The visit from the previous week is what I will be covering in this post. During this visit we brought fridge magnet letters, and they were a big hit with the family. The children loved them because they had something they could tangibly see (and chew on) but more importantly they could really get familiar with the shapes of letters and work on putting them together without using pen and paper. We decided that spelling out words and then showing them would be the best way to teach today, so we decided to start with verbs and then we moved on to other objects. We spent a good portion of time teaching the mother, but decided that we should also include the four year old in on the learning, so we had both of them learning at the same time. We taught the four year old the word no, and she loved it. In fact, she loved it so much she decided to say it over 25 more times in the next 10 minutes when we would ask her things. It was a little annoying but it was extremely cute, and hey, at least she’s understanding some more English. Another thing that we decided to do near the end of the visit was have the mother use the words to teach her daughter, we decided that since we’re not always going to be there to help them, we should give her the tools to teach her daughter and really advance the learning process.
The last thing we decided to teach during this visit was colors, and it was a huge headache. At first there was a lot of confusion, I was wearing a blue hoodie and Anna was wearing a green one, so we though it would be an easy place to start with colors. Initially, when I tried explaining it to her, the color blue was replacing hoodie, and the color green was replacing blue, etc. Anna figured out that grouping the fridge magnets by their colors and then teaching them would be a better opportunity and the mom really started to understand when we did that. Without Anna, I don’t think I would have gotten the idea of colors across. When we left, she didn’t have all of the colors down, but we don’t expect her to memorize everything in one night.
Til next time,
Three weeks ago we showed up and things were like they always were. Our families children were running around and enjoying company while we were trying to teach the mother certain things. This week we had decided that we wanted to tackle the concept of time and how to read clocks. This took about 25 minutes, but we believe that when we left she had figured out certain things. We were able to ask her when she did certain activities that were listed out on a sheet and she was able to respond to them. She also had a great time telling us about her day, how it takes ten minutes for her to walk to her ELL class and how it takes about an hour for her to get dinner ready as well as get ready in the morning. There was a certain glow about her as she was finally feeling that connection with us and we enjoyed just hearing stories about her days since she has been in America.
This post also contains the visit from two weeks ago. When we showed up to the family during this visit we first noticed that there were some things moved around from the main area of the apartment. The room looked emptier than it had before, but we just assumed that they had rearranged the apartment again. Her children were asleep in the room over and she had the room closed, so we tried to remain silent as to not wake them. During the visit, we didn’t have a set routine of what we wanted to cover, we had her grab the books and papers that she had received in her ELL class and we just started going over things that she had been working on. Following suit from the last visit, we decided to try and have a conversation with her without the interruptions of her children. We asked her all sorts of questions about what she ate, how she got to America, what she likes about the city, what she had done in the city, etc. She had the same glow that she had a week ago speaking to us and we were just enjoying finding out so much more about the family. We still haven’t seen much of the father but we assume that he has been working at the Tyson plant. Her ELL classes have been helping out so much and we believe that there has been a real difference since when she first arrived.
As usual when we arrived at the home of our refugee family we were greeted with smiles and a stack of homework. The older children in the family have mostly math homework which is impossible to understand if you don’t speak English. They don’t have much problem with their English homework because whatever they don’t understand they just look up in a Karen to English dictionary. That being said they all still need a little bit of work on grammar and sentence structure. After we finished all of the homework we opened up a picture dictionary and encyclopedia which we used to help the family with English vocabulary. The book has lists of foods, places, clothes and even maps. The entire family sat around the one table they have in the living room as we went through what the English words were for various pictures. They family became especially intrigued as we went through the photos of animals from around the world. Every time we would give them the English translation for an animal they would tell us the Karen word for the same animal. The entire family giggled as my partner and I tried to pronounce the Karen words, it must have felt good to know that they weren’t the only ones who struggled with a foreign language. After an hour or so of laughs we closed the book and said our goodbyes for the week hoping our memorable night of fun would help the family with memorizing vocabulary.