Endless laundry? Words for clothes are some of a child’s earliest vocabulary. Getting dressed and undressed, folding clothes, putting clothes away – all of these activities tie language to movement and context. You can teach your child Spanish words for clothing by incorporating Spanish into these routines.
It is best to introduce new vocabulary in small quantities. Introduce a few new Spanish words and then when your child is familiar with them, introduce a few more. Click here for ideas on how to introduce Spanish vocabulary and here for more suggestions on teaching vocabulary.
Clothes vocabulary varies widely from country to country. I have provided common equivalents, with a few regional variations. Some items of clothing, such as socks, have many different types. In these cases I have provided a general word that is understood in most of the Spanish-speaking world.
You can check the Spanish pronunciation of any vocabulary word by putting the Spanish word in the on-line dictionary at Spanishdict.com.
blouse – la blusa
cap – la gorra; la cachucha (Mexico)
coat – el abrigo
dress – el vestido
flip flops – las chanclas
jacket – la chamarra (Mexico); la chaqueta
jeans – los pantalones de mezclilla (Mexico); los vaqueros
pajamas – la pijama (Mexico); el pijama
pants – los pantalones
sandals – las sandalias
shirt (for boy or girl) – la camisa
shoes – los zapatos
shorts – el pantalón corto, el short
skirt – la falda
socks- los calcetines
sweatshirt – la sudadera
swimming suit – el traje de baño
tennis shoes – los tenis
T-shirt – la playera (Mexico); la camiseta
underwear – los calzones (boys and girls), la truza (boys, Mexico)
Because Spanish vocabulary varies so much from country to country, it is sometimes hard to know which words to use with children in a minority-language situation. My advice is to be as consistent as possible in teaching vocabulary from one region. Children will have many opportunities to expand their Spanish vocabularies, but it is logical to have their principal word choice reflect one place. My children were raised with standard Mexican Spanish. Because my oldest daughter lives in Lima, she has now adopted many words used in Peru.
Incorporate these Spanish words for clothes into your daily routines.
When your child is getting dressed or undressed:
Ponte…– Put on…
Ponte los zapatos. – Put on your shoes.
Ponte la camisa y un short. – Put on a t-shirt and shorts.
Quítate… – Take off …
Quítate los zapatos. – Take off your shoes.
Quítate la camisa. – Take off your t-shirt.
¿Dónde está tu sudadera? – Where is your sweatshirt?
¿Dónde están tus zapatos? – Where are your shoes?
Busca…- Look for
Busca tus chanclas. – Look for your flip-flops.
Busca tu chamarra. – Look for your jacket.
When you are folding clothes or putting them away, talk about what you are holding.
Estos son los calcetines de tu hermana. – These are your sister’s socks.
Estos son tus pantalones de mezclilla. – These are your jeans.
When you are reading or looking at pictures, describe the clothes you see.
La camiseta es roja. – The t-shirt is red.
Los zapatos son blancos. – The shoes are white.
¡Qué camisa bonita! – What a pretty shirt!
Me gusta el vestido. – I like the dress.
So, looking at the bright side of domestic chores, endless laundry offers endless opportunities to speak Spanish with your child.
Have fun! ¡Diviértanse!