Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hello World! Greetings in 42 Languages Around the Globe!

Hello World! Greetings in 42 Languages Around the Globe is written and illustrated by Manya Stojic.  It is geared toward 1st-3rd grade students and I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. 
            Each page in this book shows a child from a spoken language in the world and the way in which that language says hello.  There are a lot of colors throughout the book: background color, hair color, skin color, eye color.  Under each “hello”, the way to pronounce the word is also written.  There is a child on each page, representing the language through prominent features or clothing.  Although most people would generally think that each page represents a country, it is not the case.  A language is on each page, some are not connected to a country and others are connected to a country that has many languages spoken within its borders. 
            Besides the obvious appeals of this book, like immersion in foreign languages, it can also be used to promote an understanding for diversity in the classroom, even with younger elementary students.  The children can be utterly surprised with how many different languages there are: ones that they are proud to know and others they have never heard of.  A great page to serve as an example is page 30.  On this page, there are four children (as opposed to the usual one per page) and each one speaks a different language.  All the ways to say hello look completely different and come from completely different roots.  However, if one pays attention to the languages (Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, and Urdu), one notices that they are all spoken in the country of India and the surrounding areas.  This can show children that even within a country where it may be difficult to tell groups of people apart just based on appearance, there is diversity and communities. 

A mural where students wrote "hello" in different languages

            A way to turn this book into a classroom project would be to choose another word (to mirror the “hello”) like “peace” or “love” and have each student in your class take one language to be responsible for.  Each student has to find the word in their language that fits the English equivalent.  The classroom can then compile a new book with words that the children found on their own- maybe using a translator, a dictionary, or other resources.  This is a great way to ignite interest in foreign languages and allows each child to participate equally in a project together.  A way to wrap the project up could be making a mural with each child’s handprint and their language’s word for “peace” written near it.  The mural can represent the global community and lessons can go even more in depth with the idea of diversity.
 Here is a list of resources (websites, books, lesson plans, etc.) to help teachers cover the topic of diversity and the global community in their classroom!

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