As an English teacher in a kindergarten I have heard this sentence many times. In some occasions, it went along a smiley face of a father enjoying the process of learning a second language in which his son was absorbed. But, unfortunately, many other times I saw a face of a worried parent that doubted about the education of their child, if an English kindergarten/classes was the right choice… It can get worst and the parent be thinking about what is the point of learning English, why did they decide to get pregnant, what is the sense of life…but…let’s keep calm.
That is, the process of listen, listen and listen.
Normally, within the happiness of the pregnancy and the decisions to take: dummy, breastfeeding, baby bottle, cosleeping, etc…parents also talk about the education.
Which kindergartens are nearby, schools for the future; and they find that some of them teach partially or totally in English. Then, they think about their kid getting a degree, with a perfect level of English, getting a good job, buying a house, getting married, having kids… Yes, this life is possible, but…there is a whole path of learning English
as a second language that has its own steps and must be understood and taken into account.
“I see her in class with you….and she doesn’t answer! I think it is because she is too small and she can’t understand you”. I am going to phone Queen of England and tell her
that English cannot be taught before the kid is 3 years old, their whole educational system has to change… Small Spanish kids DO understand English. Even if they don’t answer (which is normal) they DO understand. I am not stating that it is normal that they don’t respond because I like to do monologues. I am saying this because the first step of learning a language (first or second) is the input. That is, the process of listen, listen and listen.
«mira seño ¡Is llueving!»
Input never finishes, because human beings are always listening and learning new words, both in Spanish and English. But, once the brain has storaged enough words to have a basic communication, it gently puts himself aside to allow the output some space. And here comes the cacao maravillao of “sometimes he speaks, but I don’t understand him, I guess he speaks in “his English”. (This time with a smiley face). Yes, the first times that he says a word he doesn’t pronounce it perfectly. Do you remember the first times that he said “papá”, “mamá” or “agua”? Do you remember all the
unintelligible sounds that came before he could say properly those words? The same is happening with his first words in English. Just give him a bit of time.
Once he is able to, more or less, communicate in English, his little brain has to learn which words are Spanish, which are English and with who he must speak what…wow…it is hard to write, imagine the tough work on the brain. That is why sometimes, no…lots of times, we would hear the kid speaking half in English, half in Spanish (this is the best scenario). Or, creating a new language with sentences like “mira seño ¡Is llueving! Again, keep calm, trust on your kid’s brain and everything will be fine.
Once we overcome input, output, mixing languages and the brain has done its job…our kid will speak English. Yes, that day arrives. Parents melt when they see their kid explaining to his teacher that he forgot his homework and home and he is very sorry, or that he went to a birthday party on Saturday and he had a super great time. Then, parents breathe, and the dream of his kid getting a good degree and a good job is possible again.
By Sara Peris