A text-rich environment is very important for children learning Spanish. One of the difficulties of teaching Spanish as a minority language is that children are not exposed to the written language the way they constantly see signs, labels and advertisements in English. It is important to keep an interesting, changing flood of Spanish text at home and in classrooms.
Here are 15 ways to create a world of Spanish words in your home.
1. Make Wordles of poems, songs, or words your kids are learning to hang on the refrigerator or decorate a door.
2. Use a screen saver in Spanish on your computer. You can have quotes or messages to your kids scroll across your screen. There are also programs for using your photos with captions as a screen saver.
3. Look for refrigerator magnets in Spanish. Cafe Press has lots, from limpo-sucio for the dishwasher, to Que linda manito que tiene el bebé, que linda, que bella que preciosa es. Zazzle has Spanish magnets too, including this not very funny joke. The language is good even if the joke doesn’t make you laugh. You can get this simple birthday magnet from Amazon for $0.99.
4. Change the interface on your home phone to Spanish.
5. Subscribe to Spanish language magazines, or a Spanish language newspaper, if your community has one. Keep them where they are easily accessible to read and discuss. We still keep new issues of magazines in the kitchen, although now that the kids are older the selection has changed.
6. Buy or make Spanish language cards for each other and display them after birthdays and holidays.
7. Buy or make wrapping paper with Spanish words. If you make your own, you can write holiday greetings, label pictures, or decorate the paper with a personal message.
8. Use a Spanish language calendar. There are many different styles.
9. Write notes to your children and put them in different places. The notes can be very simple, comment on anything at all, and they are a chance to say te quiero, again.
10. Make or buy posters with Spanish text. Hang them where your children will see them, in their line of vision if possible, and change them regularly.
11. Make picture frames and decorate them with Spanish words. There are lots of printable picture frames on line. These have text boxes, but you will have to write in the accent marks. They have lots of designs and places to add Spanish words and phrases.
12. Have Spanish language maps or a Spanish language globe where children can see them and you can talk about them.
13. Use paper place mats or blank paper from a paper roll as a table cloth and decorate them with Spanish words and phrases.
14. Make photo albums and write about the pictures in Spanish.
15. Keep a Spanish journal with your child. Write a little bit, even just a line or two, about what you did during the day.
Life can be so busy that it is hard to find time to read for enjoyment, but if at all possible it is important to model literacy in Spanish. If your child sees you choosing to read in Spanish, whether it be magazines, cookbooks, novels or websites, it is much more likely that she will also choose to read in Spanish someday. Make sure that part of your text-rich space is devoted to Spanish language that you enjoy!