5 Tips for Teaching your Child Spanish at Home
We all know that young children need to learn in a realistic, fun, and interactive environment. Many parents from our Bilingual Fun™ language program ask me how they may continue their language development at home. Here are 5 basic tips on how to teach your child Spanish at home:
Teaching Spanish Through Movement
Active learning is a key factor of language learning success. Children love to interact and choosing activities that have physical movement often helps children retain the language. You can create fun, easy Spanish lessons for kids through dancing and movement. I suggest doing the ever popular ‘freeze dance’. You can change the rules as you go along. Play music and when it stops, kids have to ‘freeze’. Give various commands as to what they have to do…. Count 1-20, count backwards, salta- jump, marcha- march, aplaude- clap, etc. Another way to incorporate movement is to make up hand and arm motions for opposites. Make large gestures for arriba/abajo, largo/corto, etc. Keep the children moving and you will see how quickly they pick up the new Spanish words.
Teaching Your Child Through Music
Teaching kids Spanish through music is very important. Fluency, pronunciation, and comprehension are reinforced by singing. You can pick thematic songs that correspond with words you are learning. There is lots of great children’s Spanish music to choose from. We recommend
Ms. Lily’s Spanish Sing Alongs which are full of bilingual songs covering tons of different vocabulary. Also, using familiar tunes to teach new phrases is a fun, easy way to teach Spanish. I have many original songs that I have made up and are favorites of my children. We use the tune of Frere Jacques, Skip to My Lou, Farmer in the Dell, and many more to create easy to sing along songs in Spanish. We incorporate colors, numbers, animals, family, etc. Children are able to quickly learn the songs because they have prior knowledge of the tune.
Make Their Learning Realistic
Whenever I can give children something tangible to hold during a song or activity really makes their learning realistic. For example, we sing a song called " La Fruta- Fruit". Every child has a plastic piece of fruit in their hands, and as the vocabulary is named in the song, they hold it up. Choose toys and objects that are favorites of your children. Incorporate them in your easy Spanish lessons. If they love cars, sort them by color and number. Or when playing with dolls or stuffed animals, give them all names and ask ‘ cómo se llama?”. If you have blocks, make towers and count in Spanish. Each time your child is playing, try to make their Spanish lesson relevant and realistic to their lives.
Teaching Through Reading
Reading and listening to books on tape are fantastic ways to enhance comprehension skills. If you are comfortable reading aloud in Spanish, take time each night to do story time in Spanish. You children will pick up new words and phrases. Be sure to reinforce by asking questions at the end to ensure their comprehension. A great resource for quality Spanish books for children is the Latin Baby Book Club. They send monthly suggestions and reviews of fabulous multicultural Latin inspired Spanish and bilingual books. If you are not comfortable reading aloud, but still want your children to be exposed to literature in Spanish, seek out some books on tape at your local library. Most libraries will have a nice selection and this is a favorite activity with my own children.
Keeping Learning Fun
When teaching young children anything, whether it is language or math skills, keeping things fun is important to help foster their interest. Play based learning is a great way to making learning Spanish easy for kids. Singing, dancing, movement, reading, etc should all be done in fun, natural environment. Incorporate outside play in your Spanish lessons for kids. Practice kicking the soccer ball and counting the goals in Spanish. Jump rope and count in Spanish. Play hopscotch in Spanish. Draw with chalk on the driveway and reinforce colors and common vocabulary by playing Pictionary. Blow bubbles and reinforce ‘arriba/abajo’. Play versions of “ Mother May I” and incorporate the numbers and ‘rapido/lento’. These are easy ways to incorporate fun as you are teaching kids Spanish.
Even with limited language skills, there are many ways that families can continue their child's development and exposure to the language. We recommend to use materials that incorporate music, movement, and fun activities, such as the Spanish for Children DVD series. Children are able to remain engaged and sing, chant, and repeat along with the children in the DVDs. Active learning while keeping things relevant to their lives, is a key factor of language learning success.
Jennifer Manriquez M. Ed
Founder, The Bilingual Fun Company