Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Am Translate

Parent/Teacher conferences were held citywide today in middle schools, and while mine was mostly uneventful, there was one story worth noting.

A woman came in to see me, and tagging along with her was an ESL student who speaks very little English. I invited them both in and asked them to sit.

I frequently get ESL parents in to see me who speak little or no English, so it was a relief to me when this boy, named Ling, said to me, "I am translate." So I started telling Ling what to tell his mother.

"Ling does most of his homework and is learning well," I said.

Ling dutifully translated, and the mom nodded.

I continued. "Ling should be working harder on his projects, though."

Again, a translation and a nod. This went on for about five minutes. Finally, the woman stood up, bowed, and left with Ling.

I waited a moment for the next parent to enter. To my surprise, Ling came back in the room, and this time, with a new woman in tow.

"Who is this?" I asked.

"This my mother," said Ling.

"Who was the woman I spoke to a moment ago?"

"I am translate," said Ling. Well, I couldn't argue with that. It never even occurred to me that the first woman wasn't Ling's mom. I still don't know who she was, but at least her child is doing well. At least, that's what Ling says.