How to Teach Your Kids Spanish at Home
Just thinking of teaching your kids an entirely new language can be overwhelming. I mean, come on, there are so many words to learn, not to mention grammar rules and cultural customs.
But, every journey begins with a first step. And, just imagine where you kids will end up…ordering arroz con habichuelas y pollo next to a beach in Puerto Rico!
What we will cover in this post:
where to start in the language learning journey
how to teach your kids Spanish
resources you can use to teach your kids Spanish
But first, why should you teach your kids Spanish anyway?
There are tons of reasons to teach your kids Spanish, but I will just hit the highlights…
increased brain power
being able to communicate with more people
more job opportunities
makes it even more fun to travel
Spanish is the 2nd largest language spoken in the United States (so if you live in the US, like me, it is a logical choice for a 2nd language)
Now, on to the heart of this post:
Where to Start when it comes to Teaching Your Kids Spanish
I’m going to make this really simple - Start with VOCABULARY! It just makes sense. Even if you don’t know any grammar rules yet, if you know words, you can get your point across.
Check out this simple example:
Emma, a 3 year old girl, walks up to her grandmother (who only speaks Spanish), and says, “agua, por favor.” Then, her grandmother gives her a glass of water, and Emma goes back to playing with dolls. Emma only said two words “water, please,” but she was able to communicate and get what she needed.
And, once you do start to learn about grammar, just imagine how quickly you could make progress if you already have a lot of words to work with!
How to Teach Your Kids Spanish
I believe that a combination of direct instruction and authentic learning opportunities is the best way to go.
When I say direct instruction, I mean structured learning, like something you might see in a classroom. When you have structured learning time, you have a plan or a curriculum.
When it comes to direct instruction for Spanish vocabulary, I would suggest learning in themes, like foods, colors, numbers, or animals. That way your kiddo is learning groups of words that are related.
A few great things about direct instruction…
Having structured learning allows your kids to focus on one thing at a time, and it allows you to assess their progress.
If your kids are only learning Spanish through watching tv or listening to music, then it can be hard to see if they are making any progress. But, if they are learning in themes, it is much easier for them to focus on a few words at a time. And, it is much easier for you to see their progress!
Authentic Learning Opportunities
What I mean by authentic learning opportunities is anything that your kids might do naturally on their own. If they normally read books, watch tv, or listen to music, then I would consider these authentic learning opportunities.
What’s great about books, tv, and music is that they create an opportunity for your child to see and hear Spanish in action.
What is really cool is when your kids notice words they remember from structured learning times within an authentic learning experience.
Like when you kid is watching Cleo & Coquin on netflix and yells out….Cleo just said amarillo, that means yellow!
Resources You Can Use to Teach Your Kids Spanish
Now on to the main course - resources you can use to teach your kids Spanish!
Resources for Direct Instruction
Because we've already established that starting with vocabulary just makes sense, I will focus on Spanish vocabulary learning materials.
For direct instruction, you should definitely check out my website: Learning with Jessica Diaz. Once you arrive, there are free children’s books, free instructional videos, and activities that you can purchase.
If you want to try out some of the activities for free, you can grab my Spanish freebie here.
Resources for Authentic Learning
There are multiple sources for authentic learning, but I will focus on the three that are most convent to access and will more easily fit into your schedule - tv shows, books, and Apps.
Television can be a great resource when it comes to learning Spanish. It gives your kids a chance to listen to Spanish in action! And, the great news for those of you who have Netflix is that many of your kids’ favorite shows are available in Spanish. All you have to do is switch the language.
If you haven't tried switching the language on your Netflix shows before, it's super easy. All you have to do is look for the icon that looks like a text box (either at the top left or bottom right of your screen). Select the icon and choose Spanish audio. And, voila!
If, for whatever reason, your kids’ favorite tv shows aren't available in Spanish, check out these great shows:
Cleo & Cuquin
Justin Time Go
Be Be Bears
True and the Rainbow Kingdom
If you feel comfortable reading in Spanish, books are a great way to integrate Spanish into your routine. I personally like to read the Spanish versions of books that my kids already know and love in English.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems / ¡No Dejes Que la Paloma Conduzca el Autobus!
There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems / ¡Tienes un pájaro en la cabeza!
If you don’t feel comfortable reading in Spanish, you can always check YouTube for read alouds, in Spanish, of your kids’ favorite books.
Apps are so convenient and shouldn’t be overlooked. When you’re sitting in the pediatrician’s waiting room, your kids can use an app to practice Spanish. If you and your daughter are waiting for your son to finish his music lesson, open an app for Spanish practice on the go.
For younger kids, I love Endless Spanish! It is so cute, and it introduces your kids to letter sounds and Spanish words. You can try it out for free, and if you like it you can pay to unlock more of the App.
For older kids, Duolingo is amazing and free! It starts out easy and gets harder as your kiddo progresses through the App.
The one thing that you will need in order to pull all this together is a schedule or some type of checklist. Consistency is key when it comes to learning a new language. Your kiddos won’t get very far if they just learn a little bit every now and then. But, if they learn a little bit every day, watch out! They're going to be language learning rock stars.
So, look at your life. Is there a certain time of day when you can integrate direct instruction into your routine?
Are there times when you’re busy, but you would like your kids to practice Spanish? This may be a good time to utilize some of those authentic learning resources.
Special Sign Off
Wow! That was a lot of information. Thanks for sticking with me until the end here.
If it seems like a lot, don’t feel overwhelmed. Just start with one thing at a time. Then, once that one thing has become just another thing you do each day, you can try adding in something else.
Remember, you got this!
About the author:
Hi! I'm Jessica from Learning with Jessica Diaz. I am a teacher and a mother of two. All of the info I have shared with you is a result of what I have learned teaching my own kids and my students. I really hope that this information helps you, and I wish you all the best on your learning adventures!