I had originally intended to do this post and the last post combined, but I realized that instead I had a sweet, inspirational post, and a funny post, and that maybe they would be better separate. So here is the humor!
When I told my kids our new student didn’t speak English, I wanted to capitalize on the fact that many of them new what it was like to learn and speak another language. However, this conversation always goes the same way with kids. For whatever reason, kids want to be known as speaking another language, and always claim to. I get it! Languages are fun, speaking something others don’t understand is neat, doing something others can’t can make you feel special. Most times when this comes up, I let the claims go. But in this case, I wanted to stick to the facts. So what followed was expected, and hilarious.
“Raise your hand if you speak a language other than English at home.” I told them. Every hand in the room went up.
“If the language you are thinking of is Pig Latin, put your hand down.” Lots of hands went down.
“If the language you are thinking of is another made up language that is almost Pig Latin but that you have given a different name to, put your hand down.” A few more down.
“Listen closely guys- this means that your family speaks entire conversations in a different language, and that you understand it and can respond. Not that you know a few words.” Three hands went down.
At this point, quite a few kids still had their hands up, despite the fact that they most definitely did not speak anything other than English. So I addressed it directly.
“What language do you speak at home?” I asked one little guy. “What? Oh. Um, I thought you were asking something else.” Hand down.
“How about you?” To an enthusiastic front row hand waver. “Um, Polish?” She said hesitantly. “I know for a fact your family is not Polish.” She shrugged. “Chinese?” “Nope.” Hand down.
“You?” “Pig Latin.” He responded firmly. “We already went over that.” I told him. “Smig Smatin.” He said immediately. “Nope.” Hand down.
Then I noticed some hands down that should have been up.
I called on one of my girls. “Didn’t you just show me a book in Spanish that you and your mom read together?” I asked. “Yeah, but my Spanish isn’t that good!” She protested. “But you speak it!” I spluttered. “Hand up!”
“And you!” To a front row boy avoiding my eyes. “You told me about when you learned to speak English in kindergarten and only spoke Hindi before! You still speak Hindi!” He shrugged. “I don’t know, you seemed mad!”
I guess the lesson here is, everyone has something that felt new, or scary, or unfamiliar, and they can empathize based on that. And that languages are awesome, and we should all be excited about them, and the opportunity to learn more.
Or that we should all just learn Pig Latin and call it a day!