A while back, a new student came into my school, and he was from Honduras. Meeting him was great, but I did not know what I was getting myself into. The new student’s name was Erick, and he did not know how to speak English. As soon as he stepped into the class, my teacher had special work for me and my friend to do, which was translating. That may sound like a difficult thing, but it was the best thing that happened to me because I met Erick and was able to help him.
Two years later, the same thing happened, though this time it was with other kids from different places, such as Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, and they are all great people. So now it seems like 80 percent of the time I speak Spanish to them so I can explain, read, translate or help them spell a word. Besides working with me, they also go to a teacher. Those 15 kids are my life, and they are some of the best people I’ve ever met, including Erick.
Helping them is a pleasure, though there are some times that we (or more likely they) aren’t practicing their English. To fix that problem we go to a roundtable and I help them with handouts. If there is a passage to read, we all take turns to read and practice. I help them not only with writing and reading but also in science, social studies and math.
They bring purpose to my knowing Spanish, and I’m proud of knowing two languages and being able to help them to be students and also teachers. So I am not just Milly the student, but I am also Milly the Spanish-to-English translator.
Allison Krieb and Mike MacKenzie’s sixth-grade class, Longwood Middle School, Middle Island