Ideas for Teaching Spanish to Children - Tips for Basic Spanish Skills
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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!
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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!
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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!"
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.