Using puppets to create an open language policy in the classroom

AUTHor

Rebecca Nolan

Dublin City University

  • Literacy
  • Drama
  • Art
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Intercultural awareness
  • Emotional development
  • Oral language

Often times children are unsure as to when to use their home language in school. Teachers can unknowingly send mixed signals as to when it is appropriate and when it is not, which may result in children not using their L1 at all.

Inhibition of their mother tongue may contribute to feelings of shame. It i s important as a teacher to create an atmosphere in the classroom that welcomes and encourages home languages at all times.
One way to foster this environment is to introduce puppets! Puppets are an excellent way to make children feel as though their home languages are welcome. Whether it be introducing a puppet who is visiting from another country (for example, Claude from France) or a puppet who loves hearing other languages, children will sure love the engagement with the “guest” in their class.
Teachers can explain to the class that they are having a “visitor” coming to stay with them for a few weeks. This visitor will be teaching them all about their language, culture and heritage, but in return, he/she also wants to hear the same back from them. The puppet will stay in the classroom, and although it may not be used at all times, it will be actively “listening” out for the inclusion of all languages throughout the school day. Hearing this makes the puppet very happy and as a result, it might decide to come out and talk to the children. This creates an atmosphere where linguistic diversity is encouraged and welcomed at all times.

Introducing puppets who are from other countries allows for children to engage with their culture and heritage. Hearing about the language and culture associated with another country opens a door for conversation with the children about the language and culture associated with their home and their heritage. Through
conversation and discussion, children should come to feel proud of their heritage, whether that be from Ireland or another country in the world.
The idea of using puppets can be further developed by getting the children to make their own puppets as well. There are many great websites and videos online that show how puppets can be made, using socks, lollipop sticks, etc.! Children can make these puppets with a country in mind, whether it be their native home or another country. Children’s puppets can then interact with one another to
teach that language and culture. This allows for cross-curricular links from subjects such as Art, Drama and Geography, which is always a help in today’s crowded curriculum!
From creating a class puppet show to writing letters and postcards to the puppet, there are endless activities one can do with puppets in the classroom to promote linguistic diversity. All in all, puppets are a great tool to be used in any school setting to include all languages and learn about different cultures.

language explorers

Introducing puppets who are from other countries allows for children to engage with their culture and heritage. Hearing about the language and culture associated with another country opens a door for conversation with the children about the language and culture associated with their home and their heritage. Through conversation and discussion, children should come to feel proud of their heritage, whether that be from Ireland or another country in the world.

The idea of using puppets can be further developed by getting the children to make their own puppets as well.
There are many great websites and videos online that show how puppets can be made, using socks, lollipop sticks, etc.! Children can make these puppets with a country in mind, whether it be their native home or another country. Children’s puppets can then interact with one another to teach that language and culture. This allows for cross-curricular links from subjects such as Art, Drama and Geography, which is always a help in today’s crowded curriculum!

From creating a class puppet show to writing letters and postcards to the puppet, there are endless activities one can do with puppets in the classroom to promote linguistic diversity.
All in all, puppets are a great tool to be used in any school setting to include all languages and learn about different cultures.

Interested in Language Explorers?
Register for our newsletter to receive news,
updates and the access to the Language Explorers starter pack