Bilingual Babies

By Letty • August 4, 2022

Twelve years ago I decided to change my job from an English as a Second Language teacher to simply working at a department store childcare room, basically for better hours and benefits. My charges were preschoolers, and to my surprise, many of these 2-4 year old children knew no English at all because shoppers at the store were families of employees at an international company with headquarters nearby. I found myself teaching English to preschoolers! Two experiences were unforgettably moving for me - they came from a couple of little girls.

One child was about 3 yrs-old when she came to the playroom. She was shy and nervous, having recently come from Mexico and speaking only Spanish. However, I knew some Spanish, so we enjoyed time playing together while she listened to English-speaking children around her. Eventually she attended a local preschool and became fluent in English. One day she came to the playroom and sweetly said to me, “Teacher, remember when I called you ‘maestra’?” Her bright eyes were filled with confidence!

The other child was also 3 yrs-old when she came to the playroom that was filled with blocks, crayons and paper, tea sets, etc. She had no friends in the town because her family had just moved from another state;and she only spoke Russian. We played with blocks and made a man with a red block for the “mouth” and a block for the “nose”, and we put “food” into his mouth, like a red block for an “apple”, a green block for “salad”, etc. She went to preschool later on, also, and became excellent at speaking English! Then one day…after a long time away…she came into the playroom and said to me, “Let’s play blocks!” And she wanted to build the man again, and to give him food. From these children I learned to let extreme discomfort and the massive need for learning become a springboard for joy and growth.


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