In "Barrio Boy", how did Ernesto and his mother communicate with Miss Hopley, the Principal?
Ernesto and his mother communicate with Miss Hopley with the aid of a student interpreter.
After Ernesto and his mother are comfortably settled in her office, Miss Hopley opens a door in the far corner of the office and calls a name.
"A boy of about ten years appeared in the doorway. He sat down at one end of the table. He was brown like us, a plump kid with shiny black hair combed straight back, neat, cool, and faintly obnoxious".
The boy translates between Miss Hopley and Ernesto and his mother as the principal asks a series of questions so that Ernesto can be enrolled in school and placed in the proper grade. When Miss Hopley obtains all the information she needs, she dismisses the interpreter and escorts Ernesto to his classroom.
The school has a multicultural population. In Ernesto's class there are students who are Korean, Portugese, Italian, and Polish, and friends in the barrio have assured the Galarzas that "there was always a person at the school who could speak Spanish". Before the arrival of the student interpreter, Miss Hopkins communicates with Ernesto and his mother through her demeanor and actions; "in her eyes (there is) a warm welcome and when she (takes) off her glasses and straighten(s) up she smile(s) wholeheartedly", putting her visitors at ease (Part 4).