1. By learning it yourself. If you are in the process of learning the Spanish language, there will be so many natural opportunities for teaching your child. If you are studying “kitchen” vocabulary that day, then pass along this knowledge to your toddler. Also this is #1 on the list, because if you are learning Spanish, all other ideas will be so much more effective (as you will be able to back up the methods with your own understanding).
2. Take them to a Spanish Pre-School Class or Program. There may be a Spanish program for toddlers in your area. These “Spanish classes” are usually taught at a language learning center, a pre-school, or a local religious organization. These classes are very beneficial, as they allow children to learn with other children, in a fun setting.
Check Out: Lango – offering foreign language classes for kids in over 70 communities. Spanish Blackbelt – has Spanish classes from toddlers to adults in several states.
3. Have them Watch Spanish Language TV and Movies. By watching the same content that they would normally watch, but in a different language, your child can pick up on certain new words and phrases in a rapid manner. Try choosing SAP if the television program allows it, or selecting the audio track as Spanish when you are streaming movies or on your children’s DVD’s.
Check Out: Hulu Plus – they currently offer several children’s cartoons in the Spanish language. Netflix – they are adding more and more Spanish language children’s content as time goes by.
4. Read Bilingual Books with Them. Reading books is the most powerful way to gain new vocabulary and language understanding. Your child will focus on a few things: the pictures, your voice, your emotion, and the words they see on the page. This creates an idea situation for acquiring new vocabulary and connecting new words to images and emotions.
Check Out: BookLingual – specially designed bilingual eBooks with talking audio included for pronunciation help. Language Lizard – an e-tailer offering a large selection of bilingual books for purchase. SmartMouthLearning – another website offering many books, includes Spanish only children’s books.
5. By Listening to Music and Singing Along. Can you remember any songs from your childhood? Chances are, you can. Listening to rhythmic songs with lyrics composed for easy learning, helps to gain new words. Your son or daughter will be singing away after hearing these songs a few times, and you will be happy the words are “sticking.”
Check Out: Sing with Señor – offering an album of infectious songs filled with basic Spanish words. Boca Beth – offers some great music CD’s, worksheets, DVD’s, and other options. Habla Blah Blah – fun and free Spanish music videos for kids.
6. By Visiting a Spanish Speaking Country. This will be a fun vacation, and an opportunity for your child to be exposed to the Spanish language. Even at a young age, your child will feel that their Spanish learning will have more of a purpose, as you can refer back to your child’s memory of this trip.
Check Out: Riviera Maya, Mexico – the Yucatan peninsula is quite a splendid place to visit: if you are into the extreme or just want to lie on the beach. San Juan, Puerto Rico – not far from the US mainland, filled with historic mystery. Barcelona, Spain – a Spanish city which includes much more than grand cathedrals and Spanish.
7. Use some Language Learning DVD’s or Stream Spanish Learning Material. There is a wide array of language learning DVD’s and Spanish content that can be streamed designed for toddlers. These can be helpful for building a basic foundation of vocabulary in Spanish.
Check Out: Little Pim has a great set of DVD’s which teach child basic Spanish words. Dino Lingo also offers DVD’s and streaming content for kids, with animations of dinosaurs as the main characters.
8. By Celebrating a Tradition Native to a Spanish Speaking Country. Why not celebrate a tradition from Mexico – such as Día de Los Muertos. Or, make some tamales together.
Check Out: SpanglishBaby is a blog dedicated to giving you ideas and inspiration for celebrating both cultures.
9. By Learning More about How to Raise a Fully Bilingual Child. By beginning to teach your toddler Spanish at a young age, you are setting them up for great success! Not only should you consider learning Spanish yourself, but you need to take time out to understand how and why children become fully bilingual. A few good reads will do the trick.
10. Planning for Kindergarten at a Dual Language Immersion School. Is there a dual language immersion school in your area? If so, this would be an incredible opportunity for your child. Dual Language schools teach about half of the time in English and half of the time in Spanish. This method of teaching is highly beneficial, as your child will not only learn how to speak Spanish, but read and write in the language, as well.
Check Out: Google “dual language immersion school (yourcity)” – and get to researching. If a program is not yet available, don’t fret. Make your bilingual action plan, do the “ideas” listed in this article, and your child can become fully fluent.