Who really needs to know Spanish when there is a soccer ball around? The moment our Chilean host, Jorge, brought out the pelota, I heard boisterous giggles instead of timid mumbles coming from the patio. They had embarked on a game of two-on-two; my daughter and Jorge, against my husband and son. For the time being, the kids totally forgot that there was a language barrier. My four year-old daughter shouted orders in English at Jorge, who responded with smiles and a good-faith effort to follow the coaching he couldn’t understand.
In Chile, even Dora the Explorer and the Powerpuff Girls speak Castellano. And since we’re here, staying with friends who do not know more than a few words of our language, it seems there is a bit of a shock–especially for my usually gregarious and extroverted four year old.
Little by little, she’s warming up though. She now has the word “chocolate” down (the Spanish pronunciation, that is) and she doesn’t hesitate to use it morning and night to solicit treats. “What does vamos mean?” She asked the other day. “Jorge is always saying vamos.” A few hours latter, my husband told me she gave her older brother an order, then followed up with “vamos.”
And today, she met a Chilean girl–maybe about 13 years-old–on a tour of a penguin reserve. At first, my daughter marveled at the girl’s large, brightly-colored earrings. Then she followed the girl and her mom around the reserve. On the bus ride home the mother moved over to offer my daughter a seat next to the tween. The two girls shared almost no understanding of the other’s vocabulary, but great interest in the brief friendship that formed.
Don’t get me wrong–I really want my kids to learn Spanish to open possibilities they don’t even know exist. But as for today, who needed to know Spanish when there were smiles to be given and crayons to be shared?