I had an amazing learning experience when I attended the Christian House of Prayer to watch a play that was a part of the Women With a Purpose conference. I learned a lot about the women in the Bible and a lot about myself.
As I was watching the play at CHOP, I realized I did not know at least 80 percent of the stories written in the Bible. Antuan, my boyfriend, had heard of all the stories and joked that I was a heathen.
I did not go to church on a regular basis with my family as a child and when we did, we went to mass spoken in Spanish. Have I mentioned that I am not bilingual? I would just listen to the priest and let my own thoughts capture my mind. I remember trying to translate the priest’s words in my head but it was too complicated at the time.
I wonder how my mother ever expected me to follow the word of the Lord if I did not know the word of the Lord. I just knew to behave and to not do anything that would upset my parents.
I went even deeper with my thoughts. I started to wonder how we educators, parents, tutors, etc., expect a child to learn if we do not take the extra time to teach them the basics of the English language.
It is a difficult task, but it must be done for the child’s sake. We have to incorporate the vocabulary terms used in the classroom at home, in therapy sessions, at the playground, mall, anywhere. And we have to do this every day.
I sometimes catch myself getting carried away when I speak to my students. I know I tend to use big vocabulary words or I become overly passionate about the topic and go on and on with my thoughts.
“Do y’all understand?” I’ll ask my wide-eyed or maybe even sleepy-eyed students.
I then have to go back and find out where I lost them. I have to make sure what I’m saying is relatable to my young students. I have to make sure they understand the language that I’m using. I sometimes have to define a word within the definition to make sure they understand. But I will not move on until the topic is understood by every student.
I use a lot of books during my speech therapy sessions, which allows for conversation, exposure to new words, and a better reading comprehension. I sometimes feel like I am a reading teacher, but I know discussing the readings in depth really does help with a child’s speech and language.
Peggy Modglin and Tom Parton, licensed speech-language pathologists, stated in a course for speech therapists, Reading Comprehension in Secondary Students: Intervention, “Reading comprehension requires the reader to make sense of the words based on their prior knowledge and linguistic development.”
We can continue to use books and passages to help students learn, but let’s not forget to ensure their understanding of the readings by knowing their vocabulary level and relating it to their young minds.