More than just an English Word

As my girlfriend prepares for the start of the new academic year, in her 8th year as a teacher, she goes into her school during the summer to prepare her classroom for her new students. On a couple of occasion’s she has asked for me to come and help maneuver some of the furniture as she shapes her learning environment.

She is about to inherit 25 new students who are all unique. They come from different backgrounds, with different skills sets, they are at varies stages in their learning displaying both strengths and weaknesses. She has done her homework, she has taken the time to speak with the teacher about the individual students, she has read their reports, met the children themselves and is prepared for what lies ahead, but she also has the ability to adapt her teaching / educating to suit the needs of her children. I am sure that this is the case for many other teachers, but there is something else that she has that can impact on not only a child’s development but also a member of staff, and I was witness to this.

As we were about to leave after we had spent a few hours organizing her classroom, we bumped into one of the cleaners in the school. When he saw her, his eyes lit up and there was a smile from ear to ear. She started to converse with him in Spanish. He spoke very limited English, if any at all, but when she started to speak with him in his native language he was able to engage and the conversation flowed. In the school she is the point of call for any conversations that might be required in Spanish with a staff member and any parents.

Previously she had mentioned to me about a student she had in her class, who spoke very little English and as a result this challenged his learning, She was able to work with him not only on his education but also his ability to speak English. This gave great comfort to his parents who also found the language a stumbling block, and her skill set gave them hope and trust with their child’s education.

The reason I mention this is because I look back at my own education I feel I missed out on the opportunity to learn a new language, appreciate and understand another culture. I once worked with an international player from South America who was a top professional and a good player. We had a number of 1 on 1 session’s coaching him back to fitness, but he didn’t speak a word of English. Initial translations would occur through one of the therapists who was Spanish and they spoke English, but on the grass it was just me and him. We worked through this by using demonstrations, hand gestures, diagrams etc but had I known the language that connection could have been better. We worked well together but I just look back and think I wish I had taken the opportunity when I was being educated to take learning an additional language a little more seriously. I guess hindsight is always a easy thing, but had a I known then what I knew know that working with a multicultural industry learning and additional language would have provided me with further opportunities. I am not saying it is too late now, but if is obviously a little more difficult.

My girlfriend speaks 5 languages and she is fluent in all of them. She not only has the ability to converse and translate but she has the ability to empathize, build relations, share an emotion, develop trust and ultimately help develop an individual.

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