Previous

Workshops and City Final Show

Next

Kids Teach Kids

Communication

Almost everything that we want to say in spoken language we can express in a different way.

In Brave Kids Project using spoken language is only a small part of communication. Our gestures, tone of voice, mimicry, and context of a situation often say more than words. We are modelling alternative ways of communication for culturally diverse group of people, showing them how they can communicate and work together without words.

In our Model of work we use the artistic elements that children bring to the project in their initial group performances as the platform to allow them to communicate with one another and work together.

We are trying to manage the group not by forcing, imposing or explaining but rather by acting, showing, giving examples. It is worth remembering that during Brave Kids we deal with big, socially and culturally diverse groups. That's why games and exercises are our basic tool of managing the groups, their focus, and energy. Through games we also offer participants tools for non-verbal communication, making space for efficient work in creative, pleasant atmosphere.

Respect and empathy in communication is our main approach.

How do we talk without a common language?

For work and communication we can use artistic elements like:

  • Movement — dance, theatrical movement, gestures, mimicry, elements of rituals, circus, acrobatics, puppetry, etc.
  • Drawings — pictures,
  • Music — singing, playing instruments etc.
  • Props — puppets, instruments, costumes.
  • Words — spoken words (text), counting, words in songs etc.
  • Mimics — making a funny face always works.
  • Sounds — laughter, whistling, clapping etc.

Translation by Group Leaders or other kids

For more complicated situations, things we cannot easily show, or things we must be sure that everybody understands (creating contract, explaining safety rules, explaining general situation, crisis situations, etc.) we ask group leaders to translate.

Sometimes the kids also speak more than one language. Asking them for help in translation is an emancipatory practice, so we take time to find out what other languages kids speak.

Quotes

  • (…) few years ago there were these two boys, 8 years old or so, one was from the Caucasus and the other, I’m not sure exactly, from some African country. Anyway, they became great friends: they held hands during breaks, would go for walks together. The first one was talking in his own language, and the other in his own, and it was taking place, I mean their conversations, every day. They would tell each other everything, although both spoke totally different languages and seemingly did not understand each other at all. Yet, they did understand it all. It was beautiful.

    Jacek
  • We had these young Buryats girls who were extraordinarily mature and sensitive. I think that was the first time in my life that I experienced such genuine respect towards other culture, combined with carefulness. It was not about looking at something with respect, it was about someone giving me their cultural resource to work with, a material that turns out to be also of religious importance for them, so I had to tread carefully in blending these cultural elements. I could not do it only on account ‘it looks cool, or works together well’, but I had to have a conversation. I remember it took place. There were some girls from Burundi and these Buryats girls. Both had the ceremony of handing over and pouring milk. In both cases it is a strongly religiously and culturally involved ritual. I remember we talked together if they agree at all to combine it and give us a chance to describe it; well both were not overly emotional at all, so it was hard to tell, but well they agreed and I think it was important experience for me too.

    Mary
  • The first thing that occurred to me was indeed empathy, as well being over creating. Over the creation of some tangible things. It’s like we take something from ourselves and from what is between us, and we thrive on it, we listen and enter what we have in front of us, these relations, the way we can understand each other. For me the narrative is: we can meet, have fun, and then we want to show it. To me this show reveals the dynamics of becoming acquainted, getting to know each other, not wanting something what we find additionally beneficial

    Ilona

Examples

Game: ‘name and action’ — in a circle;

  • one person steps in the middle of a circle, says her/his name and makes some short simple action (gesture, step, sound etc.),
  • everybody, together repeat the name and the action,
  • person in the middle choose another person from the circle and they change.

A child from Romania and a child from Uganda may not know how to engage with one another in the beginning (what do they have in common in their lives? what is different for each of them?). But when they are given a task that involves one teaching the other something concrete like a song or a dance, they begin to know and work together in a beautiful way. And their working relationship can be the foundation for a new friendship.

Ilona’s Example: One time, together with Mary we decided to run the whole day of workshop without using any language. Instead, we were using body language, gestures, drawings. After this day everyone was on the same level, because no one could easily understand by language. Other kids who spoke English or Polish realised that it may not be so easy for others. The Brazilian group started to feel more confident. They began to take over more of the leadership.

Mefo’s Example: Sometimes children pretend they don’t understand anything because then they do not have to take responsibility for what you say. They do like that when they are ashamed or afraid to do something in front of the rest of the children and that they will not succeed. After a few days it turns out that they do understand, but you need patience in the beginning.

Movies

Tips

Speaking with individual kids or smaller groups

In our practice we find time to communicate with each group. Usually there is always somebody in the group that may understand our language on some basic level. We make an effort to learn few basic words from language of the group. Then we develop our common 'dictionary' of key words and gestures.

What is more:

  • try to learn few basic  words from the language of each group, like ‘hello’, ‘good morning’. ‘thank you’, ‘how are you’,

  • don't worry — kids understand much more than you suspect,

  • still — always check if you have been understood — check if after giving the instruction the participants accomplish it. Ask for an answer after giving the instruction (or other statement) for example you may ask with gesture — key word pair: [“ok?” — thumb up].

  • Remember: sometimes a big part of the group understands your language. This makes it easier for you but remember about those who don’t understand! Don't leave them behind. Check if there is a response to your action.

  • The situation where English is becoming a common language in the room is not a good one, as some of the kids might feel completely excluded if they don’t speak it. We encourage the kids to keep on using their native vocabulary and share it. This is based on a simple value that all the cultures are equal.

Showing interest

Show interest in their skills and ask them to teach you. Try to ask what is the name of what they are doing. Be somehow like a clown. Try to learn from those kids you can’t communicate with and show them that the dance they do is a high level technique, very difficult to learn. Then fall or pretend you can’t really do it. After a while, show them a simpler version of the step and then finally show them that you learned it. In this way and without words you can connect with those kids and as well show them how to teach a complicated step. But you need to be very exaggerate in every single thing you do, so it is fun and understandable that you are trying.

Using video material

Show a video from the group performance if you want to explain kids which part you would like them to teach everyone, or what to change, if it is needed

It’s ok to make mistakes

If you do something wrong then apologize and model this behavior so that they know how to behave among themselves. (Mefo)

Group leaders

Group Leader is an adult who came with a group of children and who runs artistic or social work with them on a daly basis. During the project they do not participate in workshops with children. We can make an arrangement with Group Leaders that they will come everyday before the workshop to translate the plan for the day’s work. Group Leaders are often not far away during the Artistic Workshops and can be called on to translate as well in emergency situations.

Ask yourself...

  1. What should be my approach in order to attend project hardly based on verbal communication? Do I need some extra skills?
  2. Is respect and empathic communication important for me? How do I stick to this in my everyday life?

Contact us

Address

ul. Purkyniego 1
50-155 Wrocław, Poland
NIP 899-23-31-660
KRS 000108979

I accept GPDR conditions. Read more