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The Cat, The Fish, and The Waiter
posted by: Garry | November 06, 2015, 05:53 PM   

After a fitful night, Peter turns amateur detective and takes to the streets of Paris to locate the animals. His search leads him to meet new characters and visit new places, and this is particularly significant because of the thing that makes this book unique; it’s in three languages.

In today’s multilingual and multicultural society, this idea has been a huge hit in classrooms across the nation, and has become a must-have for every Language Arts classroom. This story keeps students interested while introducing several valuable linguistic concepts. In the manner of foreign language textbooks, the author first introduces the foreign nouns by dedicating a separate page to each. For example, one entire page illustrates Peter the Waiter/Pedro el camarero/Pierre, le serveur. Next, the author adds on the nouns she has taught her readers with verbs and more nouns to create a simple sentence: “Peter worked as a waiter in a cozy little café.” Little by little, Marianna Bergues adds more complexity, stacking new words and phrases onto what readers have already mastered.


Several concepts are bound to catch the imagination of young students:

  • The idea that a person’s name might be different in another language
  • The awareness that not every language arranges words in the order that English does (They will notice that in French and Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun)
  • The similarity of some words across all three languages
  • The fact that the Latin roots of all three languages will allow them to make useful connections, so valuable to their developing vocabularies. (Example: “Busy” in English is “ocupado” in Spanish. What English word sounds like “ocupado?”)

Many teachers find success in their classrooms by reading small sections as a class daily, giving students time to study and examine the written words on their own. This one little story has kept so many students so engaged, they don’t even notice that they are developing a rudimentary understanding of two other languages. It’s such a great head start to give them before they begin any official foreign language study, and an even better way to show them that learning another language is fun!


Are your students doing great things like this?
Tell us about it in the comments below and we may showcase their work on our blog!


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