Advice with Multilingual Sunday School Class


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone!

I need some advice. I teach a Primary class for 5- and 6-year-olds. Recently, a family moved into our ward with their 5-year-old girl, Nina (name changed, privacy, all that). She only speaks Spanish, and she's too young to be in Kindergarten, so I don't think she's learning English in school, either.

I feel really bad because I speak approximately *no* Spanish (I've got "Hola" and that's about it) and the other little kids don't speak any Spanish either. So basically I'm just some strange woman in a strange classroom that speaks to her in a language she doesn't understand for an hour, which makes me sad.

I make an effort to smile and make sure she's included in games and activities, but I'm not sure how to reach out to her and make her feel welcome, loved, and happy.

So -- if anyone has suggestions on how to teach a multilingual classroom or how to learn Spanish for the purpose of teaching these classes, your comments are very welcome!

Thank you so much. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A child's brain is designed to learn language. As we get older our brain loses it's ability (can be done, just harder). That is one of the big complaints with the american educational system, waiting until high school to introduce other language is a disservice.

She will learn very quickly, much more so than you.

I would try to incorporate both languages into the lesson. If you are doing a lesson on faith learn "faith" in spanish and teach it to everyone, while teaching her the english. The church has all it's materials in both languages, download mp3's of primary songs in spanish. Let the kids learn them both ways. Pictures don't need language, use a lot of pictures with everything you talk about. Involve the parents, get them to teach you the primary songs in spanish. Are there other members in the ward that know spanish? Call an assistant to help you. Let the learning go both ways.

Sounds like a really fun opportunity for everyone in the class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreed with Gwen.

What a fantastic learning opportunity for everyone. Kids are like sponges (you know the saying) and pickup most everything around them effortlessly. I think learning some of the primary songs in Spanish would be a lot of fun. I remember learning several primary songs in ASL and having a blast with that--still know them today :) Like already mentioned, pictures tell stories that words cannot describe, so use a lot of visual aides. Anymore, I'd imagine most wards have or know someone that speaks some Spanish and can be of help. When I was about her age, my family moved to Portugal and my father was the only one that spoke Portuguese. We were there for a couple years and endured Sunday services in Portuguese -- mum struggled terribly but my siblings and I picked up a lot of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My kids, age 9 and 11, are currently attending Church in a foreign country. The Primary lessons are taught in the local dialect. The primary songs are from the Children's Songbook in English. After Primary, I ask the kids what they learned and they can tell me exactly what the lesson is all about. Yes, children (especially the younger ones) grasp language by context, so even if they don't speak a lick of the language, they can understand you by all the other contextual clues. All the names of the characters in the lessons are the same - Jesus, Nephi, Alma, Abraham, etc. and so they get a lot of context from those. And then the similar sounding words like Holy Spirit for Espiritu is easy for them to catch when they get the context, etc.

So, don't worry about not knowing how to teach in Spanish. Use lots of pictures and try to supply lots of contextual clues - like actions and facial expressions.

Edited by anatess
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Use flannel-graph's to tell the stories. You can get sets with every Bible character, including backdrops for the stories in many Christian bookstores. If you can't find them you can find pictures you can print from the computer and glue onto felt.

Here's a site where you can get them. It is pricey, but I bet the church would reimburse you.

Large Basic Set (English)

Edited by Irishcolleen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello everyone!

I tried out some of your suggestions this week, and I thought I'd let you know how it turned out. But first of all, a warm thank you to everyone who contributed thoughts and comments. I really appreciated them. :)

This week's lesson was about blessings. There were word strips (with things such as "The Gift of the Holy Ghost") on them, and a story, etc. Each word strip, I wrote out the English and the Spanish underneath, and when we would get to putting up the word strip I would say both the English and the Spanish (happily, Spanish is close enough to Italian that my pronunciation is fairly good, even when I don't know exactly what I'm when I came prepared, I was fine!).

In addition, we learned the 4th Article of Faith in both English and Spanish. I would have the kids recite a small portion of it in English, and then redo the same portion in Spanish. It was fun, and got her and everyone else involved in speaking her native language! I thought that was a really fun activity.

I also went with your guys' suggestion to make sure to use plenty of pictures. I used a lot of pictures in my lesson (we talked about Enos, baptism, confirmation, etc) and I learned enough "keywords" in Spanish before Sunday that we could talk about those subjects.

The Church has so many resources!

Again, thanks for all your suggestions, and I'm sure I'll continue to look at this thread whenever I run into problems or stagnation. But already today, she was more talkative than she'd ever been before and seemed to follow along much better with the lesson. One of the parents of the kids in my class also speaks Spanish, and since his child frequently refuses to be in Primary without his dad, his dad is in my class many Sundays as well. Happy coincidence (or...blessing in disguise :) )

Thanks again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.