When I was in college, I signed up to lead a Saturday morning Bible club for elementary school kids in an underprivileged neighborhood. I showed up on the first Saturday and discovered that nearly all of the kids exclusively spoke Spanish. I had to scramble to translate my lesson on the spot…but fortunately, I knew enough Spanish that I (mostly!) could. I had a few take-aways from this experience: 1. If you can speak Spanish, God will give you opportunities to do so, 2. I could communicate a lot more than I thought I could, especially when I geared the story to a young audience, 3. it would not have worked for me to use a Spanish dictionary to look up words in the middle of teaching these kids. I had to use the limited words I already knew in a creative way to get my point across…and that was a skill I needed to hone.
Fast forward several (many?) years into my Spanish I classroom. Last week my Spanish I students turned in their Bible story projects, during which they retold Bible stories in simple language, geared toward children, almost exclusively using words they’d learned so far in Spanish I. As they presented, they incorporated a creative element into their project, designed to grab and keep attention—a craft, a visual aid, a puppet show or movie—and told the story as if to a group of young kids.
I love these projects and presentations. It’s always so amazing to see how my students can work around their limitations in order to communicate, just as I did so many years ago. (Side note: I have to say, I love doing the crafts as well! When else am I going to get to sew a tie-dye dog or put a whale in a Bell-jar ocean?)
I’ve heard from my Spanish class graduates that doing this project has come in handy later—on mission trips, for example, but also in building confidence in their own ability to communicate. I hope they enjoyed the project half as much as I did!