Ideas for Teaching Spanish to Children - Tips for Basic Spanish Skills

Las flores de amarillo y rojo

Teach colors by labeling pictures and objects, in this case yellow and red flowers.
Teach colors by labeling pictures and objects, in this case yellow and red flowers. | Source

Children Learn Foreign Language More Easily Than Adult Do

Anyone who has taught or tried to learn a language realizes that it is much easier for the younger mind to learn a foreign language. Children's brains soak up information like a sponge.

Two years old and younger is not too young to start teaching your child Spanish or other language of choice. Start your child as a baby, and he or she just may end up being bilingual!

Spanish is the number two language spoken in the United States and is popular around the world. Being bilingual in English and Spanish makes people especially marketable in the job market in the U.S.

Some people think that toddlers' learning a language might be difficult while they are still trying to learn their first language.That is completely false, as children have the capacity to become bilingual at an early age--the younger the better!


el perro blanco

Repeat common phrases in Spanish, such as "the white dog."
Repeat common phrases in Spanish, such as "the white dog." | Source

Start Simple When Teaching a Foreign Language

Whether you are a parent teaching your child Spanish at home or a teacher in the school system, start simply, just as you would with anyone learning a foreign language.

Start with greetings and introductions. Add numbers and colors. Throw in simple words for objects that the child sees every day.

When this young learner matches simple words, you can start to put together phrases for the child. Keep building on what was learned before.


Incorporate Spanish into Everyday Life

Use Spanish every day when doing everyday activities. Name food items in English and Spanish. Have your child repeat the words. When he or she has mastered naming objects, you can move on to learning verbs such as eating, drinking, playing, and sleeping.

Teach clothing items when getting dressed for the day. Talk about what you are doing when playing outside--playing basketball, running, swimming.

Going places is another great way to teach language. Name milk, cheese, bread, and whatever else you buy in the grocery store or the toy store. Name places that you drive by such as banks, churches, and schools.

Ask "What is this?" ¿Qué es esto? Or "What is that?" ¿Qué es eso?"



Make Learning Spanish Fun!

Kids (and adults) learn anything better if they enjoy the process. Here are some ideas for fun activities:

  • flashcards with pictures
  • Spanish Bingo
  • Simon Says (Simon Dice, pronounced See-mon Dee-say)
  • videos and sing-alongs
  • bilingual books
  • coloring books
  • achievement awards

When I taught high school Spanish, my students loved playing Bingo. I would say the Spanish word, and they would cover the corresponding picture on their cards. They also loved Simon Says in Spanish in which I would tell them to touch various body parts. Just like the game in English, if I didn't say "Simon dice" before the command, they would have to sit down.

Reading bilingual books aloud to a child is a great way to teach Spanish, just as it is for teaching English. Most kids love to color. Find coloring books in Spanish.

My high school students would even sing along sometimes to Spanish music. Younger kids will be much more likely.

Finally, consider giving awards for achievements. These can be as simple as stickers--preferably in Spanish!


Los gatos durmiendo

Teach more complicated phrases by attaching them to common household scenes, such as "the sleeping cats."
Teach more complicated phrases by attaching them to common household scenes, such as "the sleeping cats." | Source

More About Using Videos to Learn Spanish

Young kids will relate to the famous Dora the Explorer, who speaks a lot of Spanish in her videos. Sesame Street sometimes teaches some Spanish. I used to show my students simple Dr. Seuss videos in Spanish, such as "Are You My Mother?" and "Go, Dog, Go!"


Be Consistent

As with anything, consistency is key in helping to learn. Make sure children know that learning Spanish is an important part of their everyday life. At home, this will be more of a challenge. If a child is learning Spanish at school, that routine is already built in.

Most of this article has been geared toward parents teaching children Spanish at home. For teachers, these methods still apply. Starting out simple, building on words and phrases, and keeping it fun are all effective practices. Of course, the class isn't going to take many field trips to the local grocery store, but they can learn vocabulary through other activities.

For parents who want to teach their young children Spanish but don't know the language very well themselves, it is still do-able. Just stay a step ahead of your child and learn it at the same time. There are many resources on the internet to help.


Youtube has lots of learning videos

Resources for Teaching Spanish to Children

SpanishforKids.com can be used at home or in the classroom. Look for videos, presentations, pronunciation and conversation exercises, resources, and more.

LittlePim encourages early foreign language learning for children six years old and younger. The site offers resources for learning plus educational information for parents.

SpanglishBaby is as it sounds, a mixture of Spanish and English as two mothers have set up a site for raising children bilingual from babies. You will find lots of education and resources on this site encouraging language introduction as early as possible.

Allbilinugal sells textbooks arranged by a child's age. They also carry stories and CDs in Spanish.

123TeachMe has a variety of resources, including games, for learning Spanish--for kids of all ages. There are self-study courses and teacher resources. The site includes a translator tool.



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Comments 22 comments

Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 4 years ago from Arkansas

These are very good ideas. I'm already teaching my son Spanish, and he's only 6 months old. My husband is also teaching him Russian. What we do at our house is when it's just Mama and Baby, I speak just Spanish to him. If it's just Daddy and Baby, my husband speaks only in Russian to him. If both my husband and I are with our son, we speak English. Obviously we don't know if this method is working yet, but hopefully it does. :D


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

That is awesome, Daniella! I bet it will work well. Babies soak up so much before they can even speak. Keep it up and keep me posted on how it goes. If it works well, write a hub about it in a year or so!! Thanks for the input!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Awesome & Useful hub! I can't tell you how important I think it is to learn a second language. I grew up speaking English and some German. I took French all through school and college. It's come in handy many times and I am hoping that when my daughter enters middle school she takes Spanish. It is almost a necessity for a job in some areas.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

I wish that I had learned how to speak a second language especially Spanish. Living in Tx it could be very beneficial to know Spanish. Great ideas you have posted here.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Vee....You are a WHIZ.......and I want you to know, that I love your ideas. Of course, they would work for any language, right? And truer words were never said...that children learn a second language much easier than adults.

Actually, I've run into some kids that could stand to learn ENGLISH before they attempt a 2nd language!!! A lot of adults too!! lol....

When one of my sons took a couple of Spanish courses, I put signs on everything in sight.........I even taped a piece of paper to the cat......."El Gato Negro" LMAO!!! UP+++


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Glimmer--Thanks! I think learning a second, or even third, language, is so important, too. Besides being practical, it's so good for stretching the brain! :-)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

homestead--so true about living in TX! And now so many more places in the US. Thanks for stopping by!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Sure, Effer, they would work for all languages! Just pick one! :-)

Yeah, just because one can speak their native language doesn't mean they are good at it. LOL.

How long did the sign stick to the cat? hahaha :-)


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

This statement is surely off the beaten track -- and I enjoyed this Hub tremendously -- BUT in the State of Texas where I live Spanish/Mexican is not a difficult language for most as "most" are illegals -- and there's more every day. I, personally, would like to see it mandatory for all to speak English -- but, again, just musings by an old lady. Super Hub and enjoyed it and the ideas! Best/Sis


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks, Angela, for the input. I think that people do learn English when they stay in the US, and, actually, people coming here know more languages than we do. Children learn English in school in ESL classes and often teach their parents some, too, in order to survive. At the very LEAST, the children do learn English.

Sometimes I'm embarrassed by Americans' lack of education in language.Americans go to other countries and expect the people there to speak English, which they do, even though it isn't their first language. We should do the same. Want to visit France? Learn French! Want to visit Japan? Learn Japanese! Don't dare go to Cancun without knowing Spanish! Know what I mean? I think that so many Americans don't learn languages but expect people in other countries to learn English.

I think there should be more language-learning in the U.S. While I think English is (and should officially be) the official language of the U.S., I do think it is important for U.S. folks to learn other languages. Spanish is a great start, since it is so practical in the U.S.. Seems it is usually only people from other countries who are fluent in three, four, even five languages. I think it's wonderful! Language! Communication with other cultures!

Okay, off my soapbox. Thanks for your comments!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Victoria Lynn - I didn't feel you were on a soapbox at all -- I agree, Americans don't seem to have the grasp on foreign languages many of our visitors do. I have a smattering of Spanish through association and can get by but can't actually claim to speak a second language. Again, super Hub -- Best/Sis


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This is a great resource for both teachers and parents! I love how all of these tips can be applied to any foreign language.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Our world is so interconnected now that we do need a second and third language. I wish children were taught a new language beginning at Kindergarten level . Their minds are so receptive then. Thanks for an informational article. By the way, el perro blanco is adorable.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Angela--Well, I sort of felt like I was on a soapbox. LOL. Thanks for coming back by! :-)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Yes, random, they would work for any language! :-) Thanks for coming by!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Hyphenbird--I wish children were taught from the start, too. And thanks for the compliment about el perro blanco. He says, Gracias!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

GREAT advice! I wanna run down stairs right now and shout:

ROHO! La Casa! Clean your rooms!

hahaha Yeah that covers it! haha

Seriously - I will get Spanish Bingo and follow your other suggestions. I signed Sydney up for Spanish lessons at school. An instructor outside of the school was to come teach the class after school. She never showed up! Left my poor girl sitting in class waiting for the whole hour for her books and lesson. Isn't that a crime???!!!!

I got a refund but they cancelled the lessons as not enough parents would pay for the lessons. I really think we all missed the boat!

It is more important now than ever to try to help our children learn languages other than English...the more we can communicate with people outside our culture - the more opportunities we have!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

RealH--You are TOO funny! Yes, that should be a crime what happened to your Sydney. Maybe if I get that online class going, you and your daughter can "sign up" together! Thanks for the great comments, girl!


Nat Amaral profile image

Nat Amaral 4 years ago from BC Canada

Such good ideas. I bet a lot of parents have used these items for their kids to learn Spanish. My parents had tried to teach me Portuguese (my nationality) but it didn't work. I understand some words and sentences, but I can only speak a few words. Anyway, good ideas, and good article. I'm glad I came across this.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Nat Amaral--Glad you liked the article. I wish more parents would try to teach their kids at least a few key phrases from languages they think would be useful--from a very young age. Good for your parents for trying. I'm sure it's hard to be consistent with it. Thanks for your input!


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 3 years ago from Brownsville,TX

what a great hub.. My sons married the sweetest and most beautiful Spanish women from Mexico.. My grandchildren speak half English and half Spanish.. they think that is how everyone speaks.. it is the sweetest and funniest thing to me and I love it.. because of my grandchildren I have learned a lot.. but if you ask my grandchildren how they learn to speak Spanish they do not think they do..lol.. I love it..

great hub

Debbie


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Deborah--That's great for the kids to grow up bilingual like that. I bet it does sound cute! Yeah, they don't even know they're learning Spanish. It's just a natural thing. Wonderful! Thanks for reading!

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