Monolingual Problems

by Kristi Van Dyk

Yesterday I needed to pass through the Mandarin K/1 classroom (during lunch) to get to my office (aka the closet space where we store the big iMac I use for video editing). 

Upon entering I was greeted by a chorus of sweet faced elementary students, rapidly firing questions at me in Mandarin. I did not know how to respond, so I giggled and waved. 

Sensing the problem, my little friend Zach switched languages and decided to attempt Spanish instead of Mandarin. 

Z: Hola!
Me: Hola, amigo! 
Z: Como estas?
Me: Bien, y tu?
Z: Bien ... 

Giggles all over the room ... more whispering in Mandarin, more trying to engage me in Mandarin ... 

Me: No entiendo, amigos, no entiendo tu Mandarin. 

Raucous laughter EVERYWHERE

I'm hilarious because I don't understand them, and I'm the grown up. Additionally, they can keep up with me in their 3rd language better than I can in what little I have of my 2nd. 

Their joy in it all is so very present. And thus, so is mine.

I <3 immersion.