Noticia | Educación 16.10.2012

Learning language in a playful environment – with KIKUS in South Africa

For over a year now, the idea of teaching language to children using the visual and playful techniques of the KIKUS method is also taking hold in South Africa: In cooperation with the non-profit Center for Multilingualism in Early Childhood (zkm), the Siemens Stiftung is helping children in the Cape Town region to learn English – the language of education in South Africa. The latest courses for training educational experts in the use of KIKUS were carried out in August and September. Dr. Edgardis Garlin, who developed the method and is also chairperson of zkm, was present in South Africa and presented the new English version of the "KIKUS digital" software.

The training courses in South Africa proved to be extremely popular: Participants at the KIKUS basic and advanced seminars at the end of August included teachers from the DISA Primary School, the Valley Pre-School, the German Kindergarten St. Martini, the Capricorn Primary School, the Angel Starfish Educare Centre and the Kronendal Primary School. Those attending the courses had the opportunity to get to know KIKUS or intensify their knowledge, and were also able to swap experiences with colleagues. Petra Schüler and Christina van der Riet, who both work for KIKUS, took care of the local organization of the courses. Kronendal Primary School in Hout Bay near Cape Town, which has established an "Outreach Programme" for neighboring schools, has also become the coordination point for KIKUS activities.

Because of the linguistic diversity in South Africa, it is extremely important that children become competent in English, the language of schooling, at an early age. As Dr. Edgardis Garlin explained: "A vital aspect is that the various languages of the children are given equal respect, so also promoting cultural exchange". "Involvement of the first language is a central element of the KIKUS method and plays an especially important role in South Africa."

The participants in the advanced course also learned about the new English version of KIKUS digital. This language learning software helps teachers use KIKUS in large classroom groups, using modern aids such as beamers and whiteboards. "We received a large amount of positive feedback from the course groups, especially about the new English version of KIKUS digital", said Ursula Gentili, project manager for language education at the Siemens Stiftung. "This has made us even more determined to continue our cooperation in South Africa." In 2013, the Siemens Stiftung will be providing the necessary financial support to enable eleven of the participants at the advanced KIKUS course to obtain official certification.