9th June 2017

Magis Exchange Promotes Language Learning and Cultural Diversity

Magis Exchange Promotes Language Learning and Cultural Diversity

Delight in Learning

Magis Exchange Promotes Language Learning and Cultural Diversity

Appearing via video link, the pupils from Istituto Comprensivo Albavilla J.F. Kennedy wave enthusiastically at their peers in the St Aloysius’ College Magis Exchange Room. The children of P7 take it in turns to walk up to the screen, reading messages in both Italian and English to their counterparts many miles away in sunny Lake Como, Italy. Before the classes sign off, there’s even time for an international singalong. In honour of P7s recent performance of the musical ‘We Will Rock You’, the class in Lake Como start a rousing chorus of ‘We Are The Champions’; P7 quickly join in.

This meeting is one of many in a series of virtual exchanges organised by the Junior School Modern Languages department, as part of the broader Magis Digital Exchange Programme. Since the start of the academic year, Mrs Gravina has set up two ‘virtual exchanges’ for children in P6 and P7. As well as the class in Lake Como, pupils have also had the opportunity to meet the children at Istituto Leone XIII, a Jesuit school in Milan.

The innovative learning method uses new digital technologies to allow children to have a dialogue with native speakers, and puts learning in a genuine and fun context: “I have learned that is good to learn another language”, wrote one P7 pupil, “Italian is fun, especially when interacting with others”, wrote another.

The exchange programme also allows P6 and P7 to experience another culture first hand, and to learn that people from all over the world have a lot in common. In response to the question: “What have you learned from this experience?” our P7 pupils responded: “I have learned that children in Italy are very similar to us”; “I have learned how to interact with other people from other countries”.

Stefania Gulfo, a teacher at the school in Lake Como, praised the rich cultural learning that the programme encourages: “‘We all appreciate the challenging exchange project both for its objectives regarding the languages and for the human diversity that it promotes”.

Mrs Gravina, speaking about the language exchange with Istituto Leone XIII in Milan, said: “It has been an incredible and rewarding experience working with children who have had the opportunity to learn a foreign language in a unique way. The passion and commitment our children have shown to learn more about Italian culture and communicate with their peers in Milan has been inspirational.  I loved to see the joy and excitement in their eyes when they were talking for the first time to their Italian friends. I am very proud of them and we hope to continue this wonderful learning journey in the future”.

Andrew Bises, International coordinator in Milan, said: "Over in Milan the twinning has been a great adventure for our students who have found in this exchange the reason to learn English and a newfound respect for the history of their city. We are all grateful for this opportunity and your help in caring for them and inspiring them to go above and beyond what I was expecting. On a personal note I was touched by the spontaneous singing by our students joining in the chorus of your song. It is one of those wonderful moments that remind me of one of the joys of working with children”.

Speaking to Mrs Craig and Mrs Gravina, both expressed the intention of expanding the programme to include a Spanish exchange programme. We certainly look forward to seeing how this important project develops in the new academic year.