Reasons for teaching your child Spanish and how to deal with obstacles.

Most parents understand that learning another language has benefits for children. However, like most worthwhile endeavors, structuring language learning takes work. I often hear parents justify why their children are not learning Spanish. Here are 10 of the worst reasons for not teaching your child Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish.

Children acquire many skills their parents don’t have, such as playing musical instruments or ballet. You will need help from professionals to structure your child’s learning, but there are many ways you can support your child even if you don’t speak Spanish.

I’m not qualified. I don’t even know where to start.

I hear this from many parents, including native speakers. Learning a language is a complex process. You need a plan, but you do not have to be a teacher to help your child learn. You do need to assess your situation and choose an approach that is right for your family. Understanding the basics of language learning is very helpful. Start by reading 5 Language Learning Concepts You Need to Understand to Raise a Bilingual Child. There are also excellent books available such as Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children.

It’s expensive.

There is no doubt that over the years you will invest in the process, as you invest in other aspects of your child’s education. The cost, however, does not have to be prohibitive. There are many excellent, free resources online. Whether you are supplementing a school program or working independently, take advantage of these. Mi mundo en palabras and Salsa are good places to start. There are also a variety of reasonably-priced programs available for teaching your child Spanish.

I don’t have time.

We continually make choices about how we spend time. Language learning is worth making time for. Fortunately, Spanish is mobile and learning can happen in any situation (unlike learning to play the piano). Whether your child is taking a class or learning at home, you can build Spanish into daily routines like driving, mealtime and bedtime.

I can’t teach her about culture.

Cultural competence is not the exclusive domain of native speakers. You can teach your child to be open-minded and culturally aware. Learning about the values, views and various aspects of different cultures will make your child’s life richer.

She doesn’t want to learn Spanish.

Really? Are you sure? Learning Spanish is fun! It is music, games and stories. It is new people and places. Learning a new language is an immensely rewarding experience. If your child is not enjoying the process, rethink the situation and approach, but not the goal of teaching your child Spanish.

No one in our area speaks Spanish, so she doesn’t need to learn it.

If that is true, it won’t be for long. You also have no way of knowing where your child will live in the future. The odds are that speaking Spanish will be an advantage, if not a necessity.

We can’t travel to provide an immersion experience.

Children can learn language without traveling to other countries. Also, you never know what the future holds. Life is full of surprises and you may indeed spend time in a Spanish-speaking country.

Her Spanish will never be perfect.

That is probably true, but perfection isn’t the point. The purpose of learning Spanish is to communicate. Fortunately, humans have the ability to communicate remarkably well with a range of language skills. How good your child’s Spanish ultimately becomes will depend on her motivation and experiences. Regardless of that endpoint, teaching your child Spanish will enhance her education and enrich her life.

She has many other opportunities.

Of course she does, but none of them is more valuable than speaking Spanish. Teaching your child Spanish will enhance her education and experiences in ways you cannot imagine.

CC image by GollyGforce

Puerto Rican Culture: Families of the World DVD Giveaway
Candlewick Press: Spanish Favorites for Kids