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World Cup, Old Friends & The Rhineland

Janice Greenberg, Learning Language and Loving It Program Director, muses about her eventful Frankfurt experience...

I just got back from a fantastic trip to Frankfurt, Germany, where I had the pleasure of facilitating a Learning Language and Loving It Workshop to a very passionate and keen group of German early childhood education consultants and SLPs.

While in Frankfurt, I also provided a two hour presentation introducing The Hanen Centre (and specifically, the Learning Language and Loving It Program) to a large group of other interested professionals, including educators, lecturers in educational science and linguistics from the University of Frankfurt and Bochum, directors of Early Learning Centres, educational consultants and government representatives.

It was truly exciting to see such interest and enthusiasm from the Frankfurters (yes, this is really what you call people from Frankfurt!) in the Learning Language and Loving It philosophy and strategies. Germany has been attracting larger numbers of immigrants over the last few years and as a result, is being increasingly challenged by how to best meet the needs of young children for whom German is not the first language. Delivery of the Learning Language and Loving It Program in early years settings is being viewed as an effective way of enriching the language learning environment for the youngest members of their society.

Putting my Hanen mission aside, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Frankfurt. I was met at the airport by Ute Limbarth and Guylène Colpron, two long-standing Learning Language and Loving It Program Leaders who have been carrying the Hanen torch in Germany for the last 12 years. That is how long Ute and Guylène have been advocating for a Learning Language and Loving It workshop in Germany! Needless to say, they, along with the workshop host, Mechthild Dörfler, were thrilled to finally have the workshop happen!

On the day I arrived, there happened to be a huge multicultural festival happening in Frankfurt that included a long parade weaving through the city, singing, dancing and general good times. I jokingly thanked my hosts for arranging such a wonderful celebration in honour of my arrival!

Well, things just went on to get better and better! Ute, Guylène and Mechthild (who let me call her Meggy since she thought her real name might be difficult for me to remember and pronounce! And she was correct in her assumption!) were wonderful hosts as they ushered me around the sites of Frankfurt that included a visit to the Rhineland (birthplace for Riesling wines, for those of you who partake!), shopping for herbal remedies at a monastery dating back to the 11th century that was once the home of the so-called mystic nun, Hildegard Von Bingen, and dinner at a glass-encased restaurant overlooking the growing Riesling grapes!

Meggy and Ute even talked me into foregoing the salads that I had been dutifully ordering for dinner in the interests of healthy living and instead feasting on traditional German fare - frankfurter (this time, I do mean the one you eat!), sauerkraut, potato salad and the locally produced apple wine. I have to admit that it was quite delicious!

Everything about the trip was great but I do think one of the highlights was being there when Germany won their World Cup soccer match against France (not the one that gave them the cup though! Now, that would have been mind-blowing). What fun to see a city filled with joy as flags were waved, horns were blown and restaurants and bars filled with celebrating Frankfurters (this time, I mean the people, not the food!)

For more than 35 years, The Hanen Centre has taken a leading role in the development of programs and resources for parents and professionals to help all preschool children develop the best possible language, social and literacy skills, including those children with or at risk of language delays and those with developmental challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, including Asperger Syndrome.

Click on the links below to learn more about how Hanen can help you help children communicate: