So, on Valentine’s Day, I was at an elementary school with some of my classmates, teaching fifth graders introductory Spanish. They’re doing some kind of video project with a Spanish-speaking country, so we were asked to come and teach them a little. It was actually quite a bit more fun than I expected.
The first kid I worked with, a little girl, was the most unenthusiastic I’d had all day- she didn’t want to speak with me, she thought Spanish was boring, and she wanted to learn French instead. I somehow managed to restrain myself from saying something around the lines of “I don’t know squat about French, kid, now shut up and learn Spanish” and I coaxed her into learning a little, but I’m not sure if anything stuck.
Thankfully, the next two kids I had were better. Both were kind of quiet and shy, but they were also adorable- one of them, a little boy, asked me how to say ‘kittens,’ ‘pigs,’ and ‘freshwater seals,’ (also ‘Russia,’ randomly enough); the other, a little girl, asked me how to say ‘I like hedgehogs.’ (At that point, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit, because I love hedgehogs.) It was the cutest thing.
My friend and I worked together with the third kid, and we both agreed that she was the best we’d both had all day. She was a little nervous at first, but with some encouragement, she opened up a little and actually turned out to be a pretty quick learner. One thing that she said was, “I thought this was going to be hard at first, but now, it’s kinda fun.” I wish this was an attitude that more people took to learning a foreign language- so many (at least where I live) go into it thinking that it’s going to be hard, and they’re going to be terrible at it, and there’s only going to be grammar and memorization, so they don’t even bother trying. It’s true that it’s difficult at times, and there is quite a bit of grammar and memorization, but it’s not as bad as it seems. Once you get going, it gets easier and much more fun- it’s totally worth the pain at the beginning.
(We took a selfie with the kid. It was great.)
The fourth, and last, kid I worked with had seriously fantastic pronunciation, but by the end of our session together, I was basically mentally begging her to give me some kind of expression other than “I’m bored out of my mind; can I go now?” It honestly got awkward after a little while, but thankfully, she seemed a bit more excited when she got to play memory games with some of her friends. I’m wondering if she remembered anything after I left.
After that, I went and had lunch with my friends, then we headed back to school. It was a pretty great Valentine’s Day. But I realized two things: 1, are all fifth graders that small and squeaky? I didn’t think they were, but then again, it’s been a while since I’ve been one/had to deal with more than one. 2, dealing with small children (even if they’re not that small) is exhausting. That’s really the only word I have to describe it.
Elementary school teachers are hardcore. They deal with these kids on a daily basis- it can’t be easy. It’s pretty awesome.