Alli Chishi Mashikuna

Once upon a time there was a high school ESL teacher who couldn’t understand why so many of her students from Ecuador had such a hard time in their native speaker Spanish classes. Native Spanish speakers take Living Environment and Common Core Algebra as bilingual classes. So this teacher tried and tried and tried and tried to help her students. But they still had so many problems. After a long, long time (don’t worry my posts are short so I’ll wrap this up soon) this teacher realized that THEY DIDN’T SPEAK SPANISH AS THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE!!! Whaaaaaa?

The beautiful language that so many of our Ecuadorian students speak is Kichwa. As Spanish is a language based on the Roman language of Latin, Kichwa is a language based on the Incan language of Quechua. My understanding is that as Latin is no longer a spoken language, neither is the Incan language of the original Quechua. The Quechua spoken today in Perú, Bolivia, Chile (I’m getting into I’m-not-100%-sure territory here) is also derived from the original Quechua language.

Anywho….I became obsessed, and am still obsessed with the language and culture of Ecuador’s Kichwa-speaking communities/students/kids. And learning Kichwa has been like a key into this community and has given me a much better understanding of the needs of our ESL kids. Gee, I’ve stopped talking about myself in the 3rd person. Our Ecuadorian students from remote areas have difficulty in English because they are learning Spanish and English at the same time. But it’s getting better. Because I finally get it. The teacher is learning from the students as the students are learning from the teacher. Yupaychani yachakukuna.#mashikuna #whydidittakesolongtofigurethisout

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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One Response to Alli Chishi Mashikuna

  1. Pingback: Quechuakuna: Barbara Knowles, ESL Teacher | The New York Quechua Initiative

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