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Why diverse subject-matter... matters

In this blog, we often concentrate on the lives of teachers with EAL needs. Over the past six months, we've been exploring together some of the best ways for you to bring your pupils together and create amazing learning experiences that cross different language backgrounds.

But sometimes, there's a glimpse of something simple. Something that's quite hard to quantify. Something that Mantra Lingua can help you to create.

Let me tell you my own story. I grew up in a remote part of Cornwall. Not very diverse. But I instinctively knew (or perhaps good parenting did it) that the world was a big place, full of people with different stories to tell. And I knew that they mattered. I found some of these stories, translated into young-adult fiction in the school library. The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo was about having to leave Nigeria; Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird touched on Kurdish life. (Don't worry; I also learnt to love writers such as 'the immortal Jane' at that age as well). 

If, as a younger child than that, I'd had dual-language picture books, even ones that spoke to me in languages I'd never heard, I'd have been so delighted. Access to a book like Deepak's Diwali would have made a big difference to imaginative and open-minded kids.

Because books can open your mind. They can make you more sympathetic and open towards others. That's why the work of Mantra Lingua, with its range of books introducing children to different cultures and directly getting them to experience other languages, is important. Even if everyone in your class speaks English and shares similar cultural roots.

If 'all the world's a stage', then it's a big stage and the 'players' you might meet and work with come from so many different backgrounds. A broad cultural education is a good idea, and it may as well start early. It was wonderful for us to learn about Christianity from our lovely local vicar, and to go and look at the windows in the beautiful ancient church in the village and learn what the pictures were about. That was a precious piece of learning! But getting Deepak's Diwali and Samira's Eid into the reading corner? That wouldn't have hurt.

Explore. I dare you...