Friday, March 26, 2010

A Simple Smile in Spanish

What is it about this little girl's smile that makes your heart melt? 
What power does this smile have?
Do you walk away feeling a rush of confidence or a splash of happiness?

I do.
 Tonight, I experienced the magic behind a child's simple smile. I volunteered at a local citizenship workshop for the Latino community of Springfield. I am a Spanish student and speak fairly well, but if I am put on the spot, I often freeze and don't know what to say. Ask me to translate or even have a conversation with me and my six years of Spanish mean nothing to me. 

However, walk into a room full of Hispanic children with smiles like Adrienne and everything changes.

Something about a child's willingness to express themselves without holding back makes me  a fluent Spanish speaker. No fear of saying the wrong thing. No fear of sounding stupid. No fear of miscommunication.

The great thing about kids too is that they are the BEST teachers. Most adults, in hopes to save face, let you make as many mistakes as you want. If you say mispronounce a word to a child, you will know it because they can't control their laughter. Kids don't get frustrated at your mistakes either. Since they are amused, your interactions can be longer. 

A nursery is a great classroom as well. All you have to do is point to a toy and say "Como se dice en espaƱol?" (How do you say?) and they will gladly tell you.  

Moral of the story?

First, if you want to learn another language, hang out with children who speak that language.

Second, maybe, we should also have the attitude of a child when approaching language and culture: LAUGH AT OUR MISTAKES. Maybe, if we worry less about what others think and express ourselves more freely like children do, we could learn any language quicker.

It all starts with a simple smile.

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