Having a weekend

Today I was reminded how gradually children learn to use a new language. I was walking through the playground at Pelican Primary School, on my way to lunch, and one of the younger students – perhaps in Grade 1 – came up to me and asked me sweetly, “Gillian… are you having a weekend now?”

It’s Tuesday today. I smiled at him and told him, “I’m just going out to get some lunch.” “Oh,” he said, and skipped off to rejoin his friends.

Most of the children at this school speak another language at home. If they have been in Australia two years or less (I think), they are entitled to attend the Language School in order to have intensive English language tuition in a curriculum context. But for children who have been here longer than that, starting school may be the first time they have used English on a daily basis. They are often very articulate and confident speakers, but there are some turns of phrase that reveal the gaps in their understanding .

I have no idea quite what he meant by ‘having a weekend’. I assume he asked me this because he saw me heading for the gate, carrying my handbag. I wish I’d asked him what he meant. Maybe for him, ‘having a weekend’ is what happens when you leave the school grounds. ‘Having a weekend’ sounds like a nice thing to do on a Tuesday when your task is to clean the music room after months of renovations and storage cartons!

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