So you want to teach your kids Spanish!
You know you want to raise bilingual children but you are just not sure of where to start.
Maybe you have already started but you don’t know what to do next.
The task seems daunting but with a combination of mindset and action you can establish a strong foundation for your kids’ language journey. You can do this whether you are teaching your kids your native language or whether you are choosing to pass on to them one that you learned later in life and may not even speak all that well.
This post includes affiliate links to some of my favorite resources.
The strategies that I am sharing include some specifics to Spanish but can be used to teach ANY language to a child.
If you are committed to teach your kids Spanish, we have to think about your mindset and your actions.
Mindset to help you teach your kids Spanish
The language journey is loooooong! It is a life time commitment. Think about it, you are probably still learning new words and even grammatical rules in your most dominant language. Since it is so long it is hard to always stay motivated through the years.
You can try to rush the process and teach your kids as much as you can leading one of you to burn out.
Or you could take another approach. You could focus on just making progress every day. Some days you and your kids will have significant gains and learn lots of vocabulary while other days you will be lucky if you even spoke a word in your target language.
Either way, embrace the mentality that the journey is long and that you just have to commit to doing a little bit even if just a tiny effort every day.
Actions to help you teach your kids Spanish
Getting into the right mindset is the only the beginning. Now it’s time for us to think about how to make that little bit of progress every day. Here are some of my favorite activities to use with young language learners.
All good conversations about language development have to start with books. They allow us to introduce new vocabulary to our kids organically. Reading age appropriate books to your kids allow you to in turn teach them age appropriate vocabulary. Books are also an excellent of helping your kids hear the words they already know in a different context! If Spanish is not your native language, books will help you expand your vocabulary as well.
Here are some of my favorite Spanish books to read with my kids:
Play is a child’s work! Regardless of how young or old your child is, playing actively with them can have tremendous impact on their language skills. Make the commitment to play with your kids at least ten minutes a day but ideally 30 minutes a day. Try your very hardest to make this time unplugged for you and for your child. Put the phones and tables to the side.
These interactions will allow you to introduce and strengthen vocabulary simply by following your child’s lead. See what they are interested in playing and just talk as you play. Your child will be hearing you talk about the toys in front of you and will make great associations as they hear a word and see the object.
3.Carve out time in your day
Designate specific times of day to dedicate to language learning. This is particularly helpful if you are just starting out in the language process or if your kids are pushing back on using the language altogether. Make it clear to them when each of your home languages will be spoken. I recommend being consistent the time of day. You will find what works best for your family but some ideas may be after breakfast, after nap, when a parent gets home from work, Saturday mornings as you make lunch together.
The key is to make sure that your children know when they are expected to speak Spanish and when the other language. This creates a need to use the language which is critical for language learning. I often recommend to my members to set a timer that can go off when the language time is over. This makes it really clear for the children when expectations for one language start and end.
Songs and music in general can go a really long way in helping kids and adults with their language learning. Children can memorize songs with relative ease that they can then add to their vocabulary. It’s a great way to still add exposure on those days where you have little to no energy left.
Music is also something you can take along with you! Listen to it at home or in the car while driving with your kids. If you find yourself with limited music resources, I have a step by step guide on how to get your hands on some music in Spanish here.
5.Surround yourself with support!
If I could leave you with one last thought is to surround yourself with a supportive community. The journey is long and it can feel lonely. Often times bilingual parents are the only ones in their circle of friends teaching their kids another language. Connect with other people who are going through a similar journey or are at least supportive of your decision.
It will make a huge difference in your motivation and ability to follow through on your dreams. If you are working on English or Spanish as your target language, check out the Members’ Club. It’s a great way to get support and accountability!
What are some of the other actions you have taken to teach your kids Spanish?