Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guide to Being a Substitute Teacher: En Español

If you don't use it, you lose it, right? I subbed for a Spanish class today, and it was muy difícil. That means "very difficult," I learned. Languages have always been hard for me to master, but not for lack of effort. I mean, I am a Language Arts teacher, after all. I have more breadth than depth when it comes to foreign languages. I grew up with Urdu, studied Spanish and French in junior high and high school, and tried my tongue with Irish (not to be confused with Gaelic). The results? When I try to speak in any language other than English, it comes out sounding like a radio being tuned by a schizophrenic. I throw Spanish into my Urdu. I mix French with my English. When I try to pronounce something in Urdu, I use an Irish accent on all the wrong syllables and inevitably end up (unintentionally) insulting someone's mother or dog or shoes.

Not actually me. Might as well be.

So, I teach English. At least, that's what I was trained to do. I'm beginning to worry about losing my ability to teach at all, because, hey, if you don't use it, you lose it, right? While that phrase is typically associated with learning and practicing foreign languages, it seems like it might apply to any acquired skill, like knitting, or painting, or... teaching.

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