We hope to make this a space where you can find information, tips, ideas and resources to help you encourage your child to learn another language.
Learning a new language is like opening another door in your child’s brain. This door will lead to a greater capacity to communicate with other people and understand other cultures. Most experts agree that the sooner you start introducing another language to a child, the greater the possibility that the child will be fluent and successful with it.
Please don’t forget to play, the natural way in which every child learns. We added websites in the kid’s section that include free literacy games. Play them with your child/ren.
¡La hora del Español! When to teach Spanish to children: timing
Spanish for children or learning Spanish situations can happen during many moments in the day. However knowing your child and your routine will help you determine the best moments to teach it. Before starting take a look at our resources and free printables for inspiration!
It’s a good idea to have a formal teaching time at least twice a week, and then informal teaching times the rest of the days. When selecting these times, make sure your child is not tired. A formal session should last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on your child’s attention span. An informal session is meant to be short, around 10 minutes tops, but may be increased if your child still has interest.
Formal Teaching Times
Besides using moments from your daily routine, you could also choose a specific time/s in the week to teach the language. You can call it “La hora de Español!” and use this time to teach new vocabulary, grammar and practice phrases that not necessarily would come up in your daily routine.
Example of a Formal Teaching Time
- Introduce New Language
Expose the child to the new language. Use real objects (realia), flash cards, books or body language. Start with 5 to 10 vocabulary words and a phrase. Say the name of word and ask your child to repeat after you.
- Practice the Language
Use a game or activity to practice the language. For example, play a memory game or lotto game and ask the child to repeat after you when s/he doesn’t know. As you play check for understanding, and reinforce them positively.
- Closure and Ending
When the activity is done, and while putting things away, take the opportunity to review the language once more. For example, as you are putting the memory pieces away, say to your child some of the words and asks/he to repeat them. It’s OK if you don’t get to practice all the words/phrases again!
Extension can happen in various ways. If your child continues to be interested, you can extend the lesson by adding another short activity.
Also, your child may use the word in a different context. You can seize the opportunity to review and add new material.
Informal Teaching Times
These are spontaneous moments that can happen at any moment in your day. Your child or you can initiate them. For example if you are riding in the car and your child starts practicing the letters out loud. This can turn into a game where you say one letter and then your child follows with the next. These times are shorter than a formal time or routine, about 5 minutes long. Stop sooner if your child starts to loose interest.
Example of an Informal Teaching Time
- Language comes up
The child spontaneously says the name of a clothing item when you are dressing him.
- Feedback and addition
Parent gives feedback to the child, reinforcing the language or correcting. Then, the parent continues by adding or saying the name of something s/he is wearing. The child repeats it. This can go back and forth until the child loses interest.
¿Qué aprenderemos? What to teach your children: Spanish Curriculum.
There is a lot of content to learn in Spanish. It is good to base what you are going to teach on what you’d like your children to be able to do with the language. If speaking and understanding the language is more important to you, then focus your work on phrases. The daily routine is your best friend in this. Games are good too as you can do a lot of speaking because of the game. If you have a Mexican restaurant nearby you can take your children there and have them order their food in Spanish too!
Here are some really useful phrases to get you started.
I also created this series of books to help parents use the daily routine to teach the language:
TO BE CONTINUED!