The Multilingual and Intercultural Puppet

The Multilingual and Intercultural Puppet

An Innovative Approach to Learning Foreign and Second Langauges

Paula G. Eleta, Mariano Dolci


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As the world becomes increasingly more interconnected and globalized, increasingly more families are seeking early (0-6 years) foreign and second language education, prompting educators and teachers to seek out age-appropriate tools which offer an innovative approach to early language learning (ELL).
The Multilingual and Intercultural Puppet tries to answer two questions: How can we introduce children to foreign languages at an early age in a natural and also naturally playful way? And with which approach? This book presents a documented reflection that is rooted in concrete experiences which the authors have accumulated over the past twenty years of field-work, providing readers with many innovative yet practical and operational examples of how puppets have been used to facilitate ELL.
Puppets, easily integrated into chilren’s natural play environment, represent a pedagogical tool par excellence for the teaching-learning of foreign languages.  Using puppets, educators can create stimulating and enriching learning contexts, engaging children and moving them towards educational learning objectives, very naturally and through active and interactive play. Moreover, puppets, being puppets, can speak various languages, experience various life-events, and share these with young learners, be they homogeneous, heterogeneous, international, transcultural and/or intercultural groups.  Indeed, “the language of puppets” is naturally multilingual and intercultural.


Paula G. Eleta:
Mariano Dolci was born in Belgrade (YU) in 1937.  After teaching "Mathematics and Scientific Observations" in secondary school for four years, in the early 1960s, he joined the "Experimental Puppet Theater of Otello Sarzi" and has, since then, been using puppets not only for theatre per se, but also puppets for educational and social-mediational activities.
In 1970 he was hired by the Municipality of Reggio Emilia to direct the "Animation Laboratory" (now "Gianni Rodari") for schools and daycare centres throughout the city.  Until he retired in 2002, Mariano collaborated closely with Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Pedagogical Team to experiment with and optimize the pedagogic and didactic potential of puppets.
In 1973 he was invited to the "San Lazzaro" Psychiatric Hospital in Reggio Emilia to verify, under medical supervision, the therapeutic efficacy of puppet-construction and animation. Later he continued the activities in other care settings.
Mariano has collaborated with the children's museum ("Murfi") of "Palazzo Vecchio" in Florence and has been Adjuct Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Urbino, teaching courses on "The use of animation-theatre in education and in social mediation". He currently collaborates with Professor Vito Minoia at the University of Urbino and The Aenigma University Theater.
He has periodically managed and still manages refresher courses on non-spectator uses of the animated theatre.
He has been invited to Italy and abroad to hold conferences, seminars and speeches (France, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, United States, Belgium, Korea, Burkina Canada???) and is the author of numerous publications translated into various languages.
Paula Eleta was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has lived in Italy since 1990. She graduated in Sociology from the University of Buenos Aires, Facultad de Sociología and, in 1995 she obtained a PhD in Sociol|||