is a critical mass lessons funded by PPLI can be delivered in schools. PPLI also run Saturday classes in Dublin, Galway, and Limerick for Russian. Interested students can register on the PPLI website.

The NCCA are currently preparing a new specification for Leaving Certificate for Lithuanian, Polish, and Portuguese.  This means that these languages will be offered as curricular languages for examination in 2022.  Russian is already a curricular language.
For more information and queries on any of this initiatives please contact kenia.puig@languagesinitiative.ie

Transition Year is an opportunity for students to sample the world of work.
At the PPLI we encourage students to reflect on the role of languages, including heritage languages, at work – no matter where the work experience takes place.
We have developed a TY work experience activity pack to suit any workplace and any language. Also, It includes activities for heritage language speakers to reflect on the importance of heritage languages in the workplace.
The National Skills Strategy 2025 lists foreign languages and cultural awareness among the cross-sectoral skills which improve an individual’s employability and enable occupational mobility.
The PPLI TY activity pack ‘Working with languages’ will be available from September 2019. Contact kirsi.hanifin@languagesinitiative.ie for more information.

Summer camps

Under Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education Languages Connect funding is also currently being provided for a pilot scheme for heritage language summer camps.  We are hoping to run summer camps for speakers of Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and  Romanian. The aim of these camps will be to offer post-primary students an opportunity to engage in different activities while maintaining and developing language skills in their home language.  If you would like to organise a camp or would like more information on this initiative, see  http://www.languagesinitiative.ie/news  for more information.

Home language materials in our public libraries

PPLI is collaborating with the library services to develop a home language toolkit which libraries can use to access materials in different languages. This toolkit will also promote the importance and value of having a diversity of materials in our libraries.

PPLI carried out a survey among communities with home languages other than English and Irish to ask what kind of materials families are interested in accessing in libraries. While books are still considered the most important thing to have in libraries, 60% of those surveyed were interested in films as well. Comics, magazines and audiobooks are also something families would like to access.

mother tongues stories

The time I questioned my own bilingual parenting skills

Before my first child was born I decided that I would speak Italian to him. I thought that speaking Italian to my baby would be the most natural thing to do, as I had always spoken Italian to every one of my family members.
I knew that being the only Italian speaker in our new home in England would mean that I needed to make an effort to expose my child to Italian, but I was prepared to do it. I got together with other Italian families and we met every weekend for years, I travelled as much as possible to Italy, I always chose to read books and watch cartoons in Italian. My son’s language development was fine, and I had no reason to worry. I could see he could understand everything we said both in English and in Italian, even though he mostly used English words at the beginning.

mother tongues storiesOne day when my son was 20 months old we went to our local parent and toddler group and the speaker that day was a speech and language therapist. She asked me a few questions about my son and commented on the fact that he seemed quiet and reserved, and did not seem to want to play with the other children.
I didn’t see anything strange in that, as I knew that whenever we visited the group he immediately reached out for his favourite toys and books. The speech and language therapist continued asking me questions about his language and finally asked me how many words he could say. I wasn’t too sure, but I estimated that he could say about 20 words, some of which were animal sounds (like calling the sheep “baa-baa”). I told her that these 20 words included a mix of Italian and English words, too. She was not too impressed and suggested to put his name down on the waiting list for speech and language therapy. This was based on my answer on the number of words he could say and on the fact that he was playing with a book quietly in a corner of a very busy room.

Lots of questions crossed my mind: should I trust a professional and put his name on the list, just for peace of mind? should I keep an eye on him and work more on his vocabulary?
I had written notes on my son’s early sounds and words in a small diary, and I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with his language development. However, that morning I did question my own judgement. I felt guilty thinking that I may have been too confident and not acknowledged that my child had a problem. I decided to ask more questions.
After a few minutes, I went to talk to the speech and language therapist and asked her why she thought my son should be put on the waiting list. She claimed that at 18 months all children can say at least 50 words and that if they speak two languages they should have at least 50 in each language, so she said that he was a typical case of language delay.
I had at least 10 friends whose 20-month-old children definitely used lots of words… but I also had at least 10 friends whose 20-month-old children said just “mama” and “dada”.
I also knew that it is important to observe a child’s development over time, and rather than placing a 20-month-old child on a waiting list for speech and language therapy, she should have advised me on how to take notes on his new words and how to expand his vocabulary.
When later I asked colleagues who work in the field they said that she should not have given a diagnosis without fully assessing my son, and she should not have assumed that he had language delay based on my report on number of words he could say.

After this short conversation with the speech and language therapist, I was a bit flustered. My son had just been given a “diagnosis” of language delay, and I didn’t take that lightly.
I went to talk to the manager of the toddler group and asked more questions. She told me that this specific speech and language therapist was newly qualified and she had already told many families with young bilingual children (and that was the majority of children at the centre) to stop speaking their mother tongue in order to “fix” their language delay.
She also told me that many parents had gone to her in tears, and felt that they had done something wrong to their child by speaking their mother tongue. The manager told me that she looked into the issue. I did attend the group again, and never saw that speech and language therapist again. I do wonder if the mothers who worried about their child’s development did follow the advice of giving up their mother tongue.
Even though I know how important it is to keep speaking my mother tongue to my child and I know what speech and language therapy involves, I did get very worried and I did question my parenting choices and my own ability to understand my child’s development.

So was she right? Was the language delay real? In our case luckily there was no issue in his language development, but we definitely kept a close eye on him until he was about 4. It was a process that seemed slow and not consistent at times, but I continued to speak Italian to him and now that he is 9 I can say that I don’t regret this decision at all.

What I would say to other families in the same situation is to ask questions, consult experts (public health nurses, speech and language therapists) but never accept the advice of someone who claims that to fix any problem or overcome any difficulty it is necessary for parents to stop speaking their mother tongue to their child.

Author: Francesca La Morgia

We are looking for more stories! Would you like to share yours? Send an email to info@mothertongues.ie and we will get in touch soon!

Mother Tpngues storytelling

Mother Tongues Storytelling projects

Over the last 12 months, we have been working with Chester Beatty Library and Dolphin’s Barn Library on two family storytelling projects. We have experimented both with bilingual storytelling, where every child can join in and try to engage with a dual language story and with single language storytelling, where facilitators and parents only read in the children’s heritage language.
This was a fantastic experience for children who hear their heritage language only spoken at home, as it showed children that libraries and other public places welcome their language and heritage, and storytelling in the heritage language can be a fun community activity.
Language adventures, Raising bilingual children, Mother Tongues, multilingualism, bilingualism, DublinOur multilingual storytelling project Language Adventures started at Dolphins Barn Library with a series of six mornings in which Italian speaking mothers and fathers read and told stories to their children.
The atmosphere was great, and the children enjoyed the unfamiliar experience of reading in Italian in a public space.
Each session also included arts and craft activities which allowed parents to get to chat with one another and make new friends.
Both Claudia from Mother Tongues and Beata, head librarian at Dolphin’s Barn library were extremely enthusiastic and pleased with the outcomes of the first few meetings, so we planned a multilingual storytelling series, including Polish, German, Chinese and Lithuanian. Each session was quite unique, and we allowed families to choose their style of facilitation.
For Polish storytelling, we gathered a fantastic group of Polish parents who read famous stories from their home country and created beautiful bear masks. The German storytelling turned out to be a toddler book reading and parents had the opportunity to meet other parents and to ask questions about bilingualism.

In February we were delighted to host Evan Furlong, director of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, who told children and parents how the 12 animals of Chinese Zodiac were chosen and ranked. This storytelling was bilingual, which meant that stories were told in both Chinese and English.
The following month we hosted the Lithuanian Saturday School. They read the story of the fox and the bear explaining why the fox is considered the smartest animal in the forest and the bear’s tail is so short. We were amazed at the children’s incredible reading skills in their heritage language and this special event was made even more special thanks to the visit of Virginija Umbrasiene of the Lithuanian Embassy. You could definitely see that the children were proud and happy to be able to speak Lithuanian.

Our next events at Dolphins Barn Library will be in Greek and French. The Greek storytelling is organised in collaboration with the Hellenic Community of Ireland School and it will take place on 27th April at 10.30. This event will allow everyone to get a glimpse into Greek language and culture, and it will be held in Greek and English. On 25th May you will meet author Juliette Saumande for an hour of stories and songs in French. We will even make our own books at the end.
In collaboration with the Chester Beatty Library, we organised more multilingual storytelling sessions in Chinese, Greek, Lithuanian and Japanese. These events are held bilingually – English and the corresponding language. The first two were well attended and much appreciated by the public.

Techniques to improve communication in the Home Language

Techniques to improve communication in the home language

Techniques to improve communication in the Home LanguageBuilding on the success of our courses on bilingualism for parents, we have developed a new practical class for parents who want to practice some of the tips and techniques to promote the active use of their languages. The first class will take place on 17th April at 7:30 in the Outhouse, 105 Capel Street, Dublin 1.
Parents will learn about strategies to encourage children to use home languages more regularly by using games, stories and other tools. We will show you games that promote adult-child interaction that suits toddlers, preschoolers and primary school children.
The course is aimed at parents of bilingual/plurilingual children, but it would also suit early childhood educators and teachers who have an interest in supporting parents in developing their children’s language skills in the home language.

Places on this course are limited. 
Book yours HERE
The course is FREE for Mother Tongues Members – To find out more visit https://mothertongues.ie/membership/
If you are a member and you want to book a place, please email Francesca at francesca@mothertongues.ie

Mother Tongues Festival 2019. Tallaght, 2nd and 3rd March 2019. Picture Enzo Francesco Testa Photography. www.enzofrancescotesta.com

Mother Tongues Festival: an arts festival with a difference

Imagine a place where people have fun speaking many different languages, a place where children and adults learn about culture, stories and languages through art-making, music and dance! This is what the Mother Tongues Festival was all about!

Over the last two weekends we hosted more than 50 events in over 20 languages, we met artists, professionals and performers from India, Ethiopia, Russia, Libya, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Egypt, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain, France just to name a few! They filled rooms and entire venues in Galway and in Tallaght with their talent, through workshops, talks, poetry, music, dances and science. Participants of the Festival had a chance to listen to multilingual poetry, try Bollywood dancing, draw Irish wild animals with a Polish illustrator, learn Chinese calligraphy, meet musicians from Congo and Nigeria and learn Japanese through origami making!

The aim of Mother Tongues Festival is to promote languages and cultures in Ireland through the arts. Most of the people we spoke to at the events told us that they were happy to learn something new through languages that are currently spoken in Ireland and many families said they loved the opportunity to cultivate and share their community languages outside of the home.

As we pack our Festival suitcase and go home to prepare our 2020 edition we are filled with the positive energy gained at the event.
There are so many people we need to thank! We are extremely grateful to RuaRed, the Civic Theatre and Galway2020 for believing in our project and making it happen in Dublin and Galway. Without the support of the Arts CouncilSouth Dublin County Council and the Small Town Big Ideas Initiative our festival could not have been so successful. We are honoured to have been granted funding to pursue our dream! The many sponsors that have come on board this year have allowed us to make it an even more special event! We are very grateful to RTE’, the Ambassade de France en Irlande, the Goethe InstitutLanguages Connect, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in DublinSt. Kilian’s Deutsche Schule in Dublin, the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, Your English Language School in Dublin, the Istituto Italiano di CulturaBrady LanguagesThe Stop B&BAtlas Language SchoolSeachtain na Gaeilge le Energia, the Chester Beatty LibraryUnuhiIrish Architecture FoundationÁras na nGaelCreative Ireland and Massimo Russo.

And last but not least, do not forget that the festival is only good craic if you come!
A MASSIVE thank you, grazie, merci, gracias, obrigados, mulțumesc, go raibh maith agat teşekkürler
to all the hundreds of people who have attended our two Festivals!

See you in 2020!

If you would like to be the first to know, subscribe to the Mother Tongues Festival Newsletter.

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Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, Dublin

Got a question? We are here to help!

Raising bilingual children can be both a happy and a frustrating experience. Parents who move to a new country and want to transmit their mother tongue to their children often face challenges and may be puzzled by the many different strategies that are recommended by friends and family.
We know that parents are very happy when they see that their children develop both English and the heritage language in a harmonious way. Very often parents ask about the magic formula to create the “perfect” bilingual environment for a child to develop two (or more) languages. You will find many tips out there, and many good ideas and suggestions that you can try at home.
However, as many of you know, every family has a unique language history and patterns in the use of the different languages spoken in the home and outside. This is why many parents want to talk to an expert, to describe their own experience, their strategies and the challenges they are facing. Sometimes parents want to ask questions about their child’s linguistic development, about the procedures to be referred to speech and language therapy, or they simply want to be reassured that they are doing the right thing.

Claudia Kunkel, Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, DublinMother Tongues offers a free one to one chat to all members. We can meet you in person or via Skype, or we can talk on the phone, and we discuss your situation, your questions about your child’s linguistic development and the strategies that would best suit your family. Together we discuss suitable options to encourage your child to speak your language.

If you would like to avail of this service or to find out more about our private consultations please contact Claudia Kunkel.