Perhaps you’re fluent in Spanish or know the basics, but your kids are not picking up the language as quickly as you’d hoped. You may think it’s because you live in the United States or that you don’t have enough time to teach them. Whatever the reason, don’t get discouraged just yet. Here are seven simple ideas for learning Spanish. Don’t miss out on the chance to make your child bilingual!
1. Get an intercambio.
Exchanging one good or service for another can be easy and a money-saver. When I studied in Spain, I put up a flyer for an intercambio in order to learn basic Spanish. I would meet other students from the University of Granada for informal tutoring sessions in conversation and writing and offer them English classes in exchange. I have also done this in the U.S. and found that meeting with people from a variety of countries helped me gain exposure to different Spanish-language regionalisms. Maybe your tween or teen knows a fluent Spanish-speaker at school? Have the student teach your child Spanish in exchange for help in a subject they want to learn. For young children, you can offer to babysit for a trusted Spanish-speaking friend who has kids in exchange for some lessons, or enlist the help of a family that knows Spanish, to expose your child to the language.
2. Learn online.
How would you like an instructor straight from la madre patria, España? Learn in the comfort of your own home by checking out the website, The Spanish Blog. Lessons abound for beginner, intermediate, and advanced language practice for all ages. Laura Garrido Eslava is an instructor from Bilbao, Spain who offers Spanish lessons on the Internet. If you’d like to sample her teaching first, watch her free videos on her website. You can hire Laura for private sessions or for small group classes via Skype.
3. What would a gamer do?
For those who like to use the Internet, Babbel online is a guessing game. OnlineFreeSpanish.com also offers enjoyable games ranging from easy to hard. Leapster also offers learning games with popular Disney characters. Try playing the traditional Mexican Bingo Game called Lotería. Kids—especially middle schoolers—love to learn in a social setting whether its with their parents, friends or other students. Games lend themselves to social interaction and provide informal educational fun.
4. Seek out educational websites.
The bilingual website, ¡Colorín colorado!, is for reading and learning in both languages. You can also learn more about Latino authors and illustrators such as Rafael López, Lulu Delacre, Pat Mora, and more. The website has tabs in the left-hand column to get the information in both English and Spanish.
5. Stock up on bilingual books.
My House, Mi Casa by Rebecca Emberley, a book in two languages, introduces young readers to Spanish. There are basic sentences paving the way to absorbing and reinforcing language. Pages are filled with colorful images that are clearly labeled for easy understanding. Barron’s Hide and Speak Spanish is another wonderful option that’s filled with basic vocabulary words centered around a theme. The sentences are written in both English and Spanish and vocabulary words are reinforced in isolation, serving as a mini picture dictionary. For readers with a foundation in both languages, check out bilingual books written by the popular children’s writer and illustrator, Lois Ehlert. Moon Rope, adapted from a Peruvian folktale, is infused with Ehlert’s love of bold images and pre-Columbian artwork.
6. Make a simple book.
You and your child can also create your own bilingual children’s book. First, go out and purchase some basic art supplies or an inexpensive kit that includes paper, stickers, and an album. Then, write about your memories together in both languages. It will be something you can both read year after year.
7. Think comida!
Food is another way to entice language-learning. Next time you dine at an old-style Latino or Spanish restaurant, ask the staff if you can take home some of their paper menus. Then, use them with your beginner at the dinner table to practice ordering food. These props can also be used for pretend play for the little ones. You can also find the recipes online and create meals from the menu right in your own kitchen. And wouldn’t your child be thrilled to create his or her bilingual cookbook with these recipes? Try out this simple eco-friendly idea on Squidoo.