Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why I love kindergarten

About this time of year I start thinking if I wouldn't be better off teaching high school - the time of the year when the budget committee meets and rumors of the elementary World Language positions being cut. But then I have a kindergarten class and I remember just how much I love teaching my early language learners. Here are a few reasons why it rocks to teach Spanish to kindergartners.



1. They are completely baffled but generally ok with 99%-100% TL usage in class, but that's because they don't understand everything that's being said to them in English. Most of them don't even recognize there is a difference between Spanish and English, only that Ms. K talks funny. At the beginning of the year a few will tell me, "You need to speak kid-language" or ask me "When are you going to use your normal voice?"


2. But by the end of the year they do not like hearing me speak any English even to adults outside of class. I've been told, "Uh, shouldn't you be speaking Spanish?" and asked "Why are you not speaking Spanish?" "Oh my gosh, do you speak English???" and my favorite, "¡No inglés!"


3. They believe in magic. The looks on their faces when they realize the 3 Kings have left them candy canes in the paper shoes we colored is the best part of my week. Or how excited they get when they find the small Ratoncito Péréz that I hide in my room. They believe me when I tell them that calling my puppet a puppet will hurt his feelings because he thinks he is a real frog so they whisper to ask when will I bring out the puppet again.


4. They tell me I'm beautiful and that they love me on a regular basis. If you want to feel like a rock star, then teach kindergartners. We practice how to whisper Hola to me in the hall and how to give a hug from afar (two fingers crossed and wiggled at the person you want to "hug") at the beginning of the year because otherwise I would be mobbed every time I saw a class in the hallway.


5. Even though they are novice low they are the most enthusiastic and creative learners at this level that you will find. I've got several students who aren't satisfied with just muy bien when it comes to talking about feelings (something we haven't even started yet in kindergarten) so they've started pointing to my poster as they leave the room to tell me they're tired or hungry. One kid pointed to me and then the sick picture then to himself and the sad picture. I guess he thought I might not understand if he said he was sorry I was sick if he said it in English. (This interaction by the way has prompted me to start feelings earlier than I would have since it is clearly something they wish to communicate.)


6. They personalize their learning with little prompting from me. I'm fascinated each year at which words and phrases the different classes latch onto and make their own. Mrs, Kelley's class this year really know aquí está while Mrs. Nelson's class loves to say guácala. Several kids love to say Ay caramba anytime I drop something (which since I am clumsy is often.)


What are your favorite things about teaching early learners? Share in the comments below!



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