Usually Girls Work At Home: Disclaiming The Myth

As an ESL teacher who also teaches Spanish, I take every opportunity to teach beyond the language; especially to my kid students.

We were learning about family members in Spanish. My student typed out, “Usually girls work at home and boys work.” I asked her why she believes this, and she said it’s because it is how her family is.

I told her no, actually some girls also work or are the only ones who work in the family. That day I taught her how to say, “Girls are strong” and “I am strong” in Spanish. Girls don’t have to follow traditional gender roles. They can be strong and make their own money.

Kids need to learn that families don’t always look like the ones they grow up in or the ones that their friends have. In some families, the mom works while the dad stays at home. In other families, both parents work. Sometimes there are babysitters. Sometimes the babysitters are the grandparents.

Some families have only one parent. Others have two parents who are fathers. Others still have two parents who happen to both be female. Sometimes the aunt or uncle act as the parent. Or the neighbour is more of a parent than the real parents.

Teach kids diversity in family so they are not surprised or judgemental when they see families which differ from their own. It is incredibly easy and natural to think that the whole world operates like your personal world does.

Nonetheless I believe it is tremendously valuable to open children’s minds at a young age so they can grow into caring, unbiased, prejudice-free adults. It is OK if your family doesn’t look like most families do in the Hollywood movies. In fact, most of the time they won’t.

Learning A New Language Equals A New Life

Languages amaze me.

I’m the person who, while on a busy street, will be listening to conversations in languages I don’t understand. Especially when travelling or living in the NY tristate area(where there’s such big diversity), knowing more than one language is essential to communicating with a wider range of people.

When there is a language barrier in either of the people, the conversation is usually a little bit fumbly, a little bit guarded, and much more focused on simply understanding instead of having good conversation.

I remember being in a taxi cab from 1945 in Cuba and casually asking the driver how his day was. After a few minutes we realized that he is from Guyana which is the neighboring country to where I was born. Apart from that, he spoke portuguese! I was so excited when he said that so that we could stop struggling through an English conversation. I speak basic portuguese but I love practicing it with strangers. We got along so well that he charged us a lower fare for bringing us to the airport. Had I not known Portuguese, the conversation would not have been the same.

Another instance was when I was working at a daycare in the 3-4 year old room. There was a very small, very shy indian boy. While everyone was playing in their different stations, I went up to him and started helping him put together a puzzle. When I was putting in the red puzzle piece, he said, “Rojo”. I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I immediately asked him how to say the other colors, which he said perfectly, and asked him how he knew spanish. He said him and his sister have a private spanish tutor. Obviously he became one of my favorite students in class.

Life and how you interact with it really opens up when you learn that your native language is not the one that everybody necessarily speaks. It is hard to stay focused on learning a language, especially when virtually nobody around you speaks it…but the benefits are endless.

I think the key to really learning is repetition and practice. You need to keep seeing a word out in the world in different contexts before you can remember it enough to use it yourself. Ways I am doing that with Portuguese and French are listening to music, watching movies,using a textbook from college and using DuoLingo.

Are you learning English? Email me for remote private lessons or via facetime/skype sessions! I teach my students how to succeed; not stuck behind a textbook but during real conversations, important interviews, at the workplace, when meeting a new partner’s family or when moving to an English speaking country.

I love my students and teach around the world thanks to the magic that is working remotely. Looking forward to meeting you!