Not to brag, but I still remember how to say cat and pants from high school Spanish. Impressive, right? Needless to say, my preparation for being a public school teacher was woefully short in language dexterity.
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Fast forward 15 years into my educational career and I enroll my oldest son in a Spanish immersion school. I love that my blue-eyed, blond hair boy can launch into a real conversation with people who I cannot communicate with on my own.
But I realize now that I missed an opportunity to increase my influence over the children and families who were in my classroom.
The more I observe public education from the closeness of the system level, but a distance from my own classroom, the more I realize it was less content and more the relationships which was important to developing children. I know there were times I put content over relationships. I regret that. My boys will stay in a place where relationships, current and future, are valued.
In the immersion school both of my sons go to they learn Spanish from native speakers. They learn about the cultures of our entire hemisphere and plan to travel to all these places I would have been scared to travel. That is why I send them there, not to translate for me when I meet someone from outside my social sphere, but to avoid limiting their sphere.
If you do not have access to an immersion school, consider a learning program like Rosetta Stone. If you use a language program like this also consider how to introduce cultural events. Festivals and holidays celebrating different cultures are worthwhile and an excellent way to practice live language interaction. Make sure that your children also talk with peers who speak that language, slang is an element never found in formal education.
Let me know if you have tried a program like Rosetta Stone, I would value your opinion!
Until then “gato” and “los pantalones.”