Utilising the culture of EAL learners in the classroom

So many teachers are interested in their EAL learners’ cultural background. Most  Polish children, who attended a Polish school, will know the legend of the Wawel dragon (Legenda o Smoku Wawelskim) or the Locomotive poem full of  wonderful huffing, puffing, whistling and whizzing onomatopoeic sounds (Lokomotywa).

Many Polish books have been awarded literary prizes, the best ones receiving the Order of the Smile, granted by children themselves. Polish author of “The book of Bees” Piotr Socha, was awarded the prize for best scientific book in the ‘children’s book’ category at Wissenschaftsbuch des Jahres 2017 in Vienna.One of my favourite Polish books for children is Mr Blott’s Academy (Akademia pana Kleksa) by Jan Brzechwa. Mr. Blott is a teacher-magician. He is absent-minded  and gives out freckles as prizes because “freckles are good for your brain”.  His Academy is only for boys whose names start with a letter A as Mr. Blott does not want to clutter up his head with all the letters of the alphabet. At the Academy he teaches blottery, letter-spinning and globe games. He changes the size of objects with an enlarging pump.Here is an example of how he prepares food :

Mr. Blott began to make the roast. To do this, he put one candle flame into a big roasting tin, and then put a tiny piece of meat on to the flame. He threw in   two pieces of glass: one red and one white and sprinkled it all with the grey powder. When the meat was ready and the glasses got soft, he put the magnifying pump to the bottom of the tin and   pressed it repeatedly.  The roasting tin immediately filled itself to the brim with   an appetizing roast beef, covered with beetroot and mashed potatoes. To finish it off, Mr. Kleks painted green dill on the potatoes”.

I have taught a lesson about Mr. Blott  in Y6. After the lesson a quiet Russian pupil came to me and asked: “Miss, is there a Russian translation of this book?” The best recommendation ever!!

A useful resource: Polish Books for Kids in Translation

Cover and illustrations by Avi Katz in Kaytek the Wizard, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, 2012, photo: Penlight Publications
English cover of The Book of Bees from the shop window of Mable’s Fables in Toronto, Canada, photo: courtesy of Abram’s Books
Posted by Gosia Bates on