My six years of Jr. High and High School Spanish have not held up well for me. While I was able to get around better during a few trips to Mexico, my Spanish is very poor. For instance, I never got the hang of past tense and future tense. I am only able to speak in the present. So much for “living in the NOW.”
Even so, recently I impressed all the teachers eating lunch in our cramped teachers “lounge” by calling my Spanish-speaking parents to let them know some important information. (These teachers weren’t actively eavesdropping—we practically sit on each other’s laps in the teacher’s lounge).
Here’s my tip (after the big buildup): I use a free online translation website to type what I want to say. This helps me correct my fuzzy Spanish. Sometimes I’ll get a Spanish-speaking student to check it over for me before I call.
The link I’ve provided offers translation between many languages including between English and Spanish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Russian and Italian. Also, it allows translations between and amongst these languages. Another feature is that you can compare the translation the website derives to one that Google Translator provides. This is another check that someone like myself who is not fluent might want to use as a double check.
If you use a translation website, be sure to remove any slang from the phrase you are typing in. I also try to insert the name of the student and polite remarks such as please and thank you to what I eventually say to parents.
I’m not saying the website provides a perfect translation, but I’ve always gotten my point across with non-English speaking parents. And I am planning to take Spanish again next year with the hope of organizing some much-needed free ESL classes for parents in our community. My secret hope is to learn how to make many foreign culinary delights and trade garden seeds. Sshh! Don’t tell.
Unfortunately, my school district doesn’t have translators or other professionals to help with the language divide. So foreign-speaking parents really appreciate when a teacher takes the extra time to get to know them and help their son or daughter.