Monday, November 5, 2007

Milk, Zippers, and other English things...

I work in an English-German kindergarten. I do everything a normal German kindergarten teacher would do: help cut up Würstchen, make sure the room has frische Luft, build Sankt Martin lanterns... and of course, zip up jackets...except I do it all in English. A couple of the kids are English native speakers, a couple of them are language wizzes...but most of the time they just tilt their head and try to interpret the one, two words they do understand.

Ok, that would be underestimating them. They know a lot of sentences. "I'm finished!" "clean up" "please" "thank you" and "sorry"... and I require them to learn the somewhat more difficult construction "could you please zip my jacket?" Of course, these sentences appear in many versions, like "dank you" and "ich bin finished", and "could you please zip my jacket" often comes out as "could you please my y-ack-uh zip?" But they're learning and they're charming.

One of my favorite moments was with a girl in my group last year. We have müsli day and if they would like milk added to their bown of oats and dried fruit, they have to ask, and I like them to ask in English. I accept many forms, I basically expect at least the words "milk" and "please" to appear. On one particular day a girl from my group was standing in front of me holding her bowl out. "What would you like?" I asked. "Milk" she whispered quietly. "What milk?" I replied. Where? Milk here? Milk for me? (getting 4 year old to talk in full sentences can be a tedious process) She shifted her weight back and forth, scrunched her brow in concentration, trying to recall the right sentence from somewhere back in her brain. Suddenly, her eyes lit up. She smiled, looked me in the eyes, held out her bowl and asked proudly and loudly

"Can you please zip my milk?"

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