By Klara Kramer
When I came to Sucre – Bolivia, I couldn’t speak Spanish at all… Or wait… I could say “Hola”, “Qué tal?” and the numbers from one to ten. So not really a good base to work in a school with children who sometimes can’t speak perfectly neither because of their age, or children who can’t understand that you speak another language than Spanish at home.
So, my first weeks in the school where really hard, but I think also funny for the students and the teachers, who tried to understand what I was talking about. Mostly I tried to be with the English teacher, so I could talk in English and she could translate what I didn’t understand. Yes, I agree, this was the easiest way and also the most comfortable. But also like this I learned more and more English.
Harder was it when I was in the Kindergarden, in the group with the youngest children. They accept you as a teacher in one day, and so they also start to tell you histories like: “My grandma went with me to the church, my dog ate a stone and I don’t like vegetables but today is Monday.” Can you imagine hearing such histories in a child language AND in Spanish?! Mostly I could just answer in changing my face expression related to the gests and the expressions of the child in front of me.
We had one week of Spanish lessons and also with the time in the school I learned more and more words, more and more grammar. Also going out (of course learning how to dance Salsa), and meeting new people helped me a lot in improving my Spanish, because most of the people here doesn’t speak another language than Castellano. Now, after six month in Bolivia, I can say that I speak fluently and also, that now I love my work in the school.
The whole week I’m working in the Kindergarden and even if it’s sometimes really hard to stand all the noise in a big group of monsters (but really like them though!), I wouldn’t change to work with older ones. Now I can understand all the funny but sometimes also serious or sad histories of the children, I can make jokes with them, I can dry their tears, and I can animate them to do their work or get serious if they don’t behave. My Spanish is good enough that the teachers asked me to give German lessons in the three groups of the Kindergarden.
I can’t say how happy I am that my Spanish improved so much that I can have a responsible job in the school, that I can have conversations with the people around me and that I can ask, express or explain almost everything what I want to. Even if the start was hard, since some month I can completely enjoy my live here in the other side of the world, and knowing the language is one of the main reasons.