Pronunciation in Spanish: Tips for Helping Your Child
Are you teaching your child to speak Spanish? Here are some ideas on how to help him with his pronunciation in Spanish and some general thoughts about when and how to do so. Share your own tips in the comments, and don’t miss an exclusive discount code for a fun new product to help with Spanish language learning!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary set of flashcards from Linguacious 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.
Pronunciation in Spanish: Tips for Helping Your Child
One challenge of teaching your child to speak Spanish is helping her to pronounce the words correctly. Especially if you start when your child is older, but even if you start when they are young but they are immersed in an English-speaking culture, pronunciation in Spanish will inevitably present some difficulties. Yet there are some simple ways you can help!
But first, some general cautions:
Multilingual Parenting has an excellent article on whether to correct your bilingual child’s language. As a parent and educator, our relationship with our child is much different than that of a teacher and student in a traditional classroom. She cautions strongly against constantly correcting your child, instead focusing on encouraging them when they use language correctly. As she often reiterates on her blog, as a parent you also must focus on your relationship with your child as well as the child’s long-term enthusiasm for learning the language.
So be careful about when and whether to correct your child’s pronunciation in Spanish. As a general rule, the more self-conscious they feel when they speak, the less enjoyable it will be for them and the less they will want to continue.
If you are a homeschooler, you may be at a slight advantage because your child is used to seeing you as a teacher who will be providing instruction in Spanish as in other subjects such as math and history. As a result, when you are in “class mode,” they may be more open to having direct help with pronunciation.
And now, for some fun ideas to help with your child’s pronunciation in Spanish – sometimes without them even realizing it!
Rhymes are a great way to help with a child’s pronunciation in Spanish, as they must attend to the sounds of the words and listen carefully for similar sounds. Here are some printable rhyming words, including links to traditional rhymes in Spanish.
Using music to teach Spanish works on so many levels – it’s fun, it teaches culture, and – it’s great for pronunciation! Music often contains repetition of important words and phrases, and children often “get” pronunciation better when it is set to music. Again, it is a way of encouraging them to really listen to the sounds in words. Spanish Playground also has some wonderful hand-clapping games that work to teach pronunciation in a similar way. You can also find cute musical videos to help teach pronunciation.
3. Focus on Syllables
Spanish letters have much more uniform sounds than in English, which can be really helpful when teaching pronunciation in Spanish! When children really understand how Spanish syllables are pronounced, it makes it easy for them to confront long and more complex vocabulary later on. So try breaking the language down into syllables and help teach pronunciation using tools like this printable syllable wheel. Clapping activities can help them learn where to put the correct stress.
4. Mouth Exercises
Did you know that you can actually do simple mouth exercises with your child to help them with their pronunciation? Here is an article by a speech language pathologist on mouth exercises that help with clear speech. It includes a special note on the Italian “r,” which is similar to the Spanish “r.”
5. About those “R’s”
If there is any aspect of pronunciation in Spanish that gives a child trouble, it is sure to be that rolled “r”! (The flipped “r” is a bit tricky as well but easier to teach and correct). Here is a collection of ideas from parents and educators on how to help kids to roll their “r’s” – although the main message is to not worry about it too much, as even native speakers have trouble with this when they’re young!
6. Exposure to Native Speakers
For me, one of the most important things you can do to help your child with his pronunciation in Spanish is to expose him as much as possible to the speech of native speakers. The more he hears the language, the more his ear will become accustomed to it and the more natural the correct pronunciation will sound to him. And while it may take him a while to be able to replicate the sounds himself, this is a small challenge compared to those children who simply don’t know how words should be pronounced or who cannot remember because of lack of exposure.
If you are not a native speaker yourself or even if you don’t speak Spanish, there are still many ways you can make sure your child is exposed to the speech of native speakers. And even if you are a native speaker, it can be very helpful for your child to listen to other native speakers as well, so they can hear other accents and listen to vocabulary and speech patterns you perhaps don’t use as much.
Obviously, if you have friends or relatives who are native speakers, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity for interaction. If you don’t have access to native speakers your child can meet face to face, you can still listen to Spanish language radio, Spanish music, and Spanish language media.
And I’m also excited to introduce you to a brand-new way to reinforce correct pronunciation in Spanish: through these wonderful new flash cards from Linguacious!
Look what just came in the mail! I was excited to have been contacted by @linguacious_llc to review their Spanish flashcards! They were developed by PhD linguists and tested by real families. They are a fun way to learn a language, especially because they come with so many ideas of games you can play with them! But what my kids really love is that you can scan a QR code on each card and hear the pronunciation! Use the exclusive code ADMONKEY for 10% off your Amazon order! . . . #mkbkids #kbnmoms #kbnhms #homeschooling #homeschoolmom #spanish #language #flashcards #sacramento #exploresac #mysacramento #learningthroughplay #kidsofinstagram #instagood #instakids #ignorcal #education
You may think, what do flash cards have to do with pronunciation?
These well-made flash cards (available in dozens of other languages as well) were developed by PhD linguists and tested by real families. There are many different games you can play with them, so it is a fun way to learn and practice vocabulary in the target language. The photos are clear and colorful and help kids learn practical vocabulary.
But what my kids really love is that you can scan a QR code on each card and hear the pronunciation! This is wonderful for tech-loving kids, but also for parents who aren’t native speakers themselves. You know your child is being exposed to the correct pronunciation in Spanish by a native speaker!
I highly recommend this for anyone teaching their child Spanish. Try it yourself, with the exclusive discount code ADMONKEY for 10% off your Amazon order, good through April 31, 2018!