I've noticed in a number of classes that there are older children within a classroom grade level because they are learning English. A few weeks ago I was in a first grade class. One Hispanic boy was about a year older than the rest of his classmates. He wasn't much bigger in stature, but you could tell he was more mature. He was also very personable in his demeanor even though he was lacking in English skills.
That morning after first recess, he came running breathlessly into the classroom. He was so intent on telling me something that had happened on the playground. He was panting and gasping for air as he said, "Teacher . . . uh . . . este . . ." and then another word in English and then as he said another word in Spanish, he would stammer as he tried to think of how to say it in English. He was feeling quite frustrated trying to express himself going back and forth between two languages, but I was down on one knee, looking at him, and concentrating on the words he said. He was so concerned. I really wanted to know what he was trying to say.
I could see this little boy was obviously going through one of those moments we've all experienced - when you just really want to tell about something you're going through or something that has happened and in the telling you are hoping that person will understand, and in that understanding you will find comfort concerning your situation.
Well, I didn't understand his words, but I was at least confident that he hadn't been injured. As he continued to try and express himself, he became more calm and his breathing became more even. He knew I was listening and at least trying to understand. I looked him in the eye and patted his shoulder and in English assured him that everything would be all right. He took a deep breath and seemed to be content - at least that's my version of the story.
If I could have spoken in Spanish, I would have told him how impressed I was with his effort to try and speak English. How brave he was trying to fit in to his new American culture. I thought he was awesome! He won't have any problem making his way in America. His vibrant spirit came shining through no matter what language he was speaking, English will come. He was responsible, diligent, and wanted to do what is right. . . . Maybe I communicated all that better than I think.
Love One Another
As I have loved you
Love one another.
This new commandment:
Love one another.
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples,
If ye have love
One to another.
Words: Luacine Clark Fox, 1914–2002
Music: Luacine Clark Fox, 1914–2002; arr. by Jo Marie Borgeson Bray, 1925–1998© 1961 by Luacine C. Fox. Copyright renewed 1989.
Arr. and obbligato © 1978 IRI. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial church or home use.
From Mormon Messages in English, "Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time", by Elder Quentin L. Cook :