Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 1, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Melinda sits in Spanish class, bored once again. She detachedly mocks her Spanish teacher’s attempts at immersion—to communicate with the class without speaking any English at all. The teacher attempts to mime words (Melinda calls it a “class in charades”), before finally writing a sentence on the board for the class to translate. They attempt to do so, incorrectly, but do not finish before the end of the period.
Although this subplot of the Spanish teacher’s failed attempt at “immersive” teaching is comical, it also represents another instance in which an adult is unable to communicate with high schoolers. Throughout the book, in fact, Anderson inserts moments in which communication fails, implying that all the characters—not just Melinda—have trouble connecting with each other.
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