YLYB #34: Habla Español

I teach in Houston, Texas and I have parents of some students whose English skills are not always very good.  I am sympathetic.  I am the great-grandson of non-English speaking immigrants myself.  I remember my great grandmother’s French (Quebec) accent was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

I often had difficulty understanding her.  This was after she had lived in the US for more than 50 years and had learned to read and speak English.  It was still difficult sometimes.

As a teacher, it can be difficult to communicate with a parent when you don’t speak the same language.  But, I always try to remind myself that America is and always was a country of immigrants.  So, I use my best broken Spanish to communicate with parents who don’t speak English.  Just yesterday, I was calling a parent about her child’s grade.  She started off by saying that she didn’t speak English – so I used my limited skills en Español.   I’m glad that I did, because after doing my best to attempt Spanish, she began to use her limited skills in English.  We were able to communicate and today she came up to the school where she could get a full time translator.

It really made me feel good to be able to help this parent understand what her child needed.  I was also excited that a decent sized number of students showed up for after school tutorials today.  I only wish they wouldn’t wait until nearly the end of the grading period to try to make up their work.