Monday, February 25, 2013

Where is it? There is it!

Communication can be difficult when you don't speak the same language. A few years ago at a resort in Mexico, a waiter brought me a warm glass of soda. I asked for "Grande ice" and he returned with a large chunk of ice. I said, "Gracias, grande-grande?" He came back with a larger chunk of ice and another at each request. What I should have said was MUCHO ice, but we didn't speak the same language.

I have three students for whom English is their second language. It is difficult to teach them spatial concepts. I have cards with a basketball in many positions: a basketball in the box, on the table, above/below the shelf, between a pair of tennis shoes, etc.
I held up a card and  asked a little boy, "Where is the basketball?"
He answered, "It's right there!"
"Yes, but WHERE is the basketball, in the box or on the shelf? WHERE?"
He looked at me like I'm crazy. "I told you WHERE. There!"
I placed his hands in his lap, and said, "Now, tell me with your words where the ball is."
"Okay-okay, it's still THERE." He smiled. I rubbed my temples.

I went over the cards and positions with him several times. He acquired some of the meanings. I sent the paper home with him. But I wanted to make it a concrete activity for him for better understanding, so at dismissal when his mom came, I picked up a book and placed it under a chair in the hall and said to him, "See, it is UNDER."
He laughed out loud and said, "No-no-no, that is not a basketball."

I came home and took an aspirin.

Spring break is a few weeks away.

Make sure you are concise when you are conveying a message in your writing.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Yes, working with kids provides a non-stop parade of funny experiences.

You're the teacher and you didn't know that was NOT a basketball? Ha!

Val said...

I'll get right on that, just as soon as I'm done shooting an elephant in my pajamas.

Susan Sundwall said...

It's amazing how un-clear we can be when we're trying sooo hard. Very frustrating. Chocolate helps. =0)

Alice said...

Thanks for the laugh. Reminds me of trying to communicate with a husband. They hear the first part and tune out. . .

Susan said...

Hi Linda....Teaching ESL is a real challenge. Many schools have separate teachers just for that important and daunting task. It's so hard for the little ones to learn a new language.

Even you pointed out how frustrating it was to order a lot of ice in Mexico!

I sympathize with you and with the little kids who don't speak English.

Glad vacation's coming soon! Susan

Connie said...

Oh dear. That gave me a laugh. Communication can be a frustrating thing sometimes. :-)

Bookie said...

So funny along with the frustration... reminds me of a scene with a student years ago...He told me a kid in the hall was "cuzzing him"...cussing, you say...yeah, he cuzzing. After getting my hands on the offending student and getting to the bottom of the story...he was the first boy's COUSIN!

Tammy said...

Great story! And you're right - being clear in writing (without talking down to the reader or over-explaining) is such a hard line for me to walk!

Debora said...

Ahhh spring break...the only thing that stands between teachers and insanity...the oasis in the desert! I volunteered for a couple of years at a preschool for migrant farm workers, all Hispanic. I took the class to the bathroom to wash up before lunch. Turned on the water and told them to use lots of soap. One little thing kept saying 'caliente, caliente'! I didn't know that caliente meant hot! Yep, clear communication is really important!

Unknown said...

and...speak the same language? I think at times my hubby speaks a different language, but he insists it is me.