South-West London Infants Experience Speak Cornish Week!

As an ‘Exile’ living in the South-East of England and teaching in a Primary School part-time, it’s always good, when the opportunity arises to share some information with the children about Cornwall and its unique heritage and culture.

One such opportunity came about earlier this year, when I arranged for my school to become linked to Penryn Primary Academy – a scheme which is in its embryonic stages at present – but children from the two schools have already held several conference call telephone conversations with each other about life in SW London and Penryn, before we look to establish some curriculum links next year.

Speak Cornish Week

As we are presently in ‘Speak Cornish Week’, I wanted to see where we could fit a small event into one of my lessons this week in order to get our children writing and speaking some very basic Cornish. At present, Year One’s Geography topic is the United Kingdom and, after spending a week learning about London, the next scheduled two lessons for this class of five and six-year-olds was to look at a part of the UK which is ‘different to London’ – and the second of these lessons would, conveniently fall in the middle of ‘Speak Cornish Week’!

In the first lesson, we began in London, looking at Paddington Station where the children had to describe the sounds/sights they imagined might be in that picture. Then, thanks to a video clip of the train journey from London to Penzance (compressed into five minutes!), the class were able to describe how their view “out of the train window” changed over the course of the journey. We ended the lesson by looking at a map on the UK and the children had to colour in where London and Cornwall were situated in different colours (see photo below) – which is no mean feat when you are five or six years-old!



Above: The Year One children identify where London and Cornwall are on a map.


Yesterday afternoon saw the second lesson when I taught the children about some of the differences between Cornwall and London – the biggest of which, of course happens to be the presence of a different language! We looked at nine simple greetings or words with the children repeating the words back to me in Cornish. They then returned to their tables to take part in a Cornish Language Quiz where they had to find the right word in Cornish to answer the question and write it in their books (see photos below). The word ‘gras’ was chosen for “thanks” as opposed to the more common “Meur ras” simply as it was an easier word for children of such a young age who had never been exposed to the language before to use. You may also query the presence of a seemingly random Zebra in the picture! All of the classes in my primary school are named after animals, and our Year Ones are Zebra Class, so they wanted to know what the word ‘Zebra’ would be in Cornish!




Above: Examples of some of the written Cornish from the Year One children in SW London (5 and 6 year-olds).


Whilst next week’s lesson will see me move on to another part of the UK with the Year One children (we’re looking at Wales next!), I’ll try to see what they can remember next week and persuade them to use words like “Dydh da!” when I come into their class!!



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