By: Becca Hurliman
Learning is fun. Stopping by the 1st grade class is a good reminder of how exciting learning can be – and I find myself feeling that learning the names of food is possibly the best thing in the world.
It’s an active process. It takes place at tables while sitting in plastic chairs, but sometimes to remember how to say “chicken” it helps to jump up and down. Or maybe play a round of fruit salad to learn the names of fruits. We describe how mamón chino looks, and we taste plátanos, and we feel pineapple. We pretend we are at a grocery store trying to buy all the food we need and it’s the most thrilling trip to a grocery store I’ve ever taken.
It takes repetition. Is rice small, or big? Rice is small. Small. Pequeño. Small. It is small. Pictures of food are placed on the floor, and questions are asked – “Where is the potato?” “Where is the sugar?” “Where’s the bread?” Seven pairs of bare feet run to pictures in all different directions in confusion, but eventually they start running as a group as the game goes on. I play a game of memory with Tatiana, who arrived early to class; she likes ice cream but doesn’t like peas. She finds the “rice” cards on the first turn, but I get the “coffee” ones a bit later.
It is challenging. Everything becomes a game, and everything can be a competition. Who can remember what huevos is in English? Who can spell “tomato” the fastest? Words are easily forgotten unless they are used enough, and sometimes it’s easy to think that cebolla means mushroom. So we make another pizza out of construction paper, pretending we are chefs, and say “onion” again and again.