Grade 2 Students Use Mother Tongues to Begin Inquiry into Nutrition

As students inquired into nutrition this week, we presented them with many English words related to food and healthy eating in an A3 grid. We then put students into pairs or groups of three based on, as much as possible, the languages we have identified as being their primary languages, or the languages they can best speak and listen in, and asked them to discuss these words in their shared mother tongues.

We also asked them, as much as they were able, to write the words in the alphabets of their own languages, or draw pictures of what they and their partners decided the words meant in the eventuality that they could not actually write in the script of their mother tongue (a very common scenario with international school students whose mother tongues do not use the Roman alphabet for encoding). Students also learned to use iPads equipped with the Google Translate app to assist them in their inquiries and writing of their native scripts.

Some students found this strategy to be very useful, and even identified cognates between their mother tongues and English.

When teaching with strategies such as these that require students to make use of their mother tongues, we want students to learn and understand that:

  • Their mother tongues should be the first information sources they check upon encountering new vocabulary in English. Students should ask themselves, "Do I know this word/concept/picture/thing in my mother tongue?"
  • It is important when learning new vocabulary in English to begin to understand that same vocabulary in their mother tongues.

Mandarin Translation

Hindi Translation

Khmer Translation

Spanish Translation

Finnish Translation

Malay Translation

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