With all the emotions that go along with starting kindergarten, the whole dual language aspect has kind of been pushed to the back of my mind. But since the first few days went well I’ve been able to take a breath and evaluate where we are.
Violet recently asked me, nervously, how she’s going to understand her teacher when she’s speaking Spanish. I explained that her teacher is going to make sure she understands by using a few techniques. Then we practiced giving commands (in my very limited Spanish) using sign-language and over-exaggeration. ”¡Necesito un baño! ¡Por favor! ¿Dónde esta el baño?” She got the meaning. Nothing like a little potty humor to ease anxiety.
I also gave her a little cognate lesson:
“What do you think “cho-co-lah-tay” means?” I said, pretending to eat and making yummy sounds.
“Well, there are a whole bunch of words like that in Spanish that sound almost the same as the English words. Those will help you understand the rest of the sentence.” I also explained that learning Spanish was going to take some time and practice, like anything else. But the “time and practice” idea has never been a big hit around here.
The teachers spoke English and Spanish this first week, just while the kids are getting used to their environment. I’m okay with that. After all, they are in a whole new world. So next week they’ll really dig in to the 50-50 model. That is: half their subjects will be in English and half in Spanish.
The class is supposed to be 1/2 English speakers and 1/2 Spanish speakers. I think the ratio in this particular classroom is closer to 60/40, but that’s still doable. However, Violet said that, at her Table, the other 3 kids speak only English to her. So, as I’m beginning to suspect, many of the Spanish speaking kids in the room are bilingual. This means, at least for now, that most of the play will be in English. Eventually this will even out. As the kids get more comfortable and familiar with the languages, it will show in their play. And play is when we really learn, right?
Bueno. Ahora soy necesito estudiar español.