Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 10 Nov 1996
Remote Name: porter-lab08.ucsc.edu
Ana, 6 years old, female
On Monday at Barrios Unidos, I spent time working with Ana. We worked with the reading program, the story about a little boy who goes to the beach with his grandma. When I joined her at the computer, she was reading the story in Spanish. I asked her if she wanted me to translate the words into english. She was hesitant and didn't seem interested so I just translated a few of the sentences. When we got to the end of the story, she showed me how you could have the story read in english. She asked me if I wanted to read it. She probably thought I couldn't understand the spanish. So we started to read it in english but she got bored and wanted to go color.Her spoken english is very good. She also read some of the story in english aloud and she did very well. I think she s problably just more comfortable with spanish. Then we went to color in the other room. I soon noticed that she was copying what I was drawing. I colored a line of hearts across my page and she asked me to do the same on hers. I drew a sun and she drew one,too. She gave me a sticker and started to ask me questions about myself and my family. I think this is the first time a child has initiated with me.
I think Ana and I worked together collaboratively. We read the story together. I would offer to translate it into english, thus helping her with her english. I in turn was learning spanish as I listened to and read the story. The program we worked on was top-down because you got to learn while reading, it wasn't teaching basic skills. I think it was informal learning because there was no structure, we just did what we felt like when we felt like it. Maybe this isn't what made it informal. I think it was informal because I was not an expert. We were really on equal ground, she knowing more spanish and I more english. It was unlike traditional settings in that I was not telling her what to do or "teaching" her intentionally.
I noticed these events because I am interested in issues concerning bilingual education. I was surprised to see a spanish speaking program. It was the first time I have seen one. I like that it gave the option of both english and spanish, as well as Japanese. It would be cool if you could read the story in english and have it read to you in spanish at the same time, if you have trouble understanding. This might encouraged the primarily spanish speaking kids to experiment and take more risks with learning english. As well, I'm interested in what kinds of activities lend themselves to more personal interactions with the kids. I found that drawing together was a good time to hand out and enjoy one another.