Sink or swim?

1st October 2004 at 01:00
A bilingual teacher created this simple science lesson on "sinking and floating" in Hindi - and it could be used with any language.

The children learn the concept of properties of materials that sink or float in water as well as the names of objects, such as feather, penny, pen, banana, wood and a few repetitive expressions in Hindi.

The lesson should include a prepared pictorial chart that shows the Hindi names of objects and the English pronunciation, and may also show the Hindi script. With such props children feel comfortable learning in Hindi.

They work in small groups and each table has a tank of water and set of objects to test. The teacher holds up one object at a time and goes through a repetitive pattern of questions and language use on prediction and results: * ye kya hai? (What is this?) * iskaa naam kya hai? (What is the name of this?) * dubegi? (Will it sink?) * taregi? (Will it float?) After guessing and answering, the children test the object. The teacher praises their efforts @06 Body Text SemiBold rl 1st throughout, using phrases in Hindi: shabaash! (Well done!) and bahut achhaa! (Very good!).

The teacher's gestures, role-play and repeatedpattern of language use, as well as the familiarity of the activity, helps the children to make sense of learning in Hindi. To this is added their greatest asset, their own language knowledge: how tone, intonation, gestures and rhythm can help to communicate meaning in all languages.

Soon the room fills with the sounds of "shabaash", "bahut achhaa" and "dubegi? taregi?" with accompanying acting and intonation.

The pupils then record the results in columns. Children may write the names in Hindi alongside the sounds of Hindi: this helps them see how the Hindi script (Sanskrit) looks. It may also show that Hindi shares some common punctuation marks with English, but does not use capital letters.

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