Spanish immersion at home: seven ways to create an engaging environment to help kids learn at home
There are a few questions I’ve heard many times over the years as a bilingual teacher and mom. Questions like “How can I help my child practice Spanish at home when I don’t speak Spanish?” Or “How can we keep up the Spanish learning over the summer?” Or even “What are some fun ways to practice Spanish at home – even if I only know a little?”
If your child is learning a minority language like Spanish at school or at daycare, perhaps you’re wondering how you can begin to help at home. I’d love to help you find ways to surround your child with Spanish – so they have a need to use their language skills in a fun way.
Spanish immersion at home doesn’t have to mean traveling abroad or expensive language tutors. These are simple and practical ideas for how you could help your child with their minority language skills at home – whether you speak a little or a lot!
Read on to find 7 ways to surround your child with Spanish at home. Try one, then another, and continue adding on until you and your child are learning and practicing Spanish together every day!
I hope that you can personalize and adapt these ideas to make the language practice the most meaningful for your own child. Keep your child in mind as you read and think about what would get them interested, excited, and engaged!
While the ideas in this post could be adapted for language learners of any age, I also have another post specifically for adults: 10 Ideas for Practicing Spanish as an Adult.
1. Label It!
Label the items in your home to provide daily exposure to Spanish vocabulary. Your child will quickly learn the words for sillas (chairs), puertas (doors), and estantes para libros (bookshelves) when reading and playing at home. These words around your rooms are called environmental print, and they can promote your child’s language and literacy skills!
I have a whole post on Creating a Print-Rich Home with Object Labels in which you’ll find FREE printable object labels in English and Spanish. You’ll also find tips and tricks for utilizing them for language learning!
2. Turn On The Música
Spanish kids’ music is one of our absolute must-haves in our daily routine! We listen to music while we get ready in the morning, in the car, and while we’re playing or preparing dinner. It has been so incredibly fun to discover the songs my three kids love and want to hear again and again.
Music can be used passively – playing in the background while you’re spending time together. Repetition is great, so find a playlist or a few artists that your child is excited about.
Or, it can be used more actively! For example, you might learn the words to one of your favorite songs – printing out the lyrics and posting them on the fridge. You could also listen to themed songs related to vocabulary that you’re learning – we’re listening to Halloween and Día de los muertos songs at the moment!
My favorite place to find free music is on Spotify – and I’d love to get your family started with my own playlists. Check them out to get the Spanish music party started!
I also have playlists for Christian worship music in English and Spanish, my favorite Spanish K-2 classroom songs, and Spanish Christmas kids’ music! Find Bilingual Balance on Spotify to access them all.
3. Create a Home Library
Starting a Spanish home library doesn’t have to be hard or expensive! Giving your child access to quality Spanish children’s books at home will help you prioritize reading together in the minority language.
One idea to do this is to grab a basket you already have at home and designate it for Spanish books only. Keep it in a special location where your child can see and choose them. Or, choose a specific shelf or other place you’ll keep your Spanish language books.
Head to your local library to pick out Spanish children’s books together so you both know you have some interesting ones. If your library doesn’t have many, ask them about using interlibrary loan to access some from other libraries. You can also explore audiobooks (a great way to incorporate listening comprehension skills!) or digital books. There are endless options online!
4. Make Screen Time Spanish Time
Does your child have a daily screen time? Perhaps they’re watching a movie, enjoying a TV show, or playing a game. Whatever your child likes to do on their tablet or TV, it can be done in Spanish!
Watching a movie or a show in Spanish introduces new vocabulary, engages your child in something they’re interested in, and enhances listening comprehension skills. Many shows on programs like Netflix or Disney+ can be switched to different languages. Choose Spanish for the audio selection – and add Spanish subtitles for older kids!
Or, turn to websites like YouTube to find some quality Spanish language videos and shows. I’ve got a round-up of our favorite Spanish YouTube Channels for Kids!
In this post, you can also find our favorite choices for using games and interactive websites online for using Spanish: Free Online Spanish Learning for Kids.
5. Switch Your Routine to Spanish!
When you think about your family’s daily routines, you’re thinking about opportunities to maximize language input! Each routine that you do again and again, every day, presents a chance to practice language skills. So which of your daily routines could you switch to Spanish today?
It might be getting ready in the morning or the car rides to school. It could be making dinner in the evening or reading aloud to your child. Perhaps you can make a change for one routine each day, or perhaps you make it Spanish certain days of the week. Every little bit counts!
Daily routine posts:
- Using Daily Routines to Teach Your Child a Second Language
- Daily Routine Conversations in Spanish
- Bilingual Daily Routine & Chore Cards (free printable!)
6. Add Themed Vocabulary
I love creating opportunities to learn and practice themed vocabulary with my kids! It’s simple because I use what’s already going on in our lives to add in a bit of language learning.
Whether it’s the season we’re in (think autumn-inspired vocabulary), a holiday coming up (Halloween science experiments or Día de los muertos books), or another topic that interests your child! The possibilities are endless when you can pinpoint a specific theme to learn about together. What does your child love?
You might choose a handful of new vocabulary words directly from a favorite book (my favorite way to introduce new words). Or, you might teach your child several new words around an experience – like going to the zoo or the apple orchard.
Write out the new words and display them in your home to practice together. Here are some fun ideas: use window markers on a window or mirror, post-it notes on the fridge, or pictures and words on a paper or bulletin board!
Related post: Easy Screen-Free Spanish Activities for Kids
7. Switch Your Device Language
How about switching a device you use at home to Spanish? We have an Alexa that my kids are surprisingly adept at using – and it can be switched to Spanish.
I’ve learned that the more cues and tools I have to keep me thinking about using Spanish at home, the more consistent we are in our language learning plans. For this reason, I also have my cell phone language set to Spanish.
Can your child’s laptop, tablet, or other device be switched to Spanish? This would be an excellent option for older children who are getting stronger in their language skills.
In the home, it requires you to use Spanish – talking to Alexa, for example – without much extra effort. One last step in creating the ultimate Spanish immersion environment for your family at home!
More language learning posts:
- 7 Strategies to Get Your Child to Speak the Minority Language
- Encouraging Your Child to Stick with Second Language Learning
- How to Raise Bilingual Children: Family Language Plans
Spanish Immersion at Home
These seven ideas will help you surround your family with Spanish throughout the day! Music, books, cooking together or enjoying a show – your child will see, hear, and engage in Spanish. Add one of these Spanish immersion ideas into your family’s day today, and then come back to grab a new idea later!
I hope this post was helpful for your family or your class. Please share this post to share the Spanish love with more families!
What other ideas for immersion at home would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below to share with other families! Or find Bilingual Balance on social media. I’d love to connect with you!