Hampton Lutheran offers weekly Spanish classes to kindergarten through sixth grade students. To make the most of this opportunity for your kid to learn Spanish, it’s helpful if you encourage your child learn Spanish at home, too.
Practicing Spanish at home helps your child grow even more in their language skills. There’s only so much that can be taught once a week in the classroom—to really learn the language, you have to practice, practice, practice! Encouraging your kid to practice their pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar at home will help those weekly Spanish lessons stick.
5 Ways to Help Your Child Learn Spanish at Home
The core components of learning a language are reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension. Here are five ways to help your child learn Spanish at home by practicing these components together.
1. Watch movies in Spanish
A great way to help your kid learn Spanish is to watch a familiar movie with them in Spanish. Luckily, several Disney movies are in Spanish on Netflix. Watch one of your kid’s favorite movies in Spanish with Spanish captions and have your child repeat some of the words and phrases they recognize.
2. Read (easier) books in Spanish
Reading simple books in Spanish is a great way to help your child improve their vocabulary and reading.
Pick Spanish books that are two or three reading levels below your kid’s English reading level. It helps if it’s a book they’re familiar with in English or has recognizable characters (like Marvel or Frozen books!). You can find lots of children’s books in Spanish on Amazon, or look for the foreign language section in your local bookstore.
Read the books in Spanish out loud together. Talk about new words and use pictures and illustrations to make connections to new vocabulary words. If you come across a word your kid doesn’t know, try to figure it out from context clues or look it up in an English-Spanish online dictionary.
3. ¡Repita, por favor!
When your kid is starting to learn a language, it’s important to inspire confidence in them and celebrate their successes. To build their confidence, use repeatable phrases in your conversations with your child to show them that they can easily communicate in Spanish even if they don’t know a lot of words.
For instance, say “por favor” rather than “please” and “gracias” for “thank you.” Learn a few words for dinner time: “pasame la sal” means “pass me the salt,” and “pasame (word)” can be used for many different nouns that your kid will learn in school. Make it a fun, cooperative experience where everyone becomes comfortable with the phrases together.
4. Use child-friendly language learning apps
Encourage your kid to use educational apps that can help them learn Spanish during their screen time. Apps like Duolingo, Droplets: Drops for Kids, and Gus on the Go let kids learn Spanish through games and challenges. These apps are designed to hold a child’s attention but are short enough that your kid won’t need to spend long periods of time in front of the iPad. You can also do activities on these apps with your kid and pick up some Spanish yourself!
5. Practice Spanish at home together
Practicing Spanish together at home is important, especially when your kid is just learning the language. Learning a new language can be fun and intriguing at first, but it’s very hard—even for adults—to stay motivated and interested in a language if you have no one else to speak it with.
Speak as much Spanish as you can together. Watch the movies in Spanish with your kid, read Spanish books together, do language learning apps together. You’ll begin to pick up the language too, and you’ll be able to help each other learn.
Don’t be frustrated when you can’t make full sentences in Spanish right away. Say what you can. Use Spanglish. Make mistakes. Show your child it’s okay to make mistakes as they learn Spanish—in fact, making mistakes is guaranteed! Learning a language is a fantastic way to teach kids to graciously accept criticism and use it to their advantage. And if you’re also learning Spanish and making mistakes, they won’t feel so alone.