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  • Writer's pictureKaren Spanish Tutor

How To Teach Your Children Spanish When You Don't Speak The Language

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Have you ever thought about encouraging your children to learn Spanish? In many ways teaching your children a second language seems to be a no-brainer. It enhances problem-solving, critical-thinking, and listening skills. Studies suggest that memory, visual-spatial skills and creativity are also improved. Teaching your children Spanish offers a way to open their minds to new cultures and a wider world.

This all sounds great, but how can parents with no knowledge of Spanish hope to introduce their children to the language? It is easier than you think! In fact, it can be an incredible opportunity to learn something alongside your child and create fun memories. In this article, I will give you some ideas and resources that will help you get started.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Make A Rough Plan Of What You Want To Learn

Start small – consider four or five groups of words that you would like to learn with your children over the coming weeks. For example, these themes could be numbers, colours, animals, sports, space or the circus. The options are endless. Essentially, aim to focus on themes that your child is interested in at the moment. Plan to cover each theme in one to two weeks. You could even put them on your calendar as a reminder.

Practice Together Little And Often

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Try to practise Spanish with your children at least 5 to 10 minutes a day. This can be integrated into your daily life. You could:

  • Name the food items on your dinner plate, in Spanish.

  • Describe your daily routine in Spanish as you are doing it (e.g. nos lavamos las manos – we wash our hands).

  • Shout out the colours, in Spanish, of the cars you pass.

Using as many opportunities as you can, to reinforce the vocabulary you are learning, will help you and your children to progress..

Learn With Music

Learning languages through music is a tried and tested method.

  • For younger children these Super Simple Songs are great, combining both animation and music.

  • Rockalingua have a brilliant range of songs with worksheets to colour in too.

  • For older children, they can use Lyrics Training. It allows users to listen to pop music via YouTube then fill in the gaps in the lyrics in their chosen language.

Spanish Films and Cartoons

Why not convert screen time into an opportunity to learn?

  • There are some great Spanish cartoons on YouTube as well as some Spanish versions of family favourites such as Peppa Pig or Hey Duggee. My two year old has been really enjoying the cartoon Pocoyó so I can very much recommend this.

  • Netflix is also a great source of material. You could also turn Spanish subtitles on when watching your normal programmes and films.

However, children will learn only a limited amount by watching films and cartoons alone. Children absorb language from TV much more efficiently when you talk to them about what appears on the screen and then reinforce this learning afterwards. Essentially you would say the word to them while you watch the programme, then help your child to identify the named object in real life. Finally, you would remind them of the word when you see the object outside your home.

Play Games

Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

Another fun way to learn together is to introduce Spanish when you play family games.

  • Cards are great for learning numbers – you could play a version of Snap! where each player has to say the number on their card in Spanish when they place it.

  • Why not do a scavenger hunt in Spanish. Write a list of objects in Spanish that the kids have to find.

  • Use props such as puppets or soft toys. This is particularly effective with younger children. You can allow free play with these whilst also repeating the name for each object in Spanish as your child shows interest.

Create A Community And Consider Classes

Connect with others who are also aiming to teach their children Spanish. This way you can share your experiences and ideas with others. There are a few Facebook groups for parents looking to teach their children Spanish. In addition, you can consider boosting your child’s learning by enrolling in classes or hiring a Spanish tutor. Alternatively you could hire a tutor for yourself to improve your Spanish and then share this learning with your children. Contact me for more information about online lessons with My Spanish Tutor.

Teaching Spanish to your children is possible. Just aim for a few words at a time and you will be amazed at how much you can all achieve as a family! Parents often get put off starting to teach their children a language because the aim of bilingualism seems impossible. My advice would be to start with smaller more achievable goals and see if your child is enjoying it. Even learning a small amount of Spanish will no doubt help them as they make their way through school and beyond.

Hi, I am Karen. I am a languages tutor and blogger. I offer online tuition for students across the UK. I live in Tonbridge, in Kent, with my husband and my son. For me learning Spanish has meant fun, adventure, friendship and fulfilling work. I love sharing all that I have learnt with my students and via my blog. If you would like to receive 10% off your first online lesson, as well as regular updates and tips for learning Spanish, subscribe here.

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