Pin It
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

How Children Play Who Don’t Speak the Same Language

By
How children play who don't speak the same language (c)Mudhut Mama

Close to our home, there is a small community comprised of project employees, wildlife scouts and their families. It’s just outside the reserve’s fence and if it weren’t for the danger of elephant and buffalo, we could walk to it. Since we can’t walk and I don’t have a car, it may as well be miles away. Today, my husband had to go into the workshop right next to the community and we decided to tag along. It turned out to be even more fun than we anticipated. We found a group of kids hanging out on the road near the workshop and discovered what happens when you put a couple of kids who speak very little Chichewa into a group of kids that speak about the same amount of English.



They introduce themselves and stare at each other for about thirty seconds while it sinks in that they haven’t been understood.



They touch each other’s hair.



They play with whatever is available.



They make swings out of tree limbs.



They draw in the soil with sticks.



They share shoes.



They share balls (this one was homemade out of old plastic shopping bags).



They share wild fruits and play with the remains.



They enjoy each other’s company even if they don’t understand each other’s words. It was really beautiful to watch how easily this group of children accepted my girls and how unselfconsciously my little ones approached the situation. There seemed to be no thought that they may not be welcomed to play. Long may it last!

© 2012, Jody Tilbury. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

Language acquisition in three-and-a-half year old, bilingual twins.

How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000

It's cheaper than you think to make that move abroad you always dreamed about

Breastfeeding Around the World

In photos and figures

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jody is a stay-at-home mom, raising two girls in a wildlife reserve in Malawi. Pre-motherhood she worked with international and environmental education. Jody is homeschooling her daughters and enjoys sharing her love of other cultures, nature, and conservation with them. She writes about their adventures at Mud Hut Mama.

Leave us a comment!

7 Comments
  1. CommentsKids Don’t Always Need Words Republished at InCultureParent | Mud Hut Mama   |  Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 12:45 pm

    […] Don’t Always Need Words” about a spontaneous play date has been republished as “How Kids Play who Don’t Speak the Same Language” at InCultureParent magazine. I’ve recently been introduced to this lovely magazine […]

  2. CommentsJustine   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I love this. It reminds me of things I’ve observed at the beach … how easy it is for children to play together, even without an introduction. This always amazes me, and yet, it’s also unsurprising. It’s only as we grow older that we accumulate all of the baggage that gets in the way of communication.

  3. CommentsKathy   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2012 at 10:39 pm

    What a beautiful and inspiring story Jody! I am typing this way past my bedtime and am feeling a bit emotional as it is, but your words and photos brought me to tears. Life is just so much simpler when we are young like this. I love that your children and the other children didn’t need to be able to communicate with their words to have so much fun together. That’s just awesome!

  4. CommentsMeera Sriram   |  Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 1:40 pm

    The pictures speak a thousand words! You and your family have a beautiful life, Jody! Thanks for sharing!

  5. CommentsThe ABCs of Raising a World Citizen: K - O | All Done Monkey   |  Wednesday, 09 January 2013 at 6:02 am

    […] by introducing them to other children.  As this post from Mud Hut Mama illustrates so beautifully, children are naturally drawn to each other, despite language and cultural barriers.  And here are some wonderful ideas from Teach Preschool […]

  6. CommentsPreschool Homeschool Lesson Plans: Week 2, Age 3 - Mud Hut Mama   |  Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 12:12 pm

    […] but they also had a fun, and unexpected, time with a group of kids that I wrote about in How Children Play Who Don’t Speak the Same Language at […]

  7. CommentsWeek 2 – Change of plans and « Digital generation  research | communikidblog «   |  Monday, 04 January 2016 at 4:29 pm

    […] also found this report depicting how children who do not speak the same language can still interact with each other. Once […]









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More Globetrotting