June 29, 2010

Kindergarten Graduation – June 25, 2010

It’s that time of year again. Kindergarten graduation time. This year, at Giraffe, I have had the pleasure of once again being the English teacher to a few little kids. Justin, Nadia, Andrew, Nunu, and Anita.

Of these five kids, four are graduating. In September, they will be going on to elementary school. As far as I know, they will be starting Grade 1. They are: Justin, Nadia, Andrew, and Nunu.

Perhaps in my ‘older’ age, my memory is becoming a bit shaky, but for some reason, Nadia seems to have been in the kindergarten class the longest. I’ve been teaching the kindergarten classes at Giraffe for 4 years now, and it a) doesn’t seem that long, and b) Nadia has been there since day 1!

Her mother is one of the teachers at Giraffe as well, Teacher Christine. I sort of look up to Christine as the ‘Head Teacher’ of the bushiban. I’m not sure that she actually has that title, but whenever I need to know something, or have a question answered, if Janice is not there, then Christine, TO ME, is the next in line! However, this blog is not about Christine – it is about her daughter.

From the beginning, Nadia was pretty smart. It didn’t really take her long to ‘warm up’ to me, as it usually takes most children. Little kids, especially, take a few classes before they get used to a new teacher – foreigner or local. Nadia, however, didn’t really have that problem. She seemed comfortable with me right from the beginning.

I have had the pleasure, as with all the kindergarten students, of watching them learn. They start off knowing a little bit – numbers, alphabet, colours – and then watching them progress over their 3 or 4 years into being able to answer questions, write, and even colour INSIDE the lines!!

Nadia was always a perfectionist. She seemed to take care and pride in what she did, whether it be answering a question, colouring a page, or printing her name. Perhaps that goes back to her mother. I believe that mom either speaks in English with her at home, perhaps not all the time, but enough, or teaches her. Either way, Nadia is going to be an incredible kid!

As other children have joined the kindergarten class over the years, Nadia has sort of taken on the role as ‘mom’! She helps the new children by becoming their friend. She helps them to answer questions. She even translates at times!! This kid is only 7 years old and is better at translation than me! I couldn’t translate a sentence from English to Chinese if my life depended on it. So, in some ways, she is my ‘shiao loushe’ (little teacher).

She always seems to have fun during my class – no matter what I want them to do. She always has a smile and hug for me. Again, I hope she carries on this love of learning English for a long time.

In the past year, I have seen an incredible increase in her English abilities. Perhaps it’s just part of getting older, but she is able to talk with me in English a lot more than in years past. In fact, she also competed this year in Giraffe’s Storytelling contest.

At the school level, she was chosen as the number one storyteller for her age group, with a story called, “Froggy Gets Dressed”. Again, a lot of credit must be given to her mom, Christine, because I’m sure she practices this story a hundred times a day at home! She knows the story inside and out. Does she understand the story? I’m sure she does. Listening to her practice runs these past couple of weeks, she must know what the story is all about.

I’m sure, she will be the number 1 winner in Taipei in August for the national finals. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the finals last year, however, the year before, the winner at her level, in comparison, was just okay, in my opinion. The little girl that won 1st place did a really cute story, but nothing compared to the story that Nadia is telling.

Nadia, when you’re older and able to understand this blog entry, I hope you realize just how proud I really am of you! I know that your mother as well as the other teachers at Giraffe are proud of what you have accomplished. Learning a second language is difficult, I know, but to learn another language that has no comparison to your mother tongue, is an even greater accomplishment.

You’ve made me laugh… you’ve made me proud… you’ve helped other students… you’ve been an inspiration… Don’t ever give up that ‘joie de vivre’ and joy of learning. I wish all the best in this year’s Storytelling Contest in Taipei. I believe, from the pit of my soul, that you are going to walk away with First Place. I also hope, that in the years to come, you will compete again. I also hope, that I will continue to be your foreign English teacher.

You are on the path to a wonderful adventure. Don’t ever lose that spirit you have. You are one of the fortunate few who have a parent (mom) who speaks and teaches English. Practice with mom. Practice with me. Don’t ever become ‘shy’ to speak to anyone in English.

I truly look forward to continuing the friendship you and I have. And good luck, and best wishes in all your future endeavors!


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