The second in the series of blog posts from winners of the “Multilingual success in your school” competition! 3rd place winner, Aimee Fenneman from Marymount International School in Rome shares all.
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The internationalism of our school is directly linked to our goals and criteria. Our school has students from more than 60 nationalities with at least 24 different languages. Our staff is also diverse representing a number of different cultures, languages, and religions. As a religious school we welcome staff and students from other religions.
Marymount’s mission is heavily linked to multiculturalism and multilingualism. We believe that language is involved in all learning and is essential to educational progress. In addition, to learning how to use language students must also learn about language and through language.
Aligning with the IB Learner Profile and our own Marymount Learner Profile, which both require students to be open-minded communicators, we encourage our students to understand and appreciate their own linguistic and cultural identities and to be open
to the perspectives, values and traditions of others. We aspire to create a dynamic multilingual learning community in which the principal language of instruction is English, whilst at the same time promoting the development and maintenance of our students’ mother tongues. We also encourage the acquisition of other languages (Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish), and our students thrive within our linguistically and culturally rich environment.
Our multicultural units have three main objectives: to create international awareness through a whole elementary school multicultural unit of learning, to value students' cultural identity and mother-tongues, and to join with our school mission, "Unity through Diversity" to show understanding that as an international community we are united in our differences.
Each grade level chose a multicultural theme, however, the essential questions and concepts for each were the same. The guiding questions for all included What does the word international mean? What makes us an international school? What sorts of things make us different from each other? In what ways are we united? What is your cultural identity? What helps you understand this?
Each grade level then studied the following themes in a 4-6 week unit:
Grade 5: Human Rights
Grade 4 World Religions
Grade 3 The Importance of Our Names
Grade 2 Music and Games from Around the World
Grade Kindergarten and 1 My Identity.
All grades agreed to have at least one dual language activity and at least one multilingual bulletin board. Teachers were encouraged to use interlingual teaching techniques. There was a culminating day at the end of the unit that began with a multilingual assembly led by the ELL students and teachers. The students then spent the rest of the day visiting each other’s classrooms to learn from one another.
What are your next steps for delivering multilingual success in your school?
We continue to develop our multicultural units in our Elementary School and Early Childhood Center. Last year our Language Policy was updated and we continue to implement that and build understanding across the school regarding our beliefs about language teaching and learning and cultural identity.
A spirit of inclusion of all is essential. It is important that we model and support students in understanding their own cultural identities while learning about other students’ identities. In a world that continues to be more global every day, intercultural understanding is a critical element for peace and understanding. Those of us who have the privilege of working in an international school have the opportunity to promote this.
Thank you so much for your story Aimee!
Incase you missed anything, read more about the "Multilingual success in your school" competition:
Interview with Marta Ripolles: Multilingual success in your school competition runner up!
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