Communicating with Parents? They speak Spanish! Ahhh

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 773 Miles Away, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    I do not speak Spanish... at all. My school is 60% ESL and Bilingual and way more than the majority of that is spanish speaking students.

    It is safe to assume that their parents will not know English.

    I had all these wonderful ideas for my classroom and now I'm not sure how to implement them. I want to send home bi weekly newsletters, weekly student evaluations for parents to sign, the occassional note, and be able to call parents if need be.

    .. How do I do this now??? Any tips? Besides learn Spanish (which is actually a goal of mine but obviously not possible in 1 month).
     
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  3. Teacher 218

    Teacher 218 Rookie

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    I'm guessing (from my own school's situation) that you are the classroom teacher and your school has at least one ESL teacher who oversees the students. Speak with him/her to see what has been done in the past. Maybe there is a translator or something. She may already know whose parents speak English also. There has to be a way to make this work. I'm sure all of your plans will work; you may just have to slow them down or make some adjustments.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    For issues where you need to speak to the parents right away in order to pass along vital information or address a problem, you should look into using your school's ELL specialist (or equivalent). Part of the job responsibilities of ours is to call home in our place. She can also translate short notes home into Spanish.

    I think you should continue to send home newsletters as regularly as you like. Perhaps you could include a short section inviting parents to contact the ELL specialist if they need assistance translating. I'm not sure that many parents would take you up on the offer, but at least it's out there.

    All this depends on whether you have an ELL specialist-type person at your school. Hopefully you do! :)
     
  5. mstnteacherlady

    mstnteacherlady Cohort

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    If we send something (newsletter, note, etc.) home we are required to send a copy in Spanish to our Spanish speaking families. We have an ESL teacher and a translator in our school. She translates our notes and such, makes phone calls to parents, and translates during meetings with parents. I would definitely find out who that person is for your school. With a 60% ESL population, there has got to be someone who is your "go-to" person! :)
     
  6. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Last year I had a bilingual parent who helped me make a few phone calls for things that I had difficulty communicating. He offered when he first met me and I took him up on it!

    I would definitely see about getting some things translated. Half of my class last year was ESL, with about half of their parents speaking very limited English. I was worried that some of my plans wouldn't get carried out, but things worked out okay. Often they have a relative or friend who will come with them to help translate, and don't forget about older siblings - I was often able to communicate through them.

    When you truly encounter a language barrier, just do your best to meet the needs of the child at school.
     
  7. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    My school is 96% Hispanic we are 4 miles from the border.
    I just get a Bilingual aid and have her translate for me, letters home, conferences etc.
    But most of the time during conferences I know enough Spanish and they know enough English to get by

    wow a New England school that is 60% Hispanic
     
  8. MisterG

    MisterG Comrade

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    Some Spanish parents can understand some limited english.

    At my school, we had the ESL for the district, plus we had a few staff members who could translate to spanish.

    KEEP IN MIND that if you use a translator, if possible, get one who was born speaking spanish. No offense to translators in general...but this year there were some communcation issues with our translators. One felt they didn't know the local words (as some towns use words differently, etc) and another didn't know quite how to translate certain concepts into spanish. If you are a english speaker and learn how to speak spanish...that is not as good as growing up speaking spanish and learning English...at least for translation purposes.

    Either way...if you type notes home...just use the translating feature on MS word...that will get the general jist of what you are typing across to the parent.
     
  9. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Watch using Altavista Babel Fish Translation My Bilingual people don't like it You have to watch many online translators use Castilian Spanish it can't translate Spanlish. it is almost like listening to Ozzy Osborn speak English.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I absolutely agree! I'll add that it isn't just about the dialect... all the grammar gets messed up, too.

    Those online translators are AWFUL for translating anything more than one word. Once you start trying to translate phrases or sentences, it becomes a nightmare. And forget about idioms!

    If you don't believe me, look at this:

    Original English: Nick was my best friend. You had Kail. It just really really sucks. Dustin and Amber are really close too. No one can understand where I'm coming from. It's just a crappy situation. Last week was the hardest.

    ...Translated into Spanish: La mella fue mi mejor amigo. Usted tuvo Kail. Apenas realmente chupa realmente. Dustin y Ambar son cierra realmente también. Nadie puede entender donde vengo de. Es apenas una situación chunga. Fue la semana pasada el más duro.

    ...Translated back into English: The notch was my better friend. You had Kail. Barely really sucks really. Dustin and Ambar are closes really also. Nobody can understand where I come from. Is barely a situation chunga. Was last week the hardest one.
     
  11. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Be careful with having parents translate. There could be confidentiallty issues.
     
  12. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    :help: I am so glad you brought this up. I've been wondering about the same things. My new school is approx 60% ESL more or less. I do not speak Spanish and doubt that I will be able to pick up more than a little bit over time. I'm getting too old to learn a new language, I think, :lol: A bit of French is about enough for me. I do know that we have an ESL person (probably an aid) for the classes, or so I was told, but I've never worked with such a person. I really don't know what to expect from this particular school. My "hometown" school also has a high population of Spanish speakers and when I student taught and subbed there, it was no big deal as 99% of the bilingual kids spoke perfect English. I never met any of the parents. Where I am going, it is much more migrant than where I live and apparently most of the parents are non-English speakers.

    So, thx 773 for bringing this up and thx for all of the suggestions from the rest of you. I am hoping that we have many of the types of resources that many of you are talking about.

    Boy, more and more areas are becoming increasingly bilingual. Puts a whole new spin on the American melting pot idea. :D
     
  13. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Yes, I meant to say that in my post (I was the one that mentioned using a bilingual parent). I had him make calls about things like "We're going on a field trip, please sign the pink permission slip." Or other things like that. Never about student issues.
     
  14. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    As for the biweekly newsletter idea . . . maybe make it a classroom newsletter, that way your students can help translate! They are fifth graders, so I would imagine at least a couple would be able to fluently translate. That could be fun. A class-run newsletter, translations and all!
     
  15. teachkids

    teachkids Rookie

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    I have tried several on-line transalation sites. Babel fish was okay. I would print off several different ones and then had the school secretary look them over and picked which one was the best. It really helped to have a secretary who spoke Spanish and who had the time to do it for me.
     
  16. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Do ALL of your wonderful ideas, and don't stress! If you live in Massachusetts, then these parents have to be getting by SOMEHOW. Send home the notes in English and (only if its possible) in Spanish, and let the parents use their friends or their children to translate. I'm in a little different situation where my students live in this border town (I can see the river from my window as I write) and the parents are not only Spanish only, they refuse to learn and they often live in Mexico.

    Its time for people to understand that we are not catering to their spanish speaking ways and students. That ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MEAN don't respect their culture. I love the Mexican cultures and family values, but I do not think they should be allowed to use their language as a crutch. When parents learn that you are willing to work with them, meet with them, communicate with them, and teach their kids to be wonderful UNITED STATES CITIZENS, then they have to accept that you speak the language that most do in Massachusetts.

    If I moved anywhere in THE WORLD, there would be no Japanese as a Second Language, Spanish as a Second Language, or African as a Second Language. You sink or you swim. Its time for more people to taking swimming lessons!
     
  17. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I think Theodore Roosevelt commented on the subject:
    "In the first place we should insist that the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equity with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming an American and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." Theodore Roosevelt in a letter to the American Defense Society in 1919.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm sure you guys already know that there is no official language of the United States...

    I live in Las Vegas, where Spanish and English are used equally. In my neighborhood the primary language used is Spanish. Everyone gets by just fine, including me, and I can only kind of read it (I can't really speak it).

    Language is a HUGE part of any culture, and I think it's unfair to expect that parents must be forced to learn English if they don't want to. Furthermore, at least where I live, they don't really need to learn English--so why bother?

    When/If my hoosband and I have kids, we plan to enroll our kids in one of the bilingual elementary schools around here. Spanish is a major part of the culture of Las Vegas and I want them to feel included.

    I'm not trying to make anyone angry on account of my beliefs :p , I'm just sharing them. I know that plenty of folks disagree.
     
  19. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    My school's population is 96% Hispanic. The notes from the school go home in Spanish and English. My newsletters, etc. go home in English and I've never had any problems. Usually there is another child or family member at home who can read English and the kids (it amazes me to see them do it at 5-years old) can translate any immediate message that may arise. Yes, communication with parents is important and valuing someone's culture is important, but it's not feasible for me to track someone down to translate every note I'm sending home.
     
  20. teachkids

    teachkids Rookie

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    Last year I moved to a new school. The school notes go home in English/Spanish, however I now send home notes in English. I let the students translate for the parents. Occasionally I have had to pull in a translator for parent teacher conferences, but for the most part, the parents are really trying.

    For my stuborn students who try to pull the language card, I will print their behavior chart in Spanish and English. That way the parents and student understand it.
     
  21. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    When I was young I lived in between the Italian and Jewish neighborhoods most of my friends had grandparents from the "old" country living with them. They spoke English poorly but they spoke it. If I tried to speak Italian or one of the Slavic languages they would tell me this "In Amaryika we talk English" even my Jewish/German grandmother would not let me attempt German. I went to neighborhood festivals the Son's of Italy, German American Club and Jewish get togethers (they had so many)and they all had good food!
    Never did I feel not included, someone always told me what was being said.
    My Grandmother told me how hard it was in school for her only knowing German but she was proud to speak English (Kind of like Arnold Schwarzenegger but a little lower in pitch:D ) :2cents: :2cents: Keep the change
     
  22. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    I am sorry, but if these children are in 5th grade that means that their parents have been in the AMERICAN school system for almost 6 years (mabye longer if the kids were sent to a pre-school)! They sholud have picked up enough English to get by and communicate in English! It makes my blood boil when a person that LIVES (and has lived for quite a while) in this country is not able to speak English! It makes me even more upset when it is apparent that they are not even TRYING to learn the languae!
    If I moved to Italy, Japan, Mexico etc... I would learn the language spoken there......
    We make it too easy for people to get by in their natvie language here. Press one for English, 2 for Spanish.... Do the people in Spain have to press one for Spanish and 2 for English??!?! Im curious!
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    1. Lots of kids move to the US during their school years. I had a number of students last year who were new to the country and new to the language. Why would their parents be any more likely to know English, presumably having just moved here as well?

    2. Perhaps it's true that people in other countries don't have a "Press 2 for English" option... But I would venture to guess that most people in other countries are bilingual, and often the second language is English or French. If you don't believe me, try traveling to Europe and see how many people speak English to you once they recognize that you're an American (and they will...). It shames me how self-centered we Americans can be.
     
  24. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    I have traveled quite a bit and am thankful that people speak English...but I am a visitor!!!!!!
    There is a huge difference between a person here on vacation and a person who lives, works, pays taxes, votes, shops, owns or rents a home, sends their children to school, etc.... that will not learn the language!
    It does not bother you (just a little bit?) that you can take a citizen ship test in a language other than English?!?! Does that seem a little silly?
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It doesn't bother me at all because we have no official language.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    And furthermore, I think that a person who lives in this country should be able to speak their preferred language especially if they are a citizen. We have lots of freedoms in this country like religion, speech, etc. Why shouldn't someone be allowed to choose the language spoken in their own home? Why should they be forced to speak my language just because it's what I speak? I would never force them to vote the way I do or attend the same church as me or eat the same foods as me. They can do what they like... it doesn't hurt anyone.

    I know this is a hot topic, and I'm not wanting to start any fights. I'm probably just as passionate about my position as the rest of you are about yours, and that's okay. We might just have to agree to disagree. :)
     
  27. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    I think you are right! This is a topic that can get very heated!!! I do not care what language a person chooses to speak in the privacy of his or her own home or when they are with a group of friends that all speak that langague. What I do mind is when a person knows so little English that they are unable to assist me when working in a store or unable to ask for helps themsevles when out in public.
    While we do not have an "offical" language. English is widley spoken, and our country was founded on it.
     
  28. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Sorry to have hijacked your thread, Miles Away. I know you were looking for how to speak Spanish to the parents, but I just don't think you should have to...

    Here's an email I got the other day, ya'll may find interesting...

    Immigration Law (not political, not a joke - make sure you read all the
    way to the end...)

    1. If you migrate to this country, you must speak the native language.
    2. You have to be a professional or an investor. No unskilled workers
    allowed.
    3. There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools, no special
    ballots for elections, all government business will be conducted in our
    language.
    4. Foreigners will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are
    here.
    5. Foreigners will NEVER be able to hold political office.
    6. Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food
    stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs.
    7. Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount equal to
    40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
    8. If foreigners do come and want to buy land that will be okay, BUT
    options will be restricted. You are not allowed waterfront property. That
    is reserved for citizens naturally born into this country.
    9. Foreigners may not protest; no demonstrations, no waving a foreign flag,
    no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies, if
    you do you will be sent home.
    10. If you do come to this country illegally, you will be hunted down and
    sent straight to jail.

    Harsh, you say? The above laws happen to be the immigration laws of Mexico!



    The reason parents expect you to speak Spanish even though you don't is because the USA cops out and allows people to be lax. Our forefathers didn't want this, Americans don't want this, but people just want to be lazy. No other country gets bullied around and acts like a bunch of wimps. Please, foreigners, come to the USA, get a good job, pay your taxes, get along in our language, and don't be a burden - especially to some wonderful teacher who loves her students and wants to teach them, but can't because they won't learn our language and their parents won't either.
     
  29. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Many parts of Massachusetts have very high percentages of Hispanic students. The difference is there are more Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Guatamalans in this area than Mexicans.

    Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Send things home in English as your normally would and most likely the parents who don't speak English will have someone (family, friends, neighbors) that they normally ask to translate things for them. The school will probably have copies of important paperwork in Spanish for you to give to those students when permission slips or things like that need to go home. That's been my experience anyway, as I live in an area with a large Hispanic population.
     
  30. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    (Bolding mine.)

    The OP never said that the parents EXPECT her to speak Spanish or that they WON'T LEARN English.

    If you had an illiterate parent (could not read or write in any language) would you send everything home written and have that same attitude?

    In my experience with parents who are not native English speakers, they DO THEIR BEST to communicate with the school. I have parents who come to school with a translator (or at least a relative who speaks English slightly better than they do) to clarify something they do not understand.

    We've had families fleeing atrocities in Sierra Leone or simply emigrating to make a better life for their children. As a public school, we educate all children. To me, part of education is communicating with the parents because we have to work together. I think, as teachers, we need to do what we can to make that possible.
     
  31. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    I know this debate is getting heated. However, felt compelled to at least comment on the language discussion, as I already noted on the original post.

    I find a lot of comparisons (well, contrasts, rather), to the policies of other nations. Yet, America tends to distance itself from the workings of other nations. We tend to say: "There, they do that. But here, we do this." We have a lot of great things in America--"Look at what that nation lacks--we have it here, though."

    So, using the "other countries do so and so" seems like an unfair reasoning. Each nation is different, and so comparing them, of course, will not be fair. Not all other countries have a history like ours, were founded like ours (hell, some were only (relatively) recently released from colonization), or have had past immigration policies like ours. Other nations are not as geographically isolated as ours or as highly coveted as a "dream" as ours (though I'm sure that has decreased over the years).

    So, when we compare, I think these are important notes to keep in mind. Should people be able to speak the language of their choice? Sure. Should we have a common language to better communicate as an American public? I would say yes. It is not uncommon to note a "home culture" and the "American culture." Language may just be another aspect of that.

    [Disclaimer: Any use of "we" or "our" refers to America/n(s). I am aware that some posters are not from the States, so I'm not presuming to speak for you, haha. Of course, I'm not presuming to speak for anyone but myself.]
     
  32. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    I would like to apologize for my little rant earlier. Guess you found a subject about which I am passionate.

    Let me give you some background...

    I am a young white woman who moved from Ohio to teach Biology in a small border town. I am treated as a blessing by some, and a curse by others. I have had both students, parents, and coworkers SNEER at me for not speaking "their" language. Spanish is spoken by 99% of the population here, and English by maybe 30%. that leaves 70% of the population speaking NO ENGLISH.

    I feel like I am discriminated against sometimes for not knowing Spanish, I get left out of conversations, students don't even try to ask me questions because I am their only white teacher, so many will just fail or transfer out to a teacher who will just be pathetic and lazy and teach them in Spanish. I am by FAR (not to toot my own horn but its true) the best science teacher, and I also teach the students proper English and tell them about life outside of this hellhole little town we live in. Yes, life is very different away from the Mexican border! They can't believe it!

    I feel like the students and parents get short changed by the lazy teachers and administrators in my district who just teach the kids in Spanish because its easier and "the kids are just going to work in the fields or at McDonalds anyways." (thats a quote from another teacher, by the way.) I HATE HATE HATE this apathy, and that is the reason I got my master's degree - to become a principal and change this system. Now, I can't get a job because everyone in this freaking town is related to each other (and i'm related to no one) and they all give their drinking buddies jobs.

    I'm fuming and fuming, but maybe you can see where my previous post came from rather than me just deleting it. I HATE laziness and apathy on the parts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators. I'm so sick of short changing these kids and not preparing them for a real life!!!

    lol, venting over, thanks guys
     
  33. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    You do bring up a point with the Sierra Leone reference but here in the Southwest we get mostly Mexican and Central American Illegals. Of my students I would say 75% are either the student is an Illegal or the parents are (we have many who are born in the USA but the parents are here Illegally) We have a crime rate higher than the rest of the country involving Illegals, we have deaths involving Illegals, in previous years "June 9, 2005, So far this year a total of 160 illegal aliens have died along the Arizona border." that was a half of a year!
    Our Hospital losses millions a year on Illegal aliens who get treatment (accidents, births, sickness) and leave without paying.

    This is not a race thing it is just that most of our Illegal aliens are Hispanic.
     
  34. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I agree, my story is almost 100% the same as yours (just that I am an old white guy from New York)
    BTW we need an Assistant Principal.
     
  35. teachkids

    teachkids Rookie

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    Brava!
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm in the same boat as both of you, but I don't feel the same way. I'm not discriminated against in my school community, and I'm reasonably certain that it's because I make an effort to take an active interest in the popular languages and cultures of this area.

    When we learn new vocabulary in Latin, the kids always tell me how the Latin word looks like the Spanish word for the same thing. I give extra credit when kids make word trees showing how a Latin word evolved into a Spanish word. I make an effort to teach grammar using concepts from both English and Spanish (just the basic stuff for now, anyway).

    I do not feel like they should have to abandon their language at the door any more than my English-speaking students would have to. On the contrary, their home languages and family traditions/cultures are embraced in my classroom--they share their experiences and I share my own. They get to hear all about the lovely world of lutefisk (MMM!!! Just kidding. YUCK!!! is what I really mean), the perfect meal that is corned beef and cabbage, and they get to hear me say "Uffda!" all the time.

    It works out.
     
  37. teachkids

    teachkids Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2007

    I agree. I don't want them to abandon their language at the door, however standards are in English. I always blend in my high school French, or try to answer in my limited Spanish (very little). The show stopper is when I use American Sign Language, I was an interpreter in the classroom for years before becoming a teacher. That breaks into another kind of lesson. I also have a Cultural potluck lunch on Valentine's Day. Very fun!
     
  38. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Well "Uffda!" and "don't ja know"
    I am sure you are not inferring that we do not take an active interest in the popular languages and cultures of our areas.
    Just a few interests:
    I have attended a number of Quinceañeras,
    I have been to the Crying House on the reservation.
    We celebrate May 10, Sept 16, and the the famous Cinco de Mayo
    And I keep Pepto-Bismol for when I eat cultural food :eek:


    If anyone needs to know what the dates mean just ask.
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I'm not implying that at all.

    I'm just reiterating the fact that the language is a part of the culture--perhaps an even bigger part than holidays and food.
     
  40. tiredteacher29

    tiredteacher29 Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Wow, there are a lot of replies to this topic! Without getting into the argument, let me just say that as a classroom teacher I have to face the reality that many of my parents do not read/speak English. Regardless of my feelings on the matter, that is reality. If there is something I want/need them to know, I must find a way to communicate it. I am semi-fluent in Spanish so I translate everything I can that I send home. However, there is a teacher resource that I know of that is a book with pre-made notes home to parents in English and Spanish, I think it is called "Hola!". It has saved me a lot of time. You may want to look into something like that.
     
  41. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I googled it and here it is at Amazon.com
    http://www.amazon.com/Hola-Communic...178986/ref=pd_sim_b_2_img/002-9028458-3051212
    $17.95
    scroll down the page and there are other books under the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" heading
     

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