jueves, 14 de septiembre de 2017

A Spanish teacher´s account of her experience beyond the borders in the U.S.


Multilingualism and emotions, a possible reality

I will try to describe one of the most gratifying experiences of my life as a teacher. It happened in a small French-American school located in the heart of Venice, Los Angeles, California. Ecole Claire Fontaine was a completely different experince, where I was ready to work as a Spanish teacher for students of different nationalities and research cultural diversity in schools, as well as the different programs  about multiple intelligences and bilingual education in the US. Following my time in Los Angeles I moved to Florida for three years to work for a Dual Language Program as a Spanish teacher. Now I´m in Spain where fortunately I´m developing new multicultural and bilingual projects. I wanted to share some of those experiences, which undoubtedly marked a new path in my life, both professionally and personally.

The head teacher and founder of the school, Mrs.Joelle Dumas, from France, made important contributions to my research.I love visiting Los Angeles and the school every time I can. I was visiting the school again this summer after my trip to Hawaii. We are working together on my next speech about "Bilingual Education" and her philosophy of education at the World Congress Education "Mundo Educa 2018".

Visiting Ecole Claire Fontaine, August 2017, with the founder, Mrs. Joelle Dumas

 Although the experience is hard to put into words, these lines which accompany some images of capturing intimate moments, may help you to understand the human value of the school’s teaching philosophy. I modestly hope that this account of my experience will help other professionals in the field of education to understand the essence and importance of multilingualism and senses in early childhood education, and the multiple benefits on cognitive and emotional development of a child.

The school considered artistry and the development of imagination to be an integral part of learning and play. The children tend to absorb the world through their senses, so they respond better to active ways of learning. The teachers paid special attention to the tone of voice, physical contact, body gestures, color, and harmony. The organization of space offered opportunities for creative play. The school focussed on the importance of outdoor activities with the intent of providing real experiences with nature, climate, and seasons. 
It was based on pedagogical principles of Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner, who placed the child at the center of the universe and gave special importance to learning through the senses in a caring environment and with natural materials. They developed a system of multilingual inmersion in French, English, and Spanish where familiar, natural, and cultural environments were in complete harmony. 

They used natural sources that can be transformed with the imagination to suit a wide variety of purposes. 

Musical education has an important role based on the extensive research which shows that, before birth, music stimulates the brain and provides a platform for developing hearing, language, and communication skills, as well as creativity. Using the Universal Dauffenbach method, the children were exposed to music education early, a teaching experience imported from France that is proven to be very successful.

In all of the activities they used a simultaneous early bilingualism in which each teacher addressed the child in their respective native language. The activities were part of a globalization in a multilingual environment of creative, playful, and participatory experiences. 

The most important was the special emphasis on communication exchange of emotions and functionality, and contextualization of learning. Children´s speech was never translated from one language to another. This is an essencial requirenment to allow the development of the neurolinguistic capacity of speaking in many languages. This is the OPOL Method (One Person, One Language), a popular method adopted by multilingual families which attempt to raise bilingual children. This term was first introduced by the French linguistic Maurice Grammont in 1902. He theorized that by separating the languages from the beggining, parents could prevent confusion and code-mixing in their bilingual children. His conclusion was that the child to become fluent in two or more languages before the age of 5 and, consequently, would allow for a perfect brain development. 

The main basis of this method is that the child naturally acquires the language system which is important to establish close relationships with the people around them (Abdelilah-Bauher).

"A school where multilingualism and emotions work together"

For additional information about Ecole Claire Fontaine, see the link : 

Here are some more pictures of my experience: 

Pictures of my experience

I will give a speech about this wonderful project at the 1st World Congress Education that will take place on February 2018, La Coruña, Spain. See the link below for more details: 

Mundo Educa 2018

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