CandyMan

by Wendy V. Ash

One of the sweetest rewards I have witnessed, is when children begin to connect the dots and find how speaking Spanish benefits them. The best way for them to achieve that is through dialogue in a natural conversation.

I have a student I have affectionately named “Candy Man”. Before I go into the story as to how he acquired this name, I’d like to tell you about his environment. Candy Man attends a private school in the suburbs, however, he lives in a neighborhood that is largely Hispanic. He sees the importance of the language and is eager to learn it so that he can have better communications with those around him. This insight and initiative already sets him miles ahead. As a result, and in combination with my classes, he has acquired pronunciation worthy of a native speaker.

One day I entered the classroom and Candy Man’s hand shot up eager to share a story. “Señora Wendy! I talked to somebody in Spanish the other day!”. I was amused and asked him to recount his story.

Apparently there was a neighbor next door working in his yard. Candy Man said “¡Hola!”, thinking that the man would reply “¡Hola!” back and that would be the end of the conversation. The man instead replied “¿Como estás?” (How are you?). Luckily for Candy Man, we had just finished a lesson on feelings. He dug into the catacombs of his active vocabulary and replied “Tengo hambre.” (I am hungry). The gentleman nodded and produced a candy bar from his pocket and handed it to Candy Man.

Now, while I obviously do not condone taking candy from strangers, this was an incredible moment to convey to the class. Having the courage to speak Spanish to others has its rewards and becomes useful.

Life might be like a box of chocolates, but if they speak their Spanish, they will have a future full of advantages over their monolingual peers… just like Candy Man.

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