Words by: Berrin Guzel

The Whistled language is a version of the language communicated through high-pitch whistles and melodies, commonly used in the village of Kuşköy, which translates as Bird Village. Kuşköy is in the Black Sea region and is located in the northeast of Turkey.

The Black Sea region is mountainous and hilly. Houses are on the hills far from each other. That’s why people communicate by whistling. Today, there are about 10,000 people in the region that speak it. Since 1997, Kuşköy has held the Bird Language Festival to promote the language’s use. UNESCO included the bird language in its 2017 list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

A photo of two women demonstrating the whistled language, a mountainous background behind them

Beside Kuşköy, dozens of whistled languages are found across the world, primarily in areas where steep terrain or dense forests make communication difficult over distances, such as the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, the highlands of northern Laos or The Amazon basin in Brazil. Greece, Mexico, and Mozambique.

For her verbal presentation, Nadege talked through two Catholic festivals, Chandeleur and Mardi Gras, which both take place in February and are observed in France.

Nadege is French and has been in the UK for three years. She has been a regular attendee at our EAL zoom sessions since November 2020, prior to this she hadn’t joined any English classes.

View Nadege’s presentation by clicking the download button below.

Today we share a presentation about one of Japan’s festivals, Setsubun. The presentation was created and delivered by two of our learners, Tomomi and Berrin who received a very enthusiastic response from our EAL Zoom group.

The final version of the presentation was achieved partly through group editing via the Zoom chatbox, and also through individual verbal contributions, just one of the ways we have adapted to virtual EAL learning.

Tomomi’s first language is Japanese and Berrin’s is Turkish so it is wonderful to see friendships blossoming from our activities.

Click the ‘Download’ button below to view the presentation, we hope you enjoy learning about the Setsubun Festival.

Over the past few months, our learners have been sharing presentations on topics of their choice. Some have shared traditions from their cultures while others have offered helpful tips based on what they do for work.

Today’s presentation was created by Tonomi who lived in the UK for three years and attended our EAL groups until recently returning to Japan. A silver lining of shifting to Zoom lessons following the pandemic means she continues to be a most active member of our charity.

We hope you enjoy learning about Japanese New Year traditions, as told by Tonomi.

Last September, we were thrilled to resume some of our wellbeing activities and EAL lessons after months of restrictions. Like most, we had the added task of keeping safe and socially distanced. This also meant finding alternatives to classroom teaching.

Learning EAL with Zoom classes

Although we hope to return to full-time face-to-face learning one day soon, Zoom has helped us to continue offering EAL lessons and keep our students in touch, despite being physically apart.

Over the coming months, we will be introducing you to more of our students learning EAL through our activities and classes. Today we start with Berrin Güzel, a current student whose home language is Turkish.

Berrin shares her thoughts on EAL learning through online classes:

I prefer to attend face-to-face classes. Because I can write, listen and speak at the same time.

I love meeting new people and making new friends. Building a good face-to-face connection with new people is easy.

For me, the advantage of the online lesson is that I save extra time as I don’t waste my time on the road.

A photo of Berrin: a current EAL student whose first language is Turkish.

Although our celebrations may be different this year, Richmond EAL Friendship Group would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas.

Our area is currently under Tier 4 restrictions but we look forward to continuing to run our Covid-secure timetable in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Richmond EAL Friendship Group