Bulgarian language is the link that goes from the present back through the centuries and connects us with our roots and our Bulgarian consciousness. That is why Bulgarians in faraway Singapore decided at a meeting in September 2019 to organize a Bulgarian Sunday school for their children. But there are no Bulgarian philologists among the colony of about 400 Bulgarians. That is why the task was given to musician and organizer of music festivals around the world – Martin Karnolski, as the rest of the Bulgarian parents voted for him.
“I have graduated from the Music Academy in Sofia and I have a pedagogical profile. I have always been involved in teaching people, so I have experience in this respect. It gives me the courage to work with the children," Martin says in an interview with Radio Bulgaria.
The school opened with 5 or 6 children in it, but today they are already 15. A big challenge is that they are all at different age and with a different level of knowledge of Bulgarian. Therefore, in addition to textbooks for Bulgarians, Martin Karnolski also uses textbooks in Bulgarian as a second language, which are very useful as they target people who grew up in other countries and Bulgarian is their second language. Children are divided into different age groups and Martin uses a special program that includes more games and songs for the youngest ones who understand but speak little Bulgarian. Martin says he needs to be very inventive in order to make things interesting to the kids. But he is also grateful to the parents, who "are enthusiastically and actively helping."
“This is collective work that aims for our children to learn to write and speak in their mother tongue. They grow up in an English-speaking environment and they even speak English to each other. That is why in class we use only Bulgarian and if there is an unknown word we explain its meaning in Bulgarian,” Martin Karnolski says.
The children are doing well and are already preparing to participate in the traditional Bulgarian concert in Singapore for May 24th and June 1st. Martin says that the Association of Bulgarian Schools Abroad has provided him with extremely valuable assistance. Bulgarian teachers from all over the world, whom he contacts through the Facebook group Bulgarian Schools Abroad have also helped him a lot. Some offer him valuable books or advice. "I think I'm starting to be part of this community of Bulgarian schools abroad without our school being registered yet," Karnolski says. This will be his next step – applying for official Sunday School status.
English: Alexanfer MarkovPhotos: @bsrodnarech and private library
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