International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue (see more here).

Yesterday afternoon, on the 21st, the task force of the City of Thessaloniki for the Integration of Migrants with the support of UNICEF Europe and Central Asia and the European Commission organised a special event to celebrate IMLD. During the event, children 2-17 years old will have the chance to participate in a variety of linguistic awareness activities with the help of educators from many organisations such as Arsis, Solidarity Now, METAdrasi, RTI, Union of Hellenic-Arabic Friendship and of course DIA-drasis/YMCA!

We had every reason to celebrate our many languages here in ΔΙΑ-ΔΡΑΣΙΣ: Παιδικό Κέντρο / DIA-drasis: Child Centre! We were more than glad to participate in this event! All organisations shared a few words -it was a unique experience to listen your words translated in so many languages. Children had the chance to do many activities, to play floor games, to express their creativity and learn or share words of their mother language.

Our stand was a colorful and multilingual corner where three activities for children took place:

  • multilingual puzzle “Across languages – across worlds” The activity is based on cognates (words with common etymological origin) or common used words (e.g. hello, good morning etc.) in different languages. The level of difficulty of the activity can vary aiming in differentiation of learning. The players have to connect the puzzle pieces and read / learn how the depicted word is called in other languages. The overarching objective of the activity is to reinforce language contact.
  • Floor game with numbers “3, 2, 1… roll!” The activity is based on numerals learning. 4 sets of cards depict 2 set of numbers from 1 to 6 in numerals used in Arabic and in Greek and two dice (one with numbers, one with body parts). Children can learn to recognize numbers in both languages. Given that the origin of the modern numeric system (0-9) in Europe and worldwide is based on the Arabic numeric system, this game offers the opportunity to learn about math history too.
  • Arts and crafts activity “We build our world with color and imagination” The activity is based on arts and crafts techniques. Children can draw, color, cut and use mixed media collage to form birds that carry a message in various languages. Our Art instructor, Stella Papadopoulou, member of Polydromo: group for bilingualism and multiculturalism in education and society, facilitates the activity.