By Alice Lapuerta
I have decided that my kids are going to be fluent Spanish speakers after all. My kids are going to be balanced trilinguals! Hooray! We’ve been saved…
…by a toy.
It’s one of those supremely annoying toys that in my still sane, pre-motherhood, single life I’d never even have touched with a 10-meter pole. It is one of those things that I used to swear (in my still innocent, naïve pre-kids days) I would never, ever, EVER have in my house. I would take a look at it and RUN.
Why? Because it’s loud, it plays one of those terribly shrill clinkering tunes that keep ringing on in your ears forever, and you will never be able to get the melody out of your brain, ever.
You will walk down the street and hum the melody to yourself collecting odd stares from strangers, who now not only think you are a Zuagroasta, but a crazy one as well.
These toys come in shrill, clashing colors that offend an adultish taste. It is plastic. And it is virtually indestructible. So let this thing into your house, and you will have to listen to it for the next hundred years, from early morning to late at night. In short, these toys have been designed by evil-minded capitalists to drive parents INSANE.
Along comes The Hubby, returning from one of his trips to Ecuador, bringing along one of those toys. His sister gave it to us, specifically for Dominik, he explains, as a present. Bless her! I gasp.
I looked at it with mistrust. Then I opened the lid. Carefully. Off goes the jangling tune. Argh!
My mouth drops open. This thing actually speaks! And not just any language, no. It speaks Spanish! Now, isn’t that cool!
You pop in any of the 30 random cards that come with it, and learn along.
“Spell avion,” it commands, in Spanish. I type it. A-v-i-o-n.
“Muy bien!” the computer lauds. I beam.
“Donde esta el avion?” OK, so now it wants me to tell him where the airplane is. I type my response.
“No es correcto!” he snaps. Amazing!
“Hey Mami, this is MINE!” protests my son. “Give it to me!”
“Later, later, “ I mumble, too busy trying to spell “maleta”.
I am fascinated. I am enchanted. I am EXCITED! This computer is going to help us in our Spanish acquisition!
And my kids take to it like bees to honey.
“Mami, I need to work on the computer now,” Dominik tells me in an important voice, first thing in the morning. He puts the computer on the table, next to my laptop, inserts a card, and learns how to spell “cuchillo”.
Thanks to this little magical computer, Dominik has increased his Spanish vocabulary repertoire tremendously! And virtually overnight, too!
Dominik is particularly excited about getting things WRONG. He laughs delightedly every time the computer says, “No es correcto!”
“No es correcto,” he has added to his repertoire of phrases. He plays with his Thomas-train. “No es correcto,” he sings, when he discovers that he’s wrongly placed a rail.
Thanks to this little computer, Dominik can also speak, and spell correctly the following words: horno, cacerola, cuchara, cuchillo.
Except, I do wish that he’d kind of move on to another card, like the airport, for example.
What’s so exciting about learning all about kitchenware, I wonder?