I teach Geography, too. I’m supposed to be teaching Brazilian Geography using books and maps printed only in Portuguese. However, when it was clear to everyone at the beginning of the year that, “hey, guess what? Gina isn’t Brazilian and doesn’t speak Portuguese! Maybe she shouldn’t be teaching Brazilian Geography with Portuguese books!” I didn’t anymore. So now, this semester, I’m teaching kind of what I do know about, which is US Geography. A little more manageable for me. And in my own language.
One of my girls decided to research Rhode Island. Somewhere, she found out about the Rhode Island accent. On her poster and in her letter to me (or postcard, rather, from Rhode Island) she wrote about this accent: “Another really interesting fact about Rhode Islanders is their accent. They seem to love the letter ‘r’. They drop it in some words, like “water” becomes ‘watta’ and they add the ‘r’ in some words like ‘idea’ becomes ‘idear.'”
I had laughing tears rolling down my face as she presented this poster to the class showing an equation for the Rhode Island accent:
“water” = “watta” (drop the r)
“idea” = “idear” (add the r)
When the kids heard about “idear,” they laughed right out loud and then everyone said “idear” to hear what it sounded like in their own voices.
I am so tickled by this Rhode Island thing because I used to live there, in Wakefield, Narragansett, and Providence. I had Italian landlords and mothers of boyfriends who had the distinct Rhode Island accents. I could hear all of those people in my memory when my student began her reporting. It was a good moment, that day. A funny trip down memory lane.