Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Habla Espanol?

I wish I made more money. Then I 'd be able to afford a top-notch, highly intensive course in Spanish. In a district in which over 50% of our students speak Spanish, we teachers should be given professional development that teaches us academic and conversational Spanish.
My Spanish speaking skills used to be much better, thanks to Senora Mosely and the dozens of Spanish speaking line-cooks from my restaurant days. Today, I can carry a very basic conversation, maybe kindergarten level or less. Proficiency would have made a difference today in a parent-teacher conference.
I've made it my mission from now on to not be afraid to attempt communicating with our Spanish speaking student. If our many bilingual students who feel insecure about their English proficiency (often hiding behind the language barrier), observe me trying, and often failing, to communicate with them, perhaps they will begin to feel more confident that we don't judge them because of their inability to speak English perfectly.
A group of ELL students have recently decided I'm acceptable to talk with. This group, who are in my study hall, would often ignore me or yell at me in Spanish if I tried to get them to sit down or quiet down. But once I started communicating in Spanish, they've begun to ask me questions and even say hello in the hallway.


At 5:56 AM , Blogger Jude said...

This summer, watch Telemundo or Univision with closed captioning on. Pick a telenovela (they're all intriguing and have finite story lines, so you're not stucking watching them forever) because they have a lot of dialogue. Don't worry about studying, just soak it in. I speak Spanish, but I use this technique to retrain my brain before every parent-teacher conference. If you did this every day for an hour (maybe alternating with a happy news program), you'd pick up an enormous amount of Spanish over the summer. It's like a free immersion program.

At 1:34 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe Jude's idea will sound good to you, seems interesting.
WPS used to offer a beginning Spanish program for volunteer staff on their own time maybe once a week. It was conversational Spanish of some sort. The offering has come an gone a few times over the last 30 years or so. I had found that asking how to say a phrase and then having students help me use it has served me well. Finally I was able enough to teach low level math classes to young students who did not speak much English.
As you have experienced, these students find a staff member's struggle with the new language both amusing and endearing. They also found more courage to use English in front of me as well.

Good luck to you.

At 1:34 AM , Blogger evaberlinerin said...

I'm in Germany and to learn German, I've found a German who wants to learn English. Then we meet every week to speak one hour in German and one in English! I'really great because I can really try to have a conversation with someone. Moreover when you are in front of the person you are obliged to talk... Really useful for me as I am very shy...

Eva from Hauptstadtreisen


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