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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

January 15, 2005

Two Spiders

Kids Many years ago while I was teaching a preschool class, I was pointing to the ABC chart with the children reciting the ABCS after me. Suddenly Jun (a four-year-old boy) interrupted me saying, "Spider! Spider!" I looked at him and smiled. I guessed he wanted me to sing "The Eentsy-Weentsy Spider" song, his favorite. I motioned for him to wait and I continued with the ABCs, because I did not want to skip a beat in terms of keeping the rest of the class within my hold.

Even though I was his preschool English teacher, he was my preschool English learning mentor.

But as soon as I started again, he shouted out again, "Spider!" and got my attention by pointing to a space on the wall above the ABC chart. I turned around and to my amazement there was a small spider making its way across the wall. I stopped for a moment, smiled again, pointed to the spider, acknowledged his discovery and said, "Yes, Jun, it is a spider." And I continued with the ABCs.

A few moments later he shouted out, "Sensei, sensei! Two spiders!" I stopped, turned around and looked at the wall and, sure enough, there were two small spiders crawling across its surface. The other children understood and also looked at the spiders. The class did not lose a beat in terms of tempo because the other children, too, not only understood his English but were also interested in his find.

I turned in amazement and looked at this boy named Jun who was beaming with his discovery. How did this little child who had learned his ABCs and his numbers and the "Eentsy Weentsy Spider" song in my class put it all together? How did he have the confidence to interrupt me in English? How did he know how to put the number "two" in front of the noun "spider" without my teaching him how to do that? That moment was a tremendously profound one in my teaching career. Tears filled my eyes as I gazed at the wonder and majesty of childhood. I sat there in awe of him. Such is one example of the precious outcome of teaching English in Japan.

Jun is an adult now. We have lost contact, so I do not know where he is, what he is doing or even if he continued with his English studies. I like to believe that he is an English speaker. But one thing is for sure. Even though I was his preschool English teacher, he was my preschool English learning mentor. He taught me to never underestimate the ability of a child.



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