Friday, December 17, 2010

The spoken word

I'm beside myself, simple elated. I had no idea when this incredible transformation would occur, but it did......a year later.

We had a shy little Hispanic boy come to us last year who was clearly, lost in translation. He knew no English and spoke very little Spanish. With his gentle disposition he attracted the other children and didn't have any problem playing and interacting.  His problem and what qualified him for our program was his speech and language delays. The entire first year I hardly ever heard his voice. If he spoke it was in a quite whisper with his head hung down. When I say spoke I'm talking about a word here and a word there, never a complete sentence.

A year later and older our quite little boy has emerged into a happy, confident, energetic preschooler.

I sat next to him during circle. Part of our circle time activities include singing and dancing and on this particular day, I could hear him singing the words of a song. Never had I ever heard his voice so clear, I was simply astonished. It didn't stop with one song, he kept it up with each song we sang.  The adults in the room all exchanged glances as we heard his little voice sing out, each with a baffled look on our face.

After the song and dance, well a few songs and some dancing later, we gathered around the snack table. Our Hispanic friend sang the snack poem and participated with the hand gestures. Granted we've been singing these songs for a year but I'm overjoyed that they have finally sunk in and he's understanding the words.

Oranges were part of the menu and this little guy loved the oranges. I took the opportunity to teach him the word 'orange' since he kept pointing at them and wanting more. Then I tried, once again, to speak his native language. Orange in Spanish is la naranja. Yeah, I felt like I had a ball of cotton in my mouth, la na raun ha. Something of that nature.

Me asking the boy: You want more orange?

Child nods his head yes.

 Handing him the fruit I said: Orange, la na rah ah.

Speech Therapist correcting my mutilation of the word: It's la naranja

I turn and look at the little guy and repeat: Orange, la naun rah.

Child smiling shaking his head no at my lame attempt.

Speech Therapist exaggerating the inflection of the word: la na raun ha.

After many tries I finally get it right and proudly say to our Spanish student: la naranja!

Again he smiles flashing his cute dimples, and shakes his head no.

 Insulted: "What? You're a hard one to please," I tell my young friend.

Not wanting to disappoint. Again I try: La naranja.

Child shakes his head no.

Baffled I said it in English: Orange?

Child smiles even bigger and shakes his head yes and repeats: Orange!

I finally got it, he wanted me to say it in English.

After picking my jaw up off the table, I handed him another orange.