Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Mother Tongue Other Tongue Launches in Glasgow!

On the 28th of May, SCILT welcomed young people from Glasgow schools to take part in the launch of the Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) poetry competition at the University of Strathclyde. 

Tawona Sithole in Kunzwana
The young people in attendance participated in an afternoon of creative writing workshops led by three poets SCILT acquired through Live Literature Funding from the Scottish Book Trust. In Tawona Sithole’s workshop, “Kunzwana”, young people from St Andrew’s High school, Carntyne, learned greetings in Shona language. The poet then led them in a series of expressive movement activities and shared his own creative process to inspire learners in their own writing. “Tawona really helped us open up our minds and creativity for our poems”, commented one young person. Others were more engaged by the experience of speaking a new and exotic language “I learned more about languages which was fun!”

A young EAL learner in Windows
In “Windows”, a workshop led by the Edinburgh-based poet, Ken Cockburn, a group of primary EAL learners used the German poem Das Fenster (The Window) by Sarah Kirsh, as a model for writing poems about what they see from the windows of their own homes. The children had the choice to write their poems either in their Mother Tongue language, English or a mixture of both languages. The workshop was highly motivating and gave the children a chance to draw on their shared experience of having English as an additional language. The pupils, from St Maria Goretti, St Timothy’s and St Paul’s primaries in the east end of Glasgow, were delighted to hear the range of mother tongue languages spoken by their peers. I enjoyed hearing the different languages and working together. It was lots of fun!”, said one young participant.

“Na bhot air a shon!”
S3 learners from the Glasgow Gaelic School, Sgoil Ghaidlig Ghlaschu, joined Marcas Mac An Tuair Neir, an Inverness-based poet, in his workshop “Developing new voices in Gaelic poetry”. The young people discussed a selection of Gaelic poems and used this discussion to write short poems which drew on their own personal inspirations, from Scotland to the recent European elections: "Alba, an dùthaich far a bheil a’ ghrian mhòr theth daonnan a’deàrrsadh sìos.  Uill, chan eil ach…" - S3 pupil, Glasgow Gaelic School.

Following the workshops, some of the young people shared their poems in front of an audience of their peers, teachers and delegates from the Diverse Teachers for Diverse Learners Conference which was taking place in the university. One accompanying teacher shared her enthusiasm for the experience, commenting on the increased confidence shown by one of her EAL learners she said, "I was impressed - an emergent silent child standing up and reading a poem to many strangers… It was a superb day!”

The afternoon ended with a chance for the young people to write their thoughts on the experience on "leaves" which they then attached to the “Poet-tree”. This abounded with positive comments about creative writing and languages.

Glasgow schools can register to take part in Mother Tongue Other Tongue from August 2014. For more information, please visit our website http://bit.ly/SSI24L, or contact scilt@strath.ac.uk to subscribe to the SCILT e-bulletin for updates.

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