Even though all of our Guides speak English, when Guiding in Quebec you definitely notice the bilingual/multilingual nature of our province. Many of our girls go to school in French and have trouble reading and writing in English. Instead of shying away from that, we decided to have a meeting all about languages.
We started out by having our Guides group themselves by how many languages they spoke. I was extremely surprised at how many of them spoke up to five! Of course some of those languages are at the “my grandmother is teaching me a few words” stage, but considering the statistics below, I’d say our girls are on the right track!
– Bilingual children are better able to focus their attention on relevant information and ignore distractions.
– Bilingual individuals have been shown to be more creative and better at planning and solving complex problems than monolinguals.
– The effects of aging on the brain are diminished among bilingual adults.
– In Canada, employment rates are higher for French/English bilinguals than monolinguals.
We had a quick discussion about what jobs might require for you to speak more than one language and how it could be helpful for travelling or interacting with others.
Our meeting didn’t just stick to French and English, we decided to see how our girls did with recognizing languages. We cut up a table with 3 sentences (“Hello”, “thank you” and “I don’t speak x language”) in many languages and had them put it back together by patrol.
Teamwork paid off and they got most of them right — did I mention how impressive I find our girls?
During our brainstorming meeting, some of our girls had mentioned being interested in learning to sing a song in sign language so we figured that this would be a good night for it. I found a video online of “On My Honour” and Laura and I learned it well enough to be able to teach the girls. We showed them the video and then taught it bit by bit until we got it up to a nice speed. We’re looking forward to practicing it some more and showing it off during bridging night campfires!
We brought in some bilingual dictionaries with different language combinations and had thought about challenging each patrol to come up with a funny sentence (ex: Pink elephants are the best) with one word per girl that they could translate and teach to the other girls, but we ran out of time as we frequently seem to. Oh well!
Reference for the statistics: http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Bilingualism-in-Young-Children–Separating-Fact-fr.aspx