Feliz febrero! Happy February!
My brain is bursting with ideas to share with you. For one, I wanted to share this brief article with you, which tells of Bill Gates’ recent confession of what he regrets. Surprisingly, of all the things this man has accomplished in his life and career, the thing he most regrets is never learning another language! In my last lesson with the 5th graders 2-3 weeks ago, I tried to impart the feeling that learning a 2nd language is one of the best things you can do for your future self. Having grown up in a monolingual household myself (English, just like the majority of my students!), I can tell the difference in the way my brain worked before becoming truly competent in Spanish and after. Now, I am a MUCH better problem solver than I ever was before, and my brain is much more flexible in its processing of languages and information. You only need to take to Google to find research to support these findings (and many more, such as delaying the onset of dementia). I also tried to share with the 5th graders that a large part of their success with a foreign language will be choosing one that they really will find benefit in for their future lives. Many students come back to see me and share with me, regretfully, that they made a silly choice in middle school and now have to start over in high school with the language they want to learn. Some silly reasons to choose or not choose a class: “Because my best friend was taking it,” “Because the teacher is easy/hard,” “Because it seemed easier than the others.” Having done the exact same rotation of languages they will do next year in 6th grade, I can tell you I almost signed up for German, thinking it was “easy” and I should choose that. Thankfully my parents weren’t convinced and used some probing questions to see if German was really a good fit. We discovered that Spanish was actually more my thing than any of the other options. For one, I love tropical places. I love the foods, the music, and especially the dances. Spanish fit in with my interests. I gave my best pep-talk to the 5th graders to this extent, and I hope that they can evaluate their likes, interests, and personal connections (such as, “I have an aunt who lives in Germany and we visit her every summer”) to pick a language that truly interests them. Whatever they choose for 7th grade they will also have to study in 8th grade, so the choice they make will have a large impact on those 2 years of their lives.
Grades K, 1, & 2
As for the little ones, whom I now have the pleasure of teaching again, we are just getting into our semester. I go home tired everyday because I give them all my pep and energy in our classes, and I hope it is motivating them to work hard with me this semester! This first unit for all three grade levels involves learning or reviewing greetings. In kindergarten, this means the children are just learning to say “My name is _______” in Spanish (Me llamo _________). It will take them a couple of weeks to memorize their Spanish names, so if they forget, no worries! They always get the hang of it eventually! In 1st grade, we’ve added on the question “¿Cómo te llamas?” (What is your name?) to begin having short conversations with others. This week we are also learning ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?) and the responses Estoy bien/Estoy mal/Así así (I am well/I am bad/So-so). 2nd graders are reviewing the two questions and response structures that 1st graders are learning as well as utilizing them to have longer conversations with each other. I am trying to keep their homework assignments very simple right now as they get into the routine. Please help them develop good homework habits by encouraging them to complete the short assignment and sending it back to school in their purple Spanish folders. As we discussed in class, those who do additional practice outside of school remember the most Spanish! (Remember, kindergarten does NOT get homework.)
Also, since a 1st grader last week proudly explained to me that she knows how to say “Let It Go” in Spanish, I’ve added the Spanish version of the song to the homepage of our website, http://www.fcspanish.com. Simply click the “Disney en español” link on the page and it will take you to the video. I may be a bit biased, but I actually enjoy the Spanish version a lot more than the English version! 🙂 It’s worth mentioning that the translation “Libre Soy” actually means “I am free” instead of “let it go.” To the children this may be hard to understand, but translations often slightly change the meaning of a song to maintain the rhythm or rhyming structures of the song.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org