Have you always wanted to teach your child a second language?
Did you get overwhelmed with all the different aspects and that motivation fizzled out?
Or maybe you just don’t know where to start??
If one of these scenarios describes you, then you have come to the right spot! Keep reading to discover 5 tried and true tips that will help you on this wonderful bilingual adventure.
Taking 20-30 minutes a day to read to a child may seem like a chore but it reaps great benefits. It is important for a child to hear how words are pronounced as well as associate them with a visual or image. Picture books are wonderful for this!!
We go to the library often but unfortunately the Spanish section only consists of one lonely shelf. This is where you can get a little creative. Go ahead and check out the english book but try to play translator and translate as you go. Even if the story is simplified, your child won’t know the difference. Remember the important part is for them to hear the new words!
Toddler tip: Instead of just reading through the book, point to the different objects as you name them. They have a short attention span so the extra interaction helps keep their interest longer.
It is very helpful to establish a location (i.e. home, the kitchen, in the car, etc) or a specific time (i.e power hour of language, 6-6:30 each day, etc) when the second language is to be spoken. This adds an accountability measure in your goal. If you are familiar with SMART goals, it is part of the “S” or specific goal. For example my goal could be: I am going to speak spanish to my children in my home daily.
You can modify it to fit your lifestyle and different ages your children are.
I choose to speak Spanish to my toddler when we are at home. This is a hefty goal and I slip frequently into english but it is important to remember that some spanish is better than none.
3. Learning Activities
Children are fun magnets and love the time to play and explore. Why not sneak in some learning opportunities while we’re at it? I firmly believe that with a little creativity and silliness you can make learning fun — AND you DON’T have to be a teacher.
Right now, my favorite game to play with my toddler is kind of a hide-n-seek game. I say ‘where is ____?’ and let my toddler find or point to that object. We are also learning animal sounds so saying the animal in Spanish helps him match the name with the sound and picture.
There are many games that you can modify into learning games. Check out this post to get some great ideas!
Music is a wonderful learning tool. My toddler discovered “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on youtube and now calls stars “up a” because he heard “up above the world so high…” and associated it with star. I realize that it isn’t the correct word but it was interesting to me to see the teaching aspect happening in real life.
Although I don’t understand all the scientific research behind how it works, I did grow up in a home where we sang catchy kids songs and find myself singing songs to help myself remember something. It is that fun factor that kids are looking for — plus it’s pretty cute watching them dance to the music.
5. Group Activity
Group learning activities can be exciting and motivating to some children and adults alike. The peer pressure in these environments can encourage learning because:
1. they see others their age doing the same thing
2. they want to do their best to receive praise instead of embarrassment.
3. competition/games motivate them
It is also helpful to be around others who are learning to provide a fun and safe environment to practice speaking.
Although I haven’t done this with my toddler, I found it very helpful in my Spanish learning journey. I remember that we would occasionally play team games and the competition aspect made it fun.