I Have Got Something to Say, but I Don't Know Your Language Yet! Intermodal Learning in Multicultural Urban Education

I Have Got Something to Say, but I Don't Know Your Language Yet! Intermodal Learning in Multicultural Urban Education

I Have Got Something to Say, but I Don't Know Your Language Yet! Intermodal Learning in Multicultural Urban Education

I Have Got Something to Say, but I Don't Know Your Language Yet! Intermodal Learning in Multicultural Urban Education

Synopsis

"Imagine that you were a child in a foreign country and you could not understand one word of the local language. At school, the teacher motivates you and your peers to express yourselves not only verbally, but in a variety of such "languages" as mask performing, fine arts, movement, music, etc. You are not totally mute anymore, and you have the possibility to participate and show your talents. The intermodal learning method offers a framework wherein the expression in these different art modalities is central. The method helps to develop the personal and the social, as well as the cognitive competence beside learning the new language. It helps to reduce violence and racism and supports the creation of a good atmosphere within the classroom." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

“If you take away a people's language, it's effectively genocide.” This statement roused me to action. Immediately, I understood that these words would change my way of teaching in a fundamental way. This was in 1992, and for the previous nine years I had been teaching a special integration class for non-German speaking immigrant children, called Kleinklasse E, in the city of Zurich.

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and its economic heart. Still, the city and its suburbs with a million inhabitants is a rather small city. Zurich is located in the German part of Switzerland; therefore the spoken language is a Swiss-German dialect. At school, we all have to learn High German as a first foreign language. The written language is High German as well. I used to work in the most underprivileged district of this quite rich town; underprivileged, because the area is known as the red-light district of Zurich, because of the alcohol and drug scene (which fortunately has declined in the last three years), because of a bad traffic situation, and because of the lack of playgrounds. The area is inhabited by a majority of socially, economically, and educationally deprived people, most badly integrated into Swiss mainstream society, Swiss as well as foreigners. The majority of the inhabitants are immigrants, people from the whole world; a multi-cultural melting pot with all its advantages and disadvantages.

Due to the many language differences, I found my students cut off from verbal expression for the first months of school, but I felt nevertheless that they shouldn't grow numb and lose hope in their new surrounding. In 1992, I was introduced to the intermodal expressive method in therapy, counseling, and education. The core of the method of intermodal learning is the natural use of different art disciplines of visual art, music, dance, literature, and theater. It motivates expression not only verbally but in a . . .

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