Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Light Bulb turns on with use of Spanish Language

The week before winter break was very hectic so I was not able to update my blog until now. However, I had some interesting encounters the last week with the Kindergarteners. I was able to work with one student who I have not spent a lot of time with before and has difficulty understanding due to a language barrier. The students’ first language is Spanish and we have not had a lot of one-on-one time with the student because he has periods of absences from school and when he is at school, he have not been sure where to get a good sense of his academic level just yet. Michelle began working with J. initially for assessments and short group activities. From these interactions, it seemed that J. was much farther behind his peers and seemed to have difficulty comprehending the tasks given in English. Since I have background in Spanish, I decided to work with J. today focusing on basic number recognition and counting using the “Number Fun” app with the Spanish option.

When we first began, J. was able to use the Ipad to trace the numbers. I like this app because when the number is first chosen, it would say the number in English and after the number is correctly traced, it repeats the number in Spanish. J’s face just lite up when he heard the number “uno”! He was really excited because he was not expecting the Spanish dialogue but it helped build his comprehension a lot. He repeated the number in Spanish and promptly moved on to the next number. J. traced the numbers 1-9 without difficulty and could name most of the numbers in Spanish. With the use of Spanish, I was able to observe a difficulty J. had with identifying number 20. This helped to establish the goal of understanding teens and moving on to “20s” in the future. Interestingly enough in the next activity I did with J, I found that he enjoys hands-on activities in which he can check his answers himself with the aid of a reference. This allows J to use his resources and feel more independent. Also, I found it interesting that J seems to be very bilingual and understands most questions in Spanish, yet makes an effort to speak in English as well. For example, I asked “cuantos hay?” when counting marbles, and he replied, “one, two, three” in English. I hope to continue to allow J to use his Spanish or English vocabulary as he feels comfortable to enhance his understanding of mathematical concepts.

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