Funny Moments – Why I Love Middle Schoolers

My certificate is K-12 in both Iowa and Michigan, but when I went through my teacher prep classes the lower levels frightened me.  I always saw myself as a high school Spanish teacher because I thought it was the best of both worlds: they’re old enough to get my jokes and yet still working on elementary-type skills like colors, numbers, storytelling, etc.

However, this year I was given a group of Spanish 1 students that are 8th graders and I’ve come to absolutely LOVE middle schoolers this year.

Here’s are two funny stories as to why:

1.  I update a quizlet account of all the words we’ve “officially” learned in class.  The username I make the cards under is “eldentlinger” which represents my name.  While in the computer lab yesterday asked, “Why is it eldentlinger?  You’re not a guy!”

For non-Spanish teachers, el is the masculine form of “the.”  I chuckled, but it really shows these kids know their stuff and are in Spanish mode to catch something like that!

2. We were working with the song El Burrito de Belen.  There were a few activities we did before listening to the song to help us understand it, and one of the words we needed to know was “burrito” as I don’t officially teach an animal unit.  I told them “burro” was donkey, and asked them what it meant when we added “ito” onto the end of a word.  My 8th graders put it together that it meant “little donkey,” but what made the moment hilarious was when Student A asked, “So that’s what the mystery meat in the school’s burrito is!”

A little bit too literal in his thinking, but I couldn’t help but pause class to laugh with them.

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4 thoughts on “Funny Moments – Why I Love Middle Schoolers

  1. I have often wondered but not asked about how much English that you or any other World Language teacher allow their students to speak. I generally make it punitive in my classes to do so but it does not go over well with them. What are your thoughts?

    • Uy – In my honest opinion, this is something I want to be better at.

      For example, when first learning vocabulary I try to do it TPRS style but sometimes students have questions that simply cannot be answered in Spanish. Plus I like to make connections to other words (both Spanish and English). For example, I was trying to get Sp 1 to remember “juguetes” so I kept saying “juega con juguetes” and stressed the sounds that were similar. Some students got it, but others needed it emphasized in English to make the connection.

      Also, when reading, I think it’s better do have students read Spanish but answer English questions. Before, I couldn’t be sure if the student didn’t know because they couldn’t read well or because they couldn’t read the question. Although, after reading Mike Peto’s blog he did something interesting where he had students read, gave Spanish questions, and students answered in English. Interesting twist in my opinion – I just tried it, so I’ll have to let ya know how that goes.

      BUT, I will say this: I do NOT allow English during story time. Ideally it would last 2 days, some it doesn’t. Some days, I have students say a story as a group (one student says sentence 1, student two says sentence 2, etc.). When I give culture, it’s usually presented when learning new vocabulary but only in Spanish. The novels that TPRS sells along with reading a lot of materials by Martina Bex, Kristy Placido, etc. have made me more aware of the vocabulary I use with students. There are cognates I never knew about until I started scouring their supplies.

      After my midterm, I will say that this group of students speak MUCH better than any of my previous groups. I was sitting there listening to their stories and sometimes I was like, “Wow – I can’t believe they remember that word” because some of them are hard, they just don’t know it! For example, my Spanish 1s use reflexives without knowing it! They used vocab I taught, but not that was used in our stories. Some even use direct and indirect objects. I couldn’t have done what they are doing when I was in Sp 1.

      Hope that’s not too long, but I wanted to give an honest answer!

  2. My kids actually police themselves because I give them “inglés” clothespins. When they hear any of their classmates speak English, they all go “¡Inglés!” and one of them takes the clothespin of the English speaker. The goal is to make sure you have a clothespin by the end of the activity or you have to answer a vocab/grammar question in front of everyone. They have told me that it really makes them recognize how much they rely on English. To help them, I stole your desk bulletin board idea and have game language in the middle that they often use (it’s so nice hearing them yell tramposo/a instead of cheater!)

    • I love your clothespin idea! I am definitely going to borrow that starting next week. Thank you so much for sharing with me!

      I’m curious – how well do your desk signs hold up? Mine lasted a month or so before taking severe damage. I’d love to put them back if I could be guaranteed that they’d last longer.

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