FN# :draft#2: Lnaguage Barriers (Revision)

From: Jess Thyne
Submit: Post Field Note
VisitDate: 10/07/96
Date: 16 Oct 1996
Time: 14:59:40
Remote Name: octal-lab-mac01.ucsc.edu



Manuella (female, age?)


Some events happened at the beginning of the class, but these are not the ones that interested me. I was at a computer playing Mine Sweeper with a child, when Maurice asked me to help Manuella load a game on the cdrom. I quickly realized that she did not speak a word of english, and I saw that she was very frustrated by the computer. After a few minutes of fiddling with the computer, I got Treasure island to load up. Manuella did not know what to do with the game, so I showed her how to click to mouse where she wanted to character to move. She could not read the words given by the computer about what to do, and I could not tell her either, so she just moved the little man around the screen for about ten minutes until her hand got tired. Durring this time, I just watched her, and I tried to point to places where she might want the man to move to, but we did not communicate very well. She seemed more and more frustrated with the game, and she tried to ask me something in Spanish that I did not understand. I called Maurice over to translate, and he said that Manuella wanted to write. I loaded up a word program for her, and Maurice showed her some basics. She typed yo my llamo Nella. I figured that she meant that her nickname was Nella. She seemed to asked me how to go down to the next line, and I showed her the way to do it with the mouse and the return key. She then wrote my mama siiamma... And then she named her father and her friend in the class. I read the names out loud, and I asked her if I was right. I thanked her in Spanish for helping me pronounce the names and she seemed very pleased. I then loaded a word program on the computer next to me, and wrote, yo my llamo Jesse. She smilled, and I asked her to write my mother's name is... on her computer so that I could type it on mine. She did, and I wrote what my mother's name was. She then showed me how to do father, brother, and sister's names, and she gave me her brother's and sister's name. I had to go then to help Maurice with a program, but I said Adios to Nella before she left.


I've had a difficult time with learning language in my life. It was very intimidating to help a student who could not understand me, and vice versa. I noticed thought that the setting, where we had many resources avalible, made the momment much easier. At first, we had to try to communicate by using physical means, pointing, facial expressions, and a very few words we had in common helped some. I was actually fairly impressed with the extent of how much I knew what Maneulla wanted, and we both seemed to understand how the other was feeling by the look on our faces. But, without Maurice, I might not have figured out that she wanted to write. The ideas in the readings that it takes a whole group, not just a teacher and a student to teach a child seem right on now that I have seen them in action.


I was wondering how I could surpass the language barrier with the non-english speaking children. I did not find a complete answer, but I did find that it is possible to communicate, and even enjoy each other's company, in such a friendly environment, despite such barriers.