Sometimes All It Takes Is a Word or Two

Knowledge flows in more than one direction at school. It’s a place where everyone learns and everyone teaches.

Today a student asked me to help him and I said, in my best accent of Mexican Spanish, “No problema.”

His face told me he didn’t know the meaning of the words.

Adults who don’t understand the meaning of foreign words can stare at you blankly, or with a puzzled expression.

A child, however, can look quizzical. And that’s a big difference. The quizzical want to know.

“You don’t know what ‘No problema’ means?” I asked him.

“No,” he said.

“It means, ‘No problem’ in Spanish” I explained. “Listen carefully to how much the English and Spanish words sound alike: “No problem. No problema.”

He smiled and said, “No problema.”

Later in the day he told me everything was fine. “Perfecto,” I replied, with thumbs up.

We went through the same steps as we had with “No problema.” Before leaving, I asked him if he remembered those earlier words.

“No,” he said.

“You have half of it,” I laughed. “‘No’ what…? No problema,” I reminded him.

“No problema,” he said.

“And what else?” I asked.

“Perfecto!” he shouted, and then laughed.

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