The children of Maunga Kids Club in Livingstone are turning multilingual, following a recent lesson on how to say ‘hello’ in over 14 different languages. These children already know at least two languages, including English, with some of them capable of speaking in up to four different tongues.
Not only did the children learn how to greet each other in languages similar to their own, such as Tonga, Lozi, and Nyanja - the most typical languages in Livingstone - but also in a range of intercontinental languages including Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Hawaiian, Swedish and Japanese. With the aid of visual cards, they began to learn the different words before playing a game to test how much they could remember. When greeted in a new language, the children had to identify which it was and run to the correct spot in the room to demonstrate they had understood. The game was played several times with the children improving with each turn. They were then set the challenge to only greet each other and other people in a new language for the rest of the day; no ‘hello’ or ‘Malo e lelei’ in Tongan. As you can imagine, the children couldn’t wait to get home to test out their new skills on their family and friends. Learning a new language is proven to stimulate the brain. For the children of Maunga Kids Club it was also a lot of fun and a lesson they will remember for a long time.
After the lesson, it was outside as usual, where volunteers supervised the children playing games and having races.
Maunga Kids Club provides local youngsters with engaging and informal lessons on conservation and health topics, as well as the opportunity to play in a safe environment. Many of these children are growing up dealing with situations way beyond their years. In a country ravaged by HIV/AIDS, they are often caring for ill parents or younger siblings, while missing out on their own childhood. As well as offering these children respite, the sessions also allow us to identify any that may be struggling in their home lives, so that additional support can be provided.