Konrad Boidol | 03.08.2018
Bring children nearer to the German language in a creative way – that is the aim of the Sprachzauber (linguistic magic) of the Volunteer Centre and the Bürgerstiftung Hannover. Weekly volunteers go to 35 kindergartens in Hannover to encourage young visitors to speak. All parties benefit from the offer. The number of kindergartens using language magic is steadily increasing. Now voluntary language sponsors are being sought again. An information event will take place on 23rd August at 11 am at the Volunteer Center Hannover (FWZH) at the Platz der Weltausstellung.
"The children are blooming"
The idea behind the project: language training with children who are not yet as advanced in their development as others their age - for example, because they come from families with migration or flight history or are sometimes still too shy to speak. "It's not about promoting them through school - they need to be supported individually on the basis of their abilities," says Constance Meuer from the FWZH, who coordinates the project. The volunteers themselves develop the methods to do this: Reading, painting, making music, making things together - everything is allowed as long as it is communicated. "The basic tenor is always to talk to the children and to encourage them to speak," explains Meuer. Statistically, the children at this age were already sitting in front of the TV for one hour a day, whereas they only got ten minutes read to them. "Reading and speaking, however, live from affection and togetherness," said the coordinator. Listening to the children, they would quickly open up within the small groups and speak more: "The language godparents can give them attention, and the children will flourish. They notice what can be achieved with speech, "explains Meuer. Thus, speech magic not only serves the development of language, but also increases the children's self-esteem.
Great interest in the project
Linguistic magic 2015 started. "Interest has clearly exceeded our expectations," says Meuer. Initially, the offer was only to be offered in three kindergartens - which spontaneously turned into 15. On average, twelve facilities are added each year. There are currently 35. A further 15 kindergartens are expected to be added to the project this Autumn. A volunteer is assigned to a kindergarten. A maximum of six children look after the volunteers for two hours a week. The fact that they are only in this area in the facility and work with very small groups means that they can focus on the individual children very intensively and also have more leeway than the educators who have to deal with a multitude of tasks. However, it is important: The sponsors are an additional offer and do not replace trained professionals. "The responsibility for the children is always with the educators," said Meuer. Similarly, the language sponsors are not speech therapists - to process speech errors such as stuttering is not their job.
Creativity is welcome
The project is a win for all concerned, first and foremost, of course, for the children. However, effects are also noticeable within the families: in a survey conducted by the project managers with more than 50 parents, it was confirmed that speech magic also has positive effects on households. The children report a lot about the offers and generally become more talkative. The volunteers, on the other hand, appreciate the creative approaches of the project: "You can let off steam as a volunteer," says Meuer. The kindergartens are also set up so that they have many materials in stock to realize ideas. The volunteers would therefore have to raise their own funds.
Information for those interested
Interested persons who want to participate in the project as a language sponsor should be reliable: in a cooperation agreement, they undertake to offer language training for two hours a week in the kindergartens. In their role model function, the language mentors should also speak grammatically correct German. In addition, all prospective language sponsors must attend three training sessions, each lasting five hours. There they get an introduction to the topics language development, multilingualism and cultural sensitization. The first date for the next round is September 11th. The other dates will be determined together. Before the mission really starts, the volunteers also sit in the respective kindergarten. The coordinator takes into consideration the place of residence of the volunteers and looks for kindergartens in the closer living environment of the godparents. The sponsors can also exchange ideas at a regular's table, where often invited experts also speak on relevant topics, such as children's literature.
If you are interested in being a volunteer in the project Sprachzauber, you can contact Constance Meuer at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Volunteer Center Hannover