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¡Qué dolor!


Today a student returned after an absence with a sling on his arm, so during class greetings I said, “Carlos, ¿qué te pasó?”  What happened?!

My 7th graders are soooo respectful of the Spanish zone, so of course he asked for permission, “¿Puedo hablar en inglés?, before explaining. 

“Sí, claro,” yes, of course.

“I separated my clavicle from my shoulder.”

¡Díos mío! My goodness!  That was one I haven’t heard before.  I wrote on the board:

¿Tienes dolor de clavícula? = Do you have pain of the clavicle/ a clavicle-ache?

Tengo dolor de + parte del cuerpo = I have pain of + body part

The kids already know a lot of body part vocabulary, but what followed indicated that, apparently, they don’t know enough, not to mention, they are evidently way too hard on their bodies!

First I asked Carlos, “¿Tienes dolor de clavícula?”

Carlos gravely responded, “Sí, tengo dolor de clavícula.”

” ¡Qué horrible!  ¡Pobre Carlos!” How horrible!  Poor Carlos!  A smattering of Pobre Carlos‘s resounded throughout the room.  They love to exclaim pobre anybody.

Then I continued to ask the rest of the class ¿Cómo están? How are you doing?  More hands than usual shot up.

¿Luna, cómo estás tú?”

“Yo tengo dolor de…” She was gesturing with her hands around her entire upper body, so I wasn’t sure where to begin prompting.

“¿Tienes dolor de cabeza?” Do you have a headache?

“Noooo, tengo dolor de…”

“¿Tienes dolor de estómago?” Do you have a stomach-ache?  (The usual culprits.)

“¿Cómo se dice everywhere?”

I wrote on the board:  todo el cuerpo = the whole body

“Oooooh, tienes dolor de TODO el cuerpo.” Ohhh, you have pain of the whole body.

“¡Sí!”  This seemed to please her greatly.

Then, another eager hand.

“Ema, ¿Cómo estás tú?”

“Estoy bien.”

“¡Qué excelente!  ¿No tienes dolor también?” That’s great!  You don’t have pain too?

“Well, sí…” Pause.   “ ¿Cómo se dice ankle?”

I wrote on the board:  tobillo = the ankle

“Tengo dolor de… tobillo.”

“¡No me digas!  Pobre Ema…” You don’t say!  Poor Ema…  (smiles.)

Then, “Isabel, ¿Cómo estás tú?”

“¿Cómo se dice Achilles?”

Hmmm, I love when they stump me.  I don’t believe I ever had the occasion to talk about my or anyone else’s Achilles tendon while living in Guatemala.  So, we looked it up and wrote on the board:

tendón de Achiles = Achilles tendon

Smiles all around — they love cognates.

“Tengo dolor de.. tendón de Achiles.”

“Es muy interesante, Isabel.  ¿Por qué?” That’s very interesting.  Why?

“¿Puedo hablar en inglés?”

“Sí, gracias por preguntar.” Yes, thanks for asking!

“I was sitting in my room, and when I stood up my ankle popped and my Achilles started hurting ever since then.”

“Ooo, lo siento, Isabel.  ¡Qué dolor!” I’m sorry.  What pain!

“Galena, ¿cómo estás tú?” I thought Galena might move us on from having pain, as Galena ALWAYS says that she is emocionada, excited, pretty much every single day, and then tells us why.  But…

“Tengo dolor de…” She was holding her throat, and I did not remember having emphasized “throat” during the body vocabulary unit last year, as it didn’t happen to be taught during sore throat season!

I wrote on the board: garganta = throat

“¡Tengo dolor de garganta!”

” Ay, lo siento, Galena.  Clase, Galena tiene dolor de garganta — ¡Qué horrible!”

As I turned to call on the next sufferer, she quickly added, “¡Y estoy emocionada!”

At least some things remain in good health:)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/14/2010 8:15 pm

    It was fun to read about the joys that go along with language learning! I teach middle schoolers in a dual immersion school (English and Spanish), so I always love hearing about language experiences, especially when it is apparent that students are enjoying the discoveries of language play.

  2. 12/14/2010 8:28 pm


    Thanks for all of the translations. I took French for 10 years, so way you switched codes was helpful to me.

  3. 12/15/2010 9:51 pm

    Your post brought back memories of my brief experience with a wonderful Spanish teacher 2 years ago – so different from my own high school French class 30 years ago! Much more fun to use real exchanges instead of those “canned” conversations!

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