Secondary school teaching materials on multilingualism and more, by Neela Doležalová

The documentary ‘Kanraxël’ was first described to me as a film about multilingualism. Set in Agnack, Senegal, it is common for children to grow up speaking six or more languages. My task was to create secondary school lesson plans and resources to accompany the film.

The project made me think about my own relationship to languages. Firstly, that I only speak English. And secondly, a realisation that the other languages in my family have been lost due to colonisation, migration and assimilation practices.

‘Kanraxël’ is a pedagogical gift. The film is a perfect resource to get young people to explore the benefits of multilingualism, but it also has themes that reach beyond MFL (Modern Foreign Languages).

At its core, ‘Kanraxël’ celebrates language acquisition as a powerful resource. As an economics teacher, this concept of ‘language as resource’ interested me. Further, I was keenly aware from my own teaching that resources such as ‘Kanraxël’ aren’t often available for use in schools. To put it bluntly, there will be students in English secondary schools who may never work from a case-study set in an African country outside of a Geography lessons (and maybe not even there). I therefore became interested in the film’s use in the classroom beyond the topic of multilingualism.

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Example for a teaching activity from the teaching resource bundle

To this end I produced six lessons for Key Stages 3 and 4 that link to current curricula in the subjects of Geography, MFL, PSHE and Economics. These one-hour lessons use short clips from the film to explore themes ranging from the causes and benefits of multilingualism, to migration, supply and demand and infrastructure development.

Other resources include a range of essay and discussion topics suitable for Key Stage 5 students based on viewing the entire film. These essay topics cover a range of subject areas including Languages/Linguistics, Geography, Sociology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Economics, History and Media Studies. The aim of these KS5 resources is to challenge students to extend their thinking, research and writing, whilst also deepening their A-Level knowledge and practice.

All these teaching resources are now freely available on the Kanraxël website: https://www.kanraxel.uk/schools

The website, which also contains free teaching resources for universities, will be launched on February 20th 2018 at an event hosted by the Royal Anthropological Institute: “When multilingualism is your mother tongue – the documentary Kanraxël and associated teaching resources”. After an introduction to the film and the teaching resources, the film Kanraxël will be screened. Registration on Eventbrite for this event is free, but compulsory. Come and join us to reflect on multilingualism as a mother tongue not only in urban centres, but as a world-wide reality!

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