Looking for a blueprint to begin the bilingual learning process? Oftentimes parents get overwhelmed trying to be the instructor of bilingual learning. BookLingual is here to provide you with 10 ways to teach your toddler Spanish. Whether you are looking to begin the process, or are looking for ways to improve your action plan, this article is for you.
1. By learning it yourself
This is probably the most important step in your bilingual action plan, but quite often the most overlooked. 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. This is #1 on the list for a reason. Your child will always mimic the actions of those he/she sees the most. The more you embrace the language, the more your toddler will too. If you are learning Spanish, all other ideas will be so much more effective. It will allow you the ability to back up the methods with your understanding.
Check Out: SpanishDict.Com for a completely free learning curriculum! Rosetta Stone is a popular Spanish program for learning some basic Spanish. “Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish” by Joseph Keenan is an outstanding resource for beginners. A local tutor is also a good idea to practice actual conversations.
2. Take them to a children’s Language Class
There may be a children’s language class in your area. These “Spanish classes” are often 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. Your child needs to learn from others, as well as yourself.
3. Have them Watch Spanish Language Video’s, Television, and Movies
Watch short language learning videos that are designed for toddlers. Start with a maximum of 30 minutes a day to not try and overload your child with this method. Watching different language programs has never been easier with technology. Your toddler can watch the same content they normally watch but in a different language. This helps your child pick up on certain new words and phrases in a rapid manner. Try choosing SAP if the television program allows it, select the Spanish audio track while streaming children’s shows and movies.
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 regularly. Youtube – they have videos that are free and a great resource for teaching kids Spanish.
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 ideal situation for acquiring new vocabulary and connecting new words to images and emotions. This step can be difficult if you do not speak Spanish. It is extremely difficult to teach a language that you don’t know and understand. Incorrect pronunciation can be detrimental to learning progress. If you do not speak the language, purchase programs that include read-aloud audio. This will allow your toddler to hear the words with the correct pronunciation.
Check Out: BookLingual – specially designed bilingual eBooks with talking audio included for pronunciation help. Language Lizard – offers a large selection of bilingual books for purchase. Amazon – offers a ton of children’s Spanish and bilingual books.
5. 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. You can listen to Spanish songs in the car and at home. Make it more exciting by singing and dancing to the music. Your child will begin 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. SpanishMama – offers some great music CD’s. Habla Blah Blah – fun and free Spanish music videos for kids.
6. 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 that includes much more than grand cathedrals and Spanish.
There is a wide array of language learning apps and Spanish content that can be streamed and designed for toddlers. These can help build a basic foundation of vocabulary in Spanish.
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. Research Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries together, and let them learn the language as a byproduct of learning about places around the world.
Check Out: SpanglishBaby is a blog dedicated to giving you ideas and inspiration for celebrating both cultures.
9. 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.
Check Out: 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child – a great, easy read which will get you on the right track. Bilingual is Better – an account of two bilingual moms, how they are raising their children, and how the world is changing due to bilingualism in this country.
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 (your city)” – and research what is available near you. 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.
So there you have it, 10 ways to teach your toddler Spanish. There is no better time to get started with the resources provided. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit booklingual.com for additional resources and dual-language books to add to your bilingual journey.