Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost in Translation

Quieres ayudarme? Cuanto huevos quieres? No quiero banarme! Yeah, don't let me fool you, I don't understand a lick of Spanish, let alone able to read it. I once attended a Spanish church service when I was in Mexico and the only thing I was able to recognize was the tune to the hymns we sang. Other than that, it was pure foreign. Now imagine being a three year old who only understands Spanish and gets put into an English speaking preschool, where everything and everyone is nothing but foreign. I felt so bad for our new little student once his parents said their goodbyes and left him wondering what the heck is he doing in this strange classroom, with strange people, talking a strange language. The minute the door closed behind them, he cried, and cried, and cried. I tried to console him, but without success. He sat by the door and continued to cry. Meanwhile the rest of the class danced and sang and carried on, trying to ignore the sobbing child. After circle and snack everyone started to play, they even took pity on our new little fella and moved some toys close to where he was crying, but he was too upset to acknowledge their gesture. We finally called in the schools translator who was able to calm him and he actually started to play. She stayed with him the rest of the afternoon, and even helped put him on the bus and reassured him the bus driver was going to take him home. It was a rough first day for him and I'm sure he was exhausted when he finally arrived at his house.

His second day of school was much better and he didn't cry as much. I carried around a Spanish to English book with me so I could try my hand at speaking his native language, but that just complicated matters because he would answer me in Spanish and I had no idea what he was saying. I think he appreciated my efforts because he stayed close to me the entire day, or maybe he just felt sorry for this poor gringo of a teacher who can't speak and appears to be the one with the language problem. I'm sure he thought I was the one that needed a friend.

His third day of class was even better and he started to mingle with the other students. The next thing I know he is fitting in and playing right along side them.

This is what's so amazing about little children, no matter where they are from, what kind of background they have, or disability, they seem to have this special way of communicating that only a child can understand, which in turn, leaves us adults the ones, lost in translation.

1 comment:

  1. There's so many ways other than language to communicate. I think everyone can understand a smile and recognize a good person. I loved this post. I used to teach art at our elementary and totally loved it. That's where I learned to speak "kiddish."