In Spanish, verbs change to match the subject of the sentence. Children learn Spanish verb forms if they are exposed to them, that is, if they have the chance to hear the different Spanish variations of the verb. One of the simplest ways to expose a child to verbs forms is to use the yo (I ) and tú (you) forms of common verbs in situations where it is obvious what you are saying. A great verb to start with is the Spanish verb for “to go” – ir, used in the structure “I am going to…”
Ir – to go Ir is the Spanish infinitive. In this form it has not been changed to match any person doing the action.
Voy a… – I am going to…
Vas a… – You are going to…
¿Vas a …? (said as a question) – Are you going to…?
Voy a and vas a can be combined with other verbs to say what you are going to do, or with a place to say where you are going. Your child may already be familiar with some Spanish verbs from books, songs or the phrase Vamos a meaning “let’s.” (For more information on using this common Spanish structure, click here.) Use voy a and vas a in situations like the ones that follow.
When you are going to get a snack, or about to eat something:
Voy a comer. – I am going to eat.
¿Vas a comer? – Are you going to eat?
If your child has a book:
Vas a leer. – You are going to read.
Voy a leer también. – I am going to read too.
As you go to the kitchen (or another room):
Voy a la cocina ( al baño, a la sala). – I’m going to the kitchen ( the bathroom, the living room)
¿Vas también? – Are you going too?
Playing outside, as you start to run:
¿Vas a correr? – Are you going to run?
Voy a correr. – I’m going to run.
Vas a dormir. – You are going to sleep.
Voy a dormir también. – I’m going to sleep too.
Obviously, there are many situations like these everyday. Here are a few more verbs that you might use. Look up other verbs in Spanish to talk about your child’s activities.
cantar – to sing
beber/tomar – to drink
descansar – to rest
esperar – to wait
mirar (la tele, un video) – to watch (TV, a video)
The important thing is to state the obvious. The situation and your actions should make the meaning of the Spanish words clear. So, narrate your actions, and ask your child questions with obvious answers. That is how she will hear and learn how Spanish works.