Another year is about to begin. This is a good time for families to take stock of where their children are in learning Spanish. As I was raising my three kids speaking Spanish, I asked myself how to make the most of our time together to enhance their language skills. Today I’m sharing the resolutions for Spanish learning that I came back to again and again, in the hope that they will be helpful to you.
Have more fun!
Play more games. Find fun apps. Listen and dance to new music. Find movies or a TV series to watch together.
Be more consistent.
A little bit of Spanish every day goes a long way. When you are too busy for other things, listen to music in the car or read a bedtime story.
Be more creative.
Any activity can be a language activity. Take advantage of the amazing game and craft ideas on Pinterest and do them in Spanish.
Be more realistic.
Your child needs to be exposed to new language to develop Spanish skills, but should not be overwhelmed. Assess what your child does and does not know. Provide comprehensible input at the correct level. Read more about comprehensible language here. Consider what skills your child needs to develop and provide the opportunity to practice.
Provide more text.
Invest in books and magazines and read them together. Fill your home with text in Spanish. You can find ideas for creating a print-rich environment here.
Include more culture.
Look for age appropriate, culturally-rich content. Authentic language stories, poems, music and proverbs communicate values and cultural perspectives. Acquiring a knowledge and understanding of the history of Spain and Latin America is also key for children learning Spanish.
Include more repetition.
Children are continually exposed to the community language, but depend on teachers and parents to provide the necessary repetition to learn a second language. That means a lot of repetition. Repeat vocabulary, structures and concepts in different formats and contexts. Continue to come back to them over and over.
Make more connections.
Connect Spanish to your child’s interests. Relate it to what she is learning about science, math, art and music. The more relevant and related concepts are, the easier they are to understand and retain.
Create more community.
Raising a child with two (or more) languages is hard work. A supportive network of family and friends makes the process easier and more fun. Start a playgroup, skype with family members or find support in online communities.
Be more supportive and more patient.
Language learning takes time and effort. There is a good chance that your child knows how much you want her to speak Spanish. Try to be supportive without introducing undue stress or pressure. Be confident that your child will learn and enjoy the journey together!