I know we all have that same dream - that our students will actually embrace the language and learn to speak it for real. I often am treated to tales of how they heard and understood Spanish outside the classroom or, better yet, how they got to actually communicate in the language. But recently a student of mine, really went above and beyond.
April (not her real name) recently shared with me a story of how she used her Spanish outside of the classroom to make a difference. She said she was at a park and noticed a woman who was surrounded by a group of people and was crying. April said that she approached the woman when she noticed that she was speaking Spanish and that the crowd of onlookers was unable to understand her. The woman explained in Spanish that she had lost her son in the park and was not able to find him. Together they called the police and April translated for the woman and served as her liaison with the police. A description was made, the place he was last seen, what he was wearing . . . and the search was on for the child.
The boy was found, much to the teary-eyed relief of the mother and April said it was the most amazing experience. She said that when she was in the moment, she didn't need to think of conjugations or vocabulary at all, the language just flowed. She told me that she had a feeling of "Where did that come from?" but was too involved in the situation to slow down and worry about it. I would like to commend her here twice. First for her ability with the language which came from many hours of study and practice, and secondly for her courage to stand up and do something instead of holding back.
I know that many people might have stood back in self-doubt and not offered their help for fear that they might embarrass themselves or that their grasp of the language might not be good enough. But April jumped in without a thought for herself - simply with the aim to help a fellow human being. I simply could not be more proud of her. I feel blessed to be her teacher.