Monday, February 20, 2017

Schools : Intenational Mother Language Day : Multilingual education

"On the occasion of this Day, I launch an appeal for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade." 

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General  

Each year on the 21 February, UNESCO invites all of us to recognize and celebrate mother languages on International Mother Language Day (IMLD).  

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.   

So, tomorrow, we are celebrating IMDL 2017UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21, 2017 under the theme: 

“Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. 

To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages

credits: Unesco

It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.


What is Multilingual education?

Multilingual education facilitates access to education while promoting equity for populations speaking minority and/or indigenous languages, especially girls and women:

  • It emphasizes the quality of teaching and learning with a focus on understanding and creativity;
  • It reinforces the cognitive aspect of learning by ensuring the direct application of learning outcomes to the learner’s life through the mother tongue;
  • It enhances dialogue and interaction between learner and teacher by allowing genuine communication from the beginning;
  • It facilitates participation and action in society and gives access to new knowledge and cultural expressions, thus ensuring a harmonious interaction between the global and the local.


"We are beings of language. Cultures, ideas, feelings and even aspirations for a better world come to us first and foremost in a specific language, with specific words. These languages convey values and visions of the world that enrich humanity. Giving value to these languages opens up the range of possible futures, and strengthens the energy needed to achieve them."

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General  

credits: Unesco

Education in the mother language is an essential part of achieving these goals, to facilitate learning and to bolster skills in reading, writing and mathematics

It requires a sharper focus on:

  • Teaching training 
  • Revisions of academic programmes 
  • Creation of suitable learning environments.

Quality education should be delivered in the language spoken at home. However, this minimum standard is not met for hundreds of millions, limiting their ability to develop foundations for learning. 

Increasingly, information and knowledge are key determinants of wealth creation, social transformation and human development. 

credits: Unesco

Multilinguism on the Internet:
Language is a primary vector for communicating information and knowledge, thus the opportunity to use one’s language on the Internet will determine the extent to which one can participate in emerging knowledge societies.
The beginning of the Internet has brought about diverse opportunities for sharing information and knowledge in various languages. Today, anyone in principle can produce content, share it with the rest of the world and receive feedback. 

Nowadays, the Internet is considered as a primary way of sharing information and knowledge. But while, in principle, it is open to all languages when certain technical conditions are met and the necessary human and financial resources are in place, in reality this is far from being the case. 
A large number of languages are still not present on the Internet. It is estimated that out of the world’s approximately 6,000 languages, just 10 of them make up 84.3 per cent of people using the Internet, with English and Chinese the dominant languages, accounting for 52 per cent of Internet users worldwide. 

credits: Unesco

Key Messages: 

  • Children should be taught in a language they understand, yet as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand. 
  • Speaking a language that is not spoken in the classroom frequently holds back a child’s learning, especially for those living in poverty. 
  • At least six years of mother tongue instruction is needed to reduce learning gaps for minority language speakers. 
  • In multi-ethnic societies, imposing a dominant language through a school system has frequently been a source of grievance linked to wider issues of social and cultural inequality. 
  • Education policies should recognize the importance of mother tongue learning. 
  • Linguistic diversity creates challenges within the education system, notably in areas of teacher recruitment, curriculum development and the provision of teaching materials.

in Gobal Education Monitoring Report 2016


  • Propose your students to tweet in their mother Language on February 21 on the theme: Why it's important to learn heir native language. Of course you must prepare the tweets before being published on Twitter;
  • Join to each tweet a translation on a different language (foreign languages of the school curriculm, so that more people could read their message;
  • Add a hashtag to their tweet, for example #(the name of the language they are writing in);
  • Follow along the hashtag,#imld17 students will read messages from around the world in other languages and retweet some of them (foreign languages of school curriculum) to help amplify every messages they read;
  • Wherever in the world you may be, and whatever language you speak, ask your students to record a small video (each class, one short video) where students could say a small phrase in their moither tongue to share with a school from another country, and different language;
  • Ask foreign schoolmates to do the same for a school linguistic exchange project.

credits: Unesco

Some thoughts:

A language lives through the people who speak it. Therefore, teaching kids in their inherited language is the best thing to do to keep that language alive. 

Reviving a language is possible: the Mirandês - Mirandese languageis the second language in Portugal. This romance language, sparsely spoken in a small area of northeastern Portugal was on the verge of exctintion (only a few speakers), is now being taught in different schools.

Same to the Yurok language, one of the 90 languages of California, which was on the verge of extinction, is now being taught in schools.

When we lose a language, we lose a cultural heritage, the special ways different people express their relationships, their families, and the world that they see.

Language acquisition and mother tongue literacy should ideally be supported by written resources such as - but not limited to - books, primers and textbooks, to support oral activities. Written materials in mother tongues reinforce learners’ literacy acquisition and build strong foundations for learning.

Technology  is allowing many languages to increase audience by establishing a presence on YouTube, social networks as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and of course by texting on smarphones.

"The better we understand how to value languages, the more tools we will have to build a future of dignity for all."

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General



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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Schools : Apps : Learn to Plant Growth in Space

Astronaut Naomi, cosmic comrade
screenshot: SSI Plant Growth

"Welcome to the International Space Station! As the newest member of the ISS crew, it’s your task to familiarize yourself with the station, and help out with the plant growth experiment."

NASA ISS Plant Growth

As a veggie and admirer of NASA exploitations, I was pretty excited to hear about NASA Science Investigations: Plant Growth, a free game.

Released two months ago, the educational app lets students zoom around the International Space Station (ISS), complete various astronaut tasks, and even interact with a fellow astronaut. 

Most importantly! It teaches young people how to grow crops like the ones NASA astronauts tend to by using the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) aboard the ISS.

screenshot: SSI Plant Growth
It's well worth the download if your students would love to visit the ISS. Or maybe my/ their love veggie.
First, they learn how to maneuver themselves around the ISS, much like an astronaut would. Each rack and feature aboard the ISS is replicated flawlessly in the game, which is great and terribly confusing because everything looks the same.

screenshot: SSI Plant Growth

Here some advices of the game to students:

Trying to move in zero-g will be different than what you are used to on Earth! Spend some time flying and flipping around the station without gravity to assist you.

Once you’ve become comfortable moving in zero-g, find astronaut Naomi, your cosmic comrade. 

She recruits you into helping her grow fresh vegetables on board the ship, which is entails more wandering around the ship in search of a laptop. 

screenshot: SSI Plant Growth
via Gizmondo

 Assist her in cutting-edge research: 
  • How micro-gravity effects plant growth in space. 

  • What kind of light do they need? 

  • How do you water plants without gravity? 

  • Why is growing food important in space?

  • Collect mission patches for completing tasks and for making discoveries. 

screenshot: SSI Plant Growth
via Gizmondo

Can you grow enough plants to create a salad for the astronauts to eat? Launch time!

Astronaut Peggy Whitson harvests Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 17.
Credits: NASA TV

Some information:

The app also contains information on plant growth experiments, for use in the classroom and at home.

screenshot: SSI Plant Growth

Target: + 4

Curriculum: Sciences

Language: English

Gadgets : iPad, iPhone.

Free game

For those more talented than I, the app is an exciting way to learn more about the importance of plant growth in space.

credits : NASA

“These experiments will provide a key piece of the puzzle of how plants adjust their physiology to meet the needs of growing in a place outside their evolutionary experience,” Dr. Paul said. “And the more complete our understanding, the more success we will have in future missions as we take plants with us off planet.”

University of Florida’s Dr. Anna Lisa Paul

I'm sure that Sciences teachers will catch this educational resource and will include the game into sciences curriculum.

I bet the students will be excited using this game in the classroom. They can visit SSI and learn to plant lettuce... in space!

“I love gardening on Earth, and it is just as fun in space . . .” (...)  “I just need more room to plant more!”

Peggy Whitson tweeted in early February


Copyright © 2017G-Souto'sBlog,®
Creative Commons License
Schools : Apps : Learn to Plant Growth in Space bG-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Resources: Links

Veggie Plant Growth System Activated on International Space Station

Meals Ready to Eat: Expedition 44 Crew Members Sample Leafy Greens Grown on Space Station

Cabbage Patch: Fifth Crop Harvested Aboard Space Station

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Schools : Happy Valentine's Day : let's help the Pangolin... gaming !

Google Doodle St Valentin's Day (game)

Valentine's Day is today Tuesday, and Google is marking the festivities with a Doodle. It's always fun to go onto Google and see how they transform their logo, isn't it? You know how I love Doodles!

This year, the Google Valentine's Day Doodle for 2017 is a little different. Yes, it's a game. 

It's a video game which took a year to develop and involved a six-person team of animators and engineers. Wow! 

Pangolin love

Thinking of Valentine's Day, and the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't wildlife conservation.

The Doodles for Feb. 11, 12 13 and 14, all of which turn into an interactive game upon clicking — feature a pangolin looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for its mate. 

The doodle stars two lovestruck pangolins, scaly mammals native to Asia and Africa that look like a cross between armadillos and anteaters. All eight species of pangolins are endangered by a thriving trade of poaching and smuggling. It is the world's most trafficked animal, with more than 1 million taken from their natural habitats to be eaten or used in traditional Chinese medecine.

Google notes in the game that pangolins are the most poached and trafficked mammals in the world. 

The game also includes a link to a World Wildlife website, which invites people to protect them.

Google Valentine's Day game 2017 is four levels and centers around the pangolin, the cutest mammal you've probably never heard of until now. 

Upon clicking each Doodle, Google users will be led to a game, where a love-struck pangolin must collect different elements to make the perfect Valentine's gift to its love: cocoa beans on the first day, musical notes on the second, and ribbons for lanterns on the third.

Why the Pangolin?

Did you know that Pangolins are the world’s only scaly mammal. The eight species of pangolin that roam the wilds of Asia and Africa are strong swimmers who rely on their long tongues and heightened sense of smell to find nourishment.

Sadly however, pangolins are  in the world, and all 8 species face a significant threat from poachers and smugglers. 

Often thought of as a reptile, pangolins are actually mammals. They are covered in distinctive scales that ward off predators in the wild. When threatened, pangolins quickly curl into a tight ball and may use their sharp-scaled tails to protect themselves.
Known as the “scaly anteater,” pangolins feed exclusively on ants, termites and larvae. With no teeth for chewing, a pangolin picks up food with its sticky tongue, which can reach lengths greater than the pangolin’s body.

screenshot Valentine's Day Google game


My usual readers know that students love games! So right! And I used to include games into the school curricula. 

Google is really stepping up its game this Valentine's Day, and you might be wondering how to play the Google Valentine's Day game

Never fear, I will help you out. I say this as someone who is terrible at computer games. No, I'm not. But I learned with Sara Levine/Bustle. So, you and your little students will play this game with success. They are better than us, yes?

This year's Google Valentine's Day game is four levels and centers around the pangolin, the cutest mammal you've probably never heard of until now. 

But first, ask your students to visit the World Wildlife Fund to learn more about the pangolin’s plight and to support WWF’s efforts to save the pangolin and other endangered species.​

Day 1: Ghana

Now, ask students to see the different countries where pangolins have their natural habitat. Students will be invited to look on Google Earth.

Then they will read the legends of the 11, 12, 13 and 14 February Valentine's Day.

The first Doodle, displayed Feb. 11, 2017, highlights the giant pangolin, a species native to Africa: 

On a sunny morning in Ghana, the ingredients for pangolin love are falling into place:

Don’t let its hard outer scales fool you: inside, our friend Pangolin is a big softie, pining over a long-distance romance. Now, the letter this pangolin’s been waiting for has arrived! Pangolin’s sweetheart wants to meet for real, and it’s ready to roll across the globe to make it happen.

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

But wait! Pangolin can’t arrive empty-clawed. What’s the ideal gift for a mate? What makes for the perfect date? Pangolin decides to ask its friends around the globe for advice.

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

“If you want to make a sweet impression, the recipe is simple,” says the giant pangolin. Collect cocoa beans for a delectable dessert!

Day 2: India

The second Doodle, released Feb. 12, 2017, features the Indian pangolin, a species native to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan:

Still on the roll in the quest for love, Pangolin is captivated by a melody coming from the depths of the jungle. Curiosity piqued, our scaly friend detours into the trees, discovering the source of the song to be...another pangolin!

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

Each note floats loftier than the last, drawing the attention of adoring fans. The powerful romance of the balad gives Pangolin an idea...perhaps a song like this will make Pangolin’s soulmate swoon!

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

But where will our friend find the notes to create such a song? Pangolin decides to take a swim and collect inspiration underwater.

Day 3: China

The third Doodle, released Feb. 13, 2017, is in honor of the Chinese pangolin, native to southern China, Taiwan, northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar:

Searching for the rhythms of love, Pangolin rolls onward to China, where our scaly friend encounters its brethren engaged in a curious ritual.

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

The traveling mammal becomes hypnotized by the smooth moves of the Chinese pangolins’ love dance.

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017

Suddenly: an idea! Wouldn’t this be a jazzy way to win its mate’s affection?

“If only I had enough ribbons to make it happen!”. Then Pangolin notices something floating in the distance - a length of ribbon, hanging from a lantern... then more, scattered along the path! Pangolin rolls ahead, snagging as many ribbons as it can carry.

Day 3: The Philippines

How to game? Tell your little students:

  • Go the Google Doodle website;

There they'll see the adorable pangolins, and then can read their little love story;

Visit The Giant Pangolin For Advice On How To Impress Bae;

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017
via Sara Levine/ Bustle

In order to get there, they'll need to navigate a few obstacles. 

  • Tell them to use the left and right arrow keys to move and the space bar to jump;
  • Collect Cocoa Beans To Make A Yummy Dessert;

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017
via Sara Levine/ Bustle

Again, they will use the right arrow key to move forward, and the space bar to jump over any obstacles in your way;

  • Collect 150 Beans To Make The Cake;

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017
via Sara Levine/ Bustle

If they don't get enough beans, students must go back and play again. And keep playing.

screenshot Valentine's Day 2017
via Sara Levine/ Bustle

There are 4 different levels, all with different challenges, and the game will run through Valentine's Day, so they have the time to complete all the levels. 

They only have three minutes to get through each level. So wish them good luck!

Note: The game Pangolin Love is for iPad and smartphone.

Google teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to bring awareness about the pangolin, so this game isn't just fun. It's for a good cause. 

What's more, they can Adopt a Pangolin (one by class).

Finally, invite your students to send a Pangolin ecard.

Some thoughts:

Environmental education is an important issue to include into any curriculum you teach. Endangered species are every day disappearing and we must take care of biodiversity. Pangolins range from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered.

Hope your students would love to play Valentine's Day game helping WWF to protect pangolins, the most the most trafficked mammal.



Copyright © 2017G-Souto'sBlog,®

Creative Commons License
Schools : Happy Valentine's Day : let's help the Pangolin... gaming ! bG-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.