Four Tips for Teaching a Kid Spanish
Fun fact: The United States has no official language. We are a melting pot of cultures and languages, and hopefully always will be. That being said, if there is any skill that your child will really benefit from, it is the ability to speak English and Spanish. Most Americans speak English, and Spanish is the next common (and also fastest growing) language in our fair land. If your child is bilingual, they’ll have better job opportunities, they’ll be able to communicate with 92% of the people they meet (versus just 80% if they only speak English), and their brain will become comfortable adopting new information, making their options endless.
It is far easier for a child to learn Spanish, while their brain is still developing and building a vocabulary, than it is to go back and pick it up as an adult. In fact, expers say that providing Spanish for preschoolers is more beneficial than even teaching them how to read! For that reason, we’ve put together a guide to finding the best Spanish curriculum lessons and other tips for helping your child adopt Spanish:
Four Tips for Teaching a Kid Spanish
- Start with the right Spanish curriculum lessons.
Even if you already know how to speak Spanish yourself, you might be confident in how to teach the concept to another human. Conjugating verbs is second-nature when you’re bilingual, but communicating that to another person who doesn’t speak Spanish, is whole different ball of wax. This is why finding the right Spanish curriculum lessons is so important. You need to find Spanish curriculum lessons that both compliment the way that you teach and the way that your child learns.
If you and your child are hands-on learners (and teachers, since we tend to teach in the way that we learn), you’ll probably do better with a Spanish curriculum that gets you interacting with other people in Spanish or cooking Spanish food than you would keeping your face in a book. On the other hand, if you learn through keeping your face in a book, you know what to look for!
- Leverage things your child is already interested in.
They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. That means that you can give your child all the resources in the world to learn Spanish, but you can’t force them to adopt it.
Even if they aren’t excited to learn Spanish, they’ll certainly gain interest in it if it gives them the opportunity to do something that they do love. For example, let’s say your child loves animals. Take them to the zoo and tell them about each animal in espanol. You aren’t seeing a bear today; you’re visiting an oso! This really helps them engage in the content. Once they’re hooked, the rest will come naturally.
- Look for Spanish storybook sets.
Children learn best when they don’t realize they’re learning. If you’re pushy about flash cards and vocabulary memorization, you’ll turn it into a chore and they’ll turn their brains right off. However, if you read them a book about a subject they love (let’s say… dinosaurs), they’ll get so caught up in the story and the entertainment that they don’t even notice that they’re learning terms like “dinosaurio” and “volcan” and even how the verbs are conjugated.
- Don’t forget about culture!
When a child doesn’t just understand a bunch of Spanish words, but also the cultures that use those languages, it helps them see the whole picture. They aren’t just memorizing vocabulary with no purpose in sight, they’re joining a whole new culture.
Take them to festivals for Spanish cultures. Make food of countries that speak Spanish together (cooking food together is a fun experience, a great way to get a glimpse of a new culture, and the opportunity to gain some Spanish vocab. Win win win!). Join Spanish heritage clubs. Get to know people who speak Spanish as a first language. Ask Spanish-speakers to communicate (albeit slowly at first) only in Spanish with you and your child. The more you immerse yourselves in the Spanish culture, the more exciting it is to become part of it through the language!
Do you have any other tips or tricks for helping a child learn Spanish? Please share in the comment section below!