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Languages from the Cradle

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Lullabies from the cradle

Lingua 1  -Socrates Programme European Union (2006-2008)

Languages from the Cradle is a unique project designed for children aged 0-6 who, thanks to the project products, could listen and play with lullabies of 7 different European languages, with the help of their parents or carers.

A  rich emotional and linguistic environment has a critical impact on the rapid development of a child’s brain. Lullabies combine these two factors, providing the child with an emotional safe and warm haven, and at the same time with the sounds and rhythms of their native language or indeed the introduction to the language of another culture.

Languages from the Cradle is a direct response to the need for European citizens to learn other European languages. The starting point of the project is the recognition that the best way to learn or be introduced to a new language is in the home.

I was involved in the research of lullabies in English and in Italian, in creating the pedagogical activities around the lullabies and in recording 35 lullabies, old and new, in 7 languages,  with native speaker singers. It was a wonderful experience and the result was a truly multicultural product that so much differs from the commercialized globalized music available everywhere…

The recording took place at the University of London, department of Arts and Humanities.

PROJECT WEBSITE 

The original project website was transformed into a new website which contains mainly the project products and is managed by one of the project partners.

 http://lullabies-of-europe.org/index.htm

Project coordinator

Cukurova University, Adana, Turkey

Partner countries

United Kingdom, Romania, Czech Republic, Denmark,  Cyprus, Greece

Target group

Childre aged 0-6 through their perents, carers and school teachers

Objectives

The project aimed to inspire and motivate young children and families to realize and appreciate the beauty of other European languages and the rich culture they represent.

Many of us have experienced songs in foreign languages in childhood and for many of us these experiences are remembered in later life. The lullabies being collected in this project serve the same purpose and lead to a resonance later in life.

The Languages from the Cradle project produced:

A CD with 35 lullabies in Turkish, English, Italian, Greek, Danish, Czecha and Romanian, sung by native speaker

A book with the lyrics of the lullabies and their translations, along with notes on the languages, the lullabies cultural background in each country and a series of educational activities inthe form of games for each lullaby.

A DVD with interactive games around the lullabies.

An international conference in Antalya, Turkey.

Project  description

Development Research shows that lullabies do much more than lulling a baby to sleep. They provide opportunities for children’s growth and development as well as promoting a loving relationship between parent and child. In addition to instilling a love for music within the child, lullabies lay the foundation for future language growth because the child’s environment can have its most profound impact before age four when intelligence is growing most rapidly (Howle 1989)

Language development begins at birth. During the first 3 years of life, children form the main learning pathways in their brains (Bloom, 1964). At that point, the brain is very receptive to learning by sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and doing (Dryden & Vos, 1997). Later in adult life, everything an individual learns will be built on the information gained during these early years including the sounds that make up language (Kotulak 1996). If adults talk and sing with children, their ability to distinguish the sounds and rhythms of language will develop. They begin to understand how speech is constructed, which is the first step in becoming speakers of their native language.

These early years of child development are particularly important and, according to recent research, there are a series of time periods, or “windows,” in which children learn faster and easier in conjunction with increased brain development. At the end of this time it becomes much more difficult, sometimes impossible, for the child to learn the same thing (Wolfe 1998). Critically the ability to learn a second language is at its highest between birth and the age of six.

 

Much of the data on “learning windows” is relatively new and is still in debate. What is certain, however, is that a rich emotional and linguistic environment has a critical impact on the rapid development of a child’s brain.

The project based on these premises and the partners shared their expertise and creativity.

They met five times during the project life and gained a brilliant experience in their intercultural exchanges.

European values:  a basic premise of the whole European ideal is the preservation, respect and encouragement of the rich diversity of European Union (EU) languages. European culture is embedded in the languages of Europe.

The EU has set itself a goal that each citizen shall be able to understand at least two other European languages.

The Languages from the Cradle project (Lullabies project) was a direct manifestation of this goal

 

Comments

  1. Avatar of Jolanta

    Jolanta

    8 January 2015

    Great project Teresa! I very much like the idea of learning through singing. This Christmas we were singing christmas carols in four languages. Great, interculural experience.

    Best wishes, Jolanta

    • Avatar of Teresa

      Teresa

      8 January 2015

      Thank you, Jolanta!
      A very good idea indeed to sing Christmas carols in many languages. Children will certainly remember them later in life, also because they will be connected to a joyful event, therefore a deep emotional aspect is linked to them.
      It is quite important to expose children to the languages of Europe at an early age, if we want them be European citizens aware of the beauty and richness of our languages and cultures and prepare them to be open to the possibility of working and living in other countries comfortably. Our time is a time of mobilities….

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