“Manos arriba!” (“Hands up!”) This is the command given in every class for the beginning of the immersion (English only) part of class at the Honduras Child Alliance. The students and volunteers stand in a circle and then go through a series of motions in Spanish before we “change the language” to English while rubbing the sides of our head. It is a challenge to speak only English during the immersion activity, especially when many students do not understand what we are saying. We often slip into Spanish without realizing it and have to remind each other “English only.”
Before the immersion activity, each class starts with a fifteen-minute game time. Students and volunteers sit and play in small groups. Today I was the monkey in the middle and six boys had a hilarious time trying to keep the ball from me. It was fun, but everyone’s clothes were soaked in sweat by the end. Next time, I think I’ll do a puzzle.
Next, comes circle time when we officially start the class. Sitting on the floor, we all answer a question of the day in English and introduce ourselves. Students are in the habit of saying their age as well and from the looks on their faces, I don’t think they’ve ever heard the number 51 before.
At the end of immersion, we change the language back to Spanish before starting snack time. Students wash their hands and are given a healthy homemade snack in every class.
After washing their cups, we gather again in smaller groups and the students rotate through three activities to reinforce both English and Spanish literacy.
Class ends with everyone’s hands in the middle, reviewing the time of the next class and chanting the name of the class.
These routines help each class to run smoothly. The students know the routines and with so many volunteers coming and going, it helps to have a solid structure to each class. I quickly learned the routines myself and depend on them to have a successful two-hour class with very excited children.