It’s been hard to pinpoint, but something has changed with our little man recently. I know part of it is maturity and experience in a school environment. Then it occurred to me what I’ve seen lately – confidence.
The school year is almost over, and finally he’s comfortable enough to share a little of this language outside the classroom.
His reading is outstanding. He is reading Spanish at a first grade level, which to me is amazing given back in September he didn’t know the Spanish alphabet. More reading practice will build vocabulary and we see him taking off. He’s a good reader in English already, so these two go hand in hand. We are thrilled.
He proclaimed (very matter of fact) in the car the other day that he’s “bilingual” and he is working on “mastering Spanish.” Someday he’ll be an expert, he says.
I heard from one of his teachers that something was bothering him last week. He was upset and another student was sitting with him, consoling. These kids can be so loving to each other, it makes your heart ache. In this instance, their conversation was in Spanish. I wish I were a fly on the wall for that.
We had a substitute teacher about 2 weeks ago. She doesn’t speak English to the kids (though she speaks it perfectly), so they don’t relate to her in that language. She made a point to tell me that he made a big effort to communicate with her in Spanish that day.
Yesterday we were talking while out for a walk. I explained that summer camp and next school year, there will be students that don’t know any Spanish, just like him when he started first grade. We talked that it was an important job for him to help them learn, just like other students did for him. And then we played a game called “¿cómo se dice ___ en Espanol?” (How do you say ___ in Spanish?) I asked him all kinds of basic situations, and he happily answered them for me. He was the teacher, I was the student. Fun!
The first few months of the school year, he flatly refused to tell me any words in Spanish. He refused to play Spanish games on the computer or iPad. I had to sneak in Spanish music in the car. But then I started catching him doing things like counting backwards while jumping, singing songs in Spanish while playing by himself, counting to 100. By Christmas, he would reluctantly read a book outloud to me.
Now he’ll gladly read a book aloud or to himself in Spanish. But the biggest change is definitely the speaking part. He’ll voluntarily tell us things in Spanish that he learned that day. He ASKS for Spanish music, he has favorite songs (de colores, de bonita bandera), and will sing them with our without the music playing. He will rattle off phrases in Spanish and not realize he’s doing it. I think that’s my favorite part. He’s switching and not realizing it. And we love that, and his new found, budding confidence. I know he’s thinking ahead about being a second grader, and we’re certainly excited for what that will bring for him.