The evenings are full of the "Spirit of English" in the forms of songs, dances and artistic presentations.
Another aspect that has always been important to us is to encourage an open exchange with leading authorities in foreign language teaching outside of Waldorf circles. We are delighted this year to have Prof. Dr. Manfred Schewe from the University of Cork, Ireland, one of the world's leading authorities on using drama and drama techniques in foreign language teaching, joining us for our conference. Manfred's expertise also fits perfectly to our conference theme.
The theme of this year’s conference will be "The Spirit of Language in Body, Soul and Spirit"
One of the core principles underlying Waldorf Education is a recognition of the threefold nature of a human being existing simultaneously in the physical, soul and spiritual realms. When we examine a child's natural acquisition of her mother tongue/s, it becomes evident that this process occurs in and simultaneously forms the child’s body, soul and spirit. In considering all that a child learns in the first three years of life – standing, walking, language and thinking – Rudolf Steiner speaks of the confluence of the wisdom of higher spiritual forces with the unconscious will-forces of the child: “Working out of a wisdom that doesn’t exist within him, a child works on himself. This wisdom is more powerful and more encompassing than all later, conscious wisdom” It is from this understanding that we are called upon to address the developing child and youth and to support and enable them to realize their own individual possibilities in life.
An approach to foreign language teaching based on this view of the human being and language calls for corresponding goals and methods. Although these will be tied to the age of the pupils, they will at all stages be deeply rooted in the belief that learning a foreign language can be deeply transformative, leading to a richer, more encompassing and differentiated understanding of the world and of oneself. As Raimon Panikkar writes, “Language is the human way of being in the world, and the plurality of languages shows plainly that there is more than one way to be human." How can such goals be integrated into the daily practice of teaching English in Waldorf Schools?