7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Spanish Even If You Don’t Speak It
Have you seen all the articles on the importance of teaching your kids another language but feel frustrated because you feel you aren’t fluent enough to do this? Maybe your child’s school doesn’t offer foreign language classes, or perhaps your child is lucky enough to be enrolled in one and you would like to know how you can support it at home. This article is for you! Here are 7 simple ways you can teach your kids Spanish – even if you don’t speak it!
Find even more ideas on my Spanish for Kids Pinterest board!
Please note that I am not trying to diminish the importance of qualified Spanish teachers. Far from it. I’m merely acknowledging the fact that not all children have access to Spanish classes, or they do but their parents aren’t sure how they can support this language learning at home.
Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish! for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Spanish Even If You Don’t Speak It
1. Ask the Experts
If your child has a Spanish teacher and you’d like to support their work at home, just ask! This may seem obvious, but often we forget to simply ask the teacher what you can do at home to reinforce what your child is learning at school. If your child is not enrolled in a program, you can contact a local school or look online for resources. Two of my go-to websites are Mommy Maestra and Spanish Playground, both of which include materials for a range of abilities.
Related Post: Top Homeschool Resources for Teaching Spanish
2. Read Bilingual Books
Reading bilingual books is one of the best ways to learn Spanish along with your child! For example, these wonderful bilingual board books teach simple vocabulary that kids and adults can easily learn. (We love Counting With / Contando Con Frida, shown above).
I adore this article on how to use bilingual books to teach “un poquito” español with books like My Way/A mi manera, even you have a very basic understanding yourself. She has great tips on how to get the most out of this experience!
This year I've really been working on increasing my kids' exposure to Spanish and trying to connect them to the written language. One way to do this that they really enjoy is reading beautiful bilingual picture books like My Colors, My World / Mis colores, mi mundo by one of my favorite authors, Maya Christina Gonzalez. In this award winning book, a young girl shares the colors she sees in her home, from the brown of the desert sand to the orange of the marigolds. Lovely story to share anytime but especially now for Hispanic Heritage Month, which is just starting! Be sure to visit @ABoyarshinov for another great #picturebookoftheday recommendation! #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #kidlit #hispanicheritage #hhm #mkbhhm #bilingual #bilingualbooks
One interesting approach for older kids is that used in the well intentioned book ¡hola! Let’s Learn Spanish POD: Visit New Places and Make New Friends, which I was recently sent to review. The story is mainly in English, with Spanish words gradually sprinkled in. Through repetition and context, the reader is able to understand the meanings and begin to incorporate the vocabulary. The book also includes fun activities to practice the new vocabulary and learn more about the culture of Mexico.
While I admire the purpose of the book and its pedagogy, I can’t fully recommend it because its main story relies on stale images of Mexico as a place of sombreros and jumping beans. As stated in this wonderful article about moving beyond cultural stereotypes of Mexico, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with these images, just that we need to look deeper to see the richness and variety of the culture, particularly when teaching children who may not have been exposed to authentic Mexican culture before.
3. Listen to Music in Spanish
Music is such a fun way to teach your kids Spanish! Not only do kids learn the rhythms and sounds of a language, moving to music is great for active learners like mine. We really love ¡A Bailar! Let’s Dance! from Whistlefritz as well as Mister G, especially Los Animales, and I dare you not to sing along to the title track on Chocolalala! (Read my full reviews here and here). Great music and great language learning!
Related Post: 3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish
4. Watch Spanish Language Videos
Another fun way to teach your kids Spanish is through watching videos together. Whistlefritz has great DVDs like Spanish for Kids: Vamos a Jugar. We also love Little Pim: Let’s Eat – Spanish For Kids. (Read my full review of Little Pim). And don’t forget that these days most DVDs let you select the language track, so try setting videos to Spanish. Watching a favorite movie can be a very snuggly way to learn together!
5. Create a Support Network
Keep yourself motivated by creating a support network of other families who are teaching their kids Spanish. These could be other parents from your child’s class or those you meet through a moms’ group or hanging out at the library! You could also look for local homeschooling groups or search online to see if there is an existing group. If not, your local library may be able to host a get together of interested parents.
Related Post: Starting a Multicultural Moms Group
6. Find an Immersion Program
Many areas offer immersion programs during the summer, which can be an invaluable way to really teach your kids Spanish by surrounding them with native speakers and other Spanish students. I have not tried Concordia Language Villages, but it is a well known program of immersion camps. (They offer them for adults, too!) You may even be able to find a local program such as the one described by this mother.
I can’t emphasize enough how much travel motivates children (and parents) to learn another language by making it more fun and relevant. It also creates very positive associations for them that will keep them interested in learning, plus it helps them place the language within a larger cultural context that will make language learning more meaningful.
Above all, know that what you are doing matters! Every bit of exposure to another language is helpful. Even if you aren’t fluent yourself, you are still giving your child a tremendous advantage in their own language learning plus you are showing them how much you value learning another language by making an effort alongside them. Keep it up, and share your tips in the comments!
For even more ideas, check out this great article on learning Spanish with your kids!