Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Student Reflection

by Tessa McGirk

This semester has passed so quickly! I cannot believe we have just about one month left. Working at Salt and Light was definitely one of the highlights of my semester. I have never had the chance to speak at length with Spanish-speaking children: it is a completely different experience from speaking with adults. Personally, I think it is more difficult, but way more fun. Their language is just so different: in some, you could hear phrases they were copying from their parents, while others were barely past the two-word phase. Some of my favorites were those who just smiled and nodded at everything you said. I do not know if they just could not understand me, or if they were just too shy to say anything, but they were so sweet. Children are so much more hopeful and energetic, even if they do mumble more.

I would have liked to have gotten to know each of them on a deeper level, but it was still really interesting meeting new children every time I helped at Salt and Light. It gave me different perspectives, different views on their lives in Champaign. Some of them really liked school and some of them really did not. My favorite part about talking to them, however, was learning about who was bilingual and who was not. It was amazing to see how much these young people knew, and how curious they were to learn more. We exchanged many animal names, colors and numbers in both languages. There were a few times when two monolinguals were at the table with my partner and me. One child was Spanish monolingual and the other was English monolingual: they just stared at each other like they could not figure out what was going on. It was fun to see the confusion and the wonder on their faces when my partner and I would switch between languages. Being with them and talking to them in the limited time that I had was simply fun.

I am excited for the rest of this semester and the time I have left to help at Salt and Light. After I graduate this spring, I am going to be working as a translator, and this class has helped my confidence so much. With the experiences I have had, I would like to think that my skills have improved; even if they have not, I know that my confidence has, as well as my drive to learn and practice even more. Now I know that I am capable of being a good translator and helping others communicate. I am so excited to use Spanish for the rest of my life and to learn everything those I will meet have to teach me.

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