Does anyone know how old the seven-day week actually is?
Geert van Overloop is a Belgian living in the Czech Republic. He teaches English at Cesky Krumlov Gymnazium. He coordinated The Mystery of the Week, a project whose goal was to publish a multilingual set with the days of the week. The project implied foreign language learning, history and etymology.
Together with his colleagues and pupils, Geert invited the participants to rediscover the names of the days of the week in as many languages as possible. 'The names of the days are some of the most frequently used words in almost any language. Still most people do not realise the meanings of these names go somewhat deeper than the calendar surface and that they usually have an interesting history attached to them' said Geert.
This project was an opportunity to look into the words our ancient language ancestors used. Participating pupils, assisted by their teachers, were encouraged to research, explain, and compare results and facts, working in small teams and having at least one group of pupils or students for each language spoken in Europe. They did the necessary research in their own language and then translated it into a foreign language they were learning at school.
Which was the pedagogical value of this project?
Pupils from schools all over Europe (at least one group per language) found out the origin of the names of days in their own language by doing a bit of linguistic archaeology
Pupils acquired basic translation skills when collecting the names of days in European languages
Pupils learnt some basic etymology and language history during the project activities