Fieldnote, 25 Feb. 2013

I helped only three students at the library this time, and they both attended the same school, another elementary just south of Versailles Road, but still in Mexington. This particular school I had never head of, but based on the interaction I had with Allen, a fourth grader, I learned about it. He was studying abbreviations for days of the week (Mon., Tue., Wed.), street directions (St., Hwy., Rd.), and also credentials for addressing people (Dr., Mr., Ms.). In order to help him understand some of the questions about place names, I pulled out my phone and opened up google maps. We located some of the streets near the area, and then we located what streets, drives, highways were in the area, and we noted how the abbreviations looked on the map.

I asked him where his school was, but he couldn’t tell me. I asked him the name of the school and I looked it up on the map. We found it, and then we recounted how he walked to school.

After I worked with him, another student from his school came for some assistance. She had math to do, a third grader. She worked on some sheets that covered fractions and decimals, and together we worked on some long addition and subtraction problems.

With both students I practiced some Spanish.

Finally I worked with Jonathan again. He began working with a high school volunteer, but then came to work with me because the tutor was not confident helping him with his homework in Spanish. Jon had to complete a worksheet on measuring that was in Spanish. I asked him to read me directions in Spanish, then to translate what he read into English. I realized after reading with him how difficult it was to sometimes revise interpretations of translation after literally extrapolating the meaning. He asked me what my thoughts were, and together we came up with English translations to his homework.

Later in the evening I was chatting with two sisters before I left. Near the door was some informational brochures from the City about registering children for Kindergarten. They were in Spanish and English. I picked up a Spanish one, and I asked the older sister to read it. She read the Spanish perfectly, with minimal help from me. When I asked her to give the English translation, however, she had some difficulty. She asked me to give my translation, which I did.

She walked over to the brochures and picked up the English version.

“Okay,” she said, “do it again, I’m going to check you.”

I gave her my translation.

“You were close, but here’s where you messed up.”

She demonstrated to me my mistranslation of “full-day.”

“That was a hard one,” I said.

“Sometimes it’s hard,” she said. “Because sometimes the words are backwards in English.”

I was struck that she said the words were backward in English. Spanish, then, was her reference language.

It was time for me to leave.

“Are you going to be back tomorrow?”

“I am,” I said.

“Maybe tomorrow we can practice more with traducing because I think it’s fun.”

Like Brenda from years ago, she used “traduce” the Spanish word for translate rather than the English word.

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