Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A is for Amigo, F is for Friend

A little boy joined my class today. He and his family have just arrived from the Dominican Republic.
He speaks no English. I can't even begin to imagine how this must feel. 
New surroundings, new people, and on top of it all, a new language. How must that feel, not understanding?
I know he'll learn quickly as he's immersed in a language that comes so naturally to us, but is so difficult for others to learn. He has a big advantage  being in kindergarten where the curriculum is so language rich. 
As I struggled to communicate with him, I found myself wishing I had paid better attention during those 6 years of Spanish I took. 
There are words I remember, but with no one to practice with, any conversational Spanish I may have had is now gone.
I was amazed however, at the vocabulary I did manage to pull out of my head when I needed to. 

"Escriba su nombre aquí por favor." "Write your name here please.
"Es hora para el almuerzo." "It's time for lunch."
"Siéntese aqui por favor." "Sit here please."

Do this, do that, go here, go there. I felt for him.

I had the luxury today of being able to spend a little one on one time with him because my student teacher has taken over for the week. We sat together and played a simple card game. I named the pictures in English, he named them in Spanish. He smiled when I repeated what he said, maybe feeling good that he had taught ME something.

My favorite moment of the day came right after he arrived. I think that the other kids found him interesting. Mostly because he was a new arrival to a pretty well established bunch of kiddos and of course because he didn't speak their language.
One little girl decided to be his friend. She told me she'd stick by him and help him out. 
"I can help him Mrs. Collins because I can speak Spanish."
"Really Tinkerbell, I didn't know that about you."
"Yep, amigo, that means friend."

"Well Tinkerbell, I think it's safe to say the job is yours."

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