Our first week of school has been on the difficult side but we survived! I have 22 kids in my class- none of whom speak even a little English. I was under the impression that because some of them had gone to our school for preschool that they would understand English even if they can’t speak it… Wrong! I finally went and talked to the Preschool teacher to find out if the kids were just pretending to not understand me. She is a Honduran teacher but speaks English. She said she taught them vocabulary words such as colors and shapes in English but spoke primary Spanish in her class. So much for being a bilingual class. After the first day I decided to give directions in English followed by directions in Spanish. I will slowly stop speaking Spanish all together but for now I need them to learn my rules and what I expect. Having 22 kid is hard enough but to not be able to talk to them is difficult. They are, as a whole, very well-behaved kids so I am lucky in that respect.
Tyler had a great week. He likes his teacher though he said he didn’t learn anything. Ha! He was a little frustrated one day because the kids keep talking to him in Spanish and of course Tyler is all about rules being followed so he does not understand why they speak Spanish when the rule is “only English.” Most of the kids in his class do speak a little English, especially those who have been in school here for several years. Overall though, he has been great and has started saying a few things in Spanish and has made a couple friends. I also overheard my principle (who only speaks Spanish) trying to talk to Tyler. Tyler response was “No hablo Espanol” or “I don’t speak Spanish.” I don’t know where he learned it but it made me laugh.
Emma had the hardest week. Aside from hating her uniform and “ugly” black shoes, she had a couple hard incidents. The second day of school Emma’s teacher called me from my class. Emma was sobbing hysterically. Few times have I ever seen her truly upset like that. Apparently, they had their first Spanish class so Emma’s homeroom teacher teaches a different class and a Honduran teacher comes to teach Spanish. She is a very nice lady but does not speak or understand English. After 45 minutes of sitting in a class with the teacher lecturing and giving instruction in Spanish and 31 other kids who do not speak ANY English, Emma freaked out. She did calm down eventually but it equally freaked the Spanish teacher out. She came to my room right after school for a conference and then about an
hour later the principle came in for a conference. Emma and Tyler are the first North Americans (or English speaking kids) to come to the school and the administration is not sure what to do with them. In the end what we decided was for them to be pulled out throughout the week by the Spanish teacher so they can get to know her in a less intimidating environment and then they will both be tutored two times a week. Four of their classes are in Spanish, so it is important for them to learn it to be able to succeed in class and to make friends. The next day of school, Emma got her feeling hurt because some girls in her class laughed at her hair and freckles. She probably would never had know what they said except that we already taught her the word for freckles so she knew exactly what they were laughing at. One the upside, she has learned a ton of Spanish already. I was taking a nap yesterday after school and woke up to Emma making tortillas with Maritza. Apparently Emma had told Maritza that she wanted tortillas to eat so they were cooking. Compare that to the first time I left Emma alone with Maritza and came home to Emma locked in the bathroom because “she was not ready to be left with someone she can’t talk to.” That was two weeks ago. Although she has come a long way in a short time, please pray for her in the coming weeks. None of Emma’s classmates speak English although some do understand it, according to her teacher. She is probably going to learn Spanish very quickly because of that but it will be a frustrating time for her as well. Please also pray that our kids will come out better after this experience, and that Shannon and I will have wisdom in what to say when the kids are upset.