An amazing language exchange project, with Taiwan

Spelling in Greek! How cool is that?? Language ambassadors in action...

Spelling in Greek! How cool is that?? Language ambassadors in action…

 

Alexiana , holding her flashcards!

My daughter Alexiana , holding her flashcards!

When an English speaker doesn’t understand something, he would say “It’s all Greek to me.” But have you ever wondered about the origin of that phrase? Why Greek? Why not, say, Urdu or Aramaic?

I have looked it up in  a dictionary and found out that, it comes from the latin phrase Graecum est, non legitur or Graecum est, non potest legi (It is Greek; it cannot be read). Medieval Latin scribes in monasteries would write that phrase if they had trouble translatin

The Alphabet flashcards

The Alphabet flashcards

 

The phrase probably entered modern English usage when William Shakespeare used it in his 1599 play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Here it is in Act 1 Scene 2:

Cassius: Did Cicero say any thing?
Casca: Ay, he spoke Greek.
Cassius: To what effect?
Casca: Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more news too: Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar’s images, are put to silence. Fare you well. There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it.

Beautiful artwork!

Beautiful artwork!

In this context, an educated and wealthy aristocrat in the Roman Republic should be able to read and speak Greek. Casca, who speaks fluent Greek, is probably just playing dumb because he doesn’t want to repeat a remark that is unflattering to Caesar.

Obviously, when a Greek doesn’t understand something, he doesn’t say “It’s all Greek to Me.” Rather, he says, Αυτά μου φαίνονται κινέζικα, or “This strikes me as Chinese.”

mosaic taiwan greek2

Chinese is rated as one of the most difficult languages to learn.The Kangxi dictionary contains 47,035 characters!!!

Well, this language exchange  was Annie’s idea ,with which I agreed at once !   Annie and me thought that, we could both try to….help  solve this misunderstanding!! Or just, try to help our students get more familiar with another alphabet or characters which might have seemed weird to them till then…therefore, promote multilingualism and multiculturalism! mosaic taiwan greek4

 

To start with, Annie came up with the idea of using  flashcards, for our language exchange project! I asked my  students to produce the flash cards for me. I gave each one an item to draw. I also asked them to make a second flashcard with the one letter of the Greek Alphabet and a third one with the word of the item they had drawn on their first card, in greek !They were all  later mounted on card to make the set. There were  3 different piles: one with the alphabet , 24 letters, one with the words only and a third one with the words in picture cards, both in Greek and English.

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We also, decided to send our partners in Taiwan ,one of the books teachers use to teach Greek  language to the first graders in all Greek schools..she was asked to  show it to her  students and tell them it was  our first graders greek language book!

Word flashcards

Word flashcards

My partner teacher in Taiwan, Annie Tsai did something similar: She asked her students to make flashcards of some basic/interesting Chinese characters and they ‘ve recorded a few simple greeting language video clips. They also created beautiful and very artistic picture  flashcards , and a sepearate pile of word flashcards for each one of the picture flashcards!The words on them, were written both in mandarin and english!

The activities we did in my class using the mandarin flashcards, were the following:

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Memory Activities

Memory Tester

I placed a selection of  word flash cards on the floor in a circle.

Students had five  minutes to memorise the cards.

In groups, they had two minutes to write as many of the names  they could  remember as possible , on the board.Too hard to do  for most of my students…but, working in teams, made it easier!

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Matching Game ( old time classic) 

I spreaded  all the cards ( both picture and word cards ) on the floor .  Students took  turns flipping two cards and calling out the cards that they flipped ( in english) .  If  it was  a pair then they kept  it and got  a point.  If they didn’t  call out the card then they couldn’t  keep it.

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TPR activities

Point or race to the flash cards

I stack  picture  flash cards around the class.

I showed  their word flashcard match    and students pointed  or raced  to the right picture card.

Again, we played this game, in teams.

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Bring me 

I placed a selection of  picture cards and word on the floor  at the far end of the class. Students stood  behind a line at the other end. I shouted, ‘Bring me a shirt- one of the  flashcards words, which was both written in English and in Mandarin!’ The first student who handed  in both the word and the picture shirt flashcards,  won  the cards.

mosaic taiwan greek7

Search Game

I gave all students a word card. Then, I hid  the picture cards around the classroom, on things, under things, and in things.  I had the students look around the room for one or two minutes to find the word card that matched their picture card! I awarded stickers to all students who finally managed to do so. I made sure, the fastest students got bigger stickers…

This is what our friends sent us as their language delegates! Cute!

This is what our friends sent us as their language delegates! Cute!

Spelling activities

Spelling Game

That was the last activity we did, on day two. I asked the students to take one pair of flashcards ( word card and its matching picture card ) at home.

They had to try to learn the mandarin spelling of that word and recall it, the very next day we had a lesson. In turns, students had to come to the board and try to write that word in mandarin without looking at their flashcards!

That was a team game , too! They got so excited that they asked me to play it , again and again…! Teams , were awared points and both winners and…not winners,  special stickers!

Amazing delegates! My students, took them home! They were so excited!

Amazing delegates! My students, took them home! They were so excited!

Checking spelling...

Checking spelling…

mosaic taiwan flash 14

The Search Game

The Matching Game..

The Matching Game..

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The Matching Game..

 

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The Matching Game..

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The Point or race to the flash cards game

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The Point or race to the flash cards game

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Spelling Game

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Spelling Game

Happy his spelling was right!

Happy his spelling was right!

mosaic Taiwan flash

Spelling Game

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The Matching Game

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The Bring me game

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Spelling Game

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The Memory Tester game

 

Now, I’d like you to have a look at some of the photos from Annie’s class which show   similar activities she did with her students, using our own  flashcards!   These photos say it all…I’ll ask Annie to comment on them later….

Taiwan ab2

Our flashcards in Annie’s class! Soime of them are placed upside down!! They were as familiar with our alphabet as we were with their mandarin characters!..

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Our partners’ first effort to put our letters flashcards in alphabetical order!

They sent us these photos to help them solve the...mystery concerning these particular letters which seemed confusing to them!

They sent us these photos to help them solve the…mystery concerning these particular letters which seemed confusing to them!

Their effort to spell in Greek! This is touching, isn't it?

Their effort to spell in Greek! This is touching, isn’t it?

One more photo where they seem to say " It's all greek to us"!! haha

One more photo where they seem to say ” It’s all greek to us”!! haha

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Our Greek Language book, in Taiwan!

One of Annie's students flashcard! Amazing !

One of Annie’s students flashcard! Amazing !

A gift spinner- which I later used in my class to teach feelings- and some of the delegates which Annie sent to my students!

A gift spinner- which I later used in my class to teach feelings- and some of the delegates which Annie sent to my students!

taiwan ab parcel

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