Community conversations

21st November 2003 at 00:00
In our Teach a Friend a Language (TAFAL) project, some of our students, who are from many different ethnic backgrounds, become teachers of the languages they use in their homes and communities.

They enrol for the competition in pairs and work together over a period of 10 weeks on short dialogues in their particular language. This year pupils ranging from 11 to 14 years worked with several languages, including Albanian, Czech, Greek, Danish and Swahili.

The project culminates in a festival in which the pairs speak in the chosen language for a couple of minutes in front of a judge who also speaks that language. Competitors are invited to decorate a table in a way that reflects the culture they have chosen, and to wear costumes. We have food, music and dancing.

More than 40 languages are spoken at our very multi-cultural school, and everyone at the school gets involved. Students say it means that they can go to their friend's house and use a few words of the family's language, and they gain insights into other cultures.

We teach French, German and Spanish within the main curriculum, but after-school language lessons are also thriving in Spanish, Urdu, Chinese, Punjabi, Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali and French. This year our TAFAL project won a European Award for Languages.

Amelie Annee, Woodbridge High School, London Borough of Redbridge. Email:

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