Ideas for Supporting Second Language Learning at Home

Ideas for Supporting Second Language Learning at Home

Try one of these new ideas for supporting your child’s language learning at home – even if you don’t speak the language!  Is your child learning another language in a bilingual or immersion program or from a caregiver?  If so, I’m guessing you have quite a few reasons why you’d like your child to learn a second language.  There are countless benefits to being bilingual! You want to keep encouraging their language growth.

The parents of my students in Spanish immersion classrooms often asked me for ways that they could help with and encourage language use at home.  Here are my top 10 ideas!

1. Incorporate the language into a daily routine

Do you know how to count in Spanish?  Count with your child each day as you pick up the toys or go up/down the steps.  Learn a song or poem to use every time you wake your child up in the morning or ride in the car.  Read a Spanish book together before bed – even if it’s the same one over and over. This post has language learning ideas for everyday routines.

2. Play music

In my house we ask Alexa to “Play songs by Spanish Playtime” or “Play some Spanish kids’ songs”.  Find some engaging music in your target language that you and your kids could have on in the background when you’re home – or for a dance party. Turn on my Spotify playlists for Spanish songs for little kids and big kids, or family-friendly songs to get you started!

3. Have a theme night

Maybe every week you have Taco Tuesday when you make a Mexican dish or a meal from another country where your target language is spoken.  Try to use Spanish as much as you can as a family while you cook or eat together. Utilize this time to spark your child’s interest in learning about other cultures! Explore fun language learning ideas with kids in the kitchen in this post (I also have excellent multicultural food and cooking book posts).

4. Read books

Check out some Spanish books from the library or get some of your own, and learn how to pronounce Spanish words with my pronunciation guide.  My husband has never studied Spanish.  However, I taught him how to read aloud kids’ books in Spanish – even if he doesn’t know exactly what he’s saying!  Take advantage of children’s books in your language at the library.  If your kids can read, grab a few that they’ll be able to read to you! I have our favorite book recommendations in my Resources page.

5. Listen to audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to improve language skills (especially if you have a copy of the book to follow along)!  You might even learn some vocabulary along with your child.  Check your library or online to find some quality children’s audiobooks in your language. There are also many quality language learning podcasts for kids that could be useful for car rides or while at home.

6. Switch languages on your TV shows

Many Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ shows are available in multiple languages, or you could check out Spanish movies from the library if they have them.  If you have a Spanish language channel locally, tune in!  You could even put on subtitles for older kids.

Please check out my post on amazing YouTube channels for kids learning Spanish.

7. Look for community classes/events

Does your community have a Spanish story time at the library?  How about an after-school language class?  My son’s school is just starting an 8-week after-school program that any student can participate in to have fun learning some Spanish.  What about a festival? Cultural museum?  Family language classes?

There are many options for language classes offered online as well – check out classes in a variety of languages on Sawyer or Outschool, for example. Concordia Language Villages here in Minnesota is an awesome resource for family language camps, summer camps, and pre-k programs.

Ways to support language learning at home: 10 Ideas for dual language parents.

8. Visit a restaurant or market

Check out someplace new where your child could practice the language.  My son’s kindergarten class took a field trip to a Mexican restaurant and market where they each got to order lunch in Spanish and buy a little something, too.  They had to practice the phrases/vocabulary they’d need beforehand.  I thought it was such a wonderful idea!  We love taking the kids to local restaurants where they can practice their Spanish – and everywhere we go the staff happily encourages it! Do you have any local supermarkets or restaurants that you could visit?

9. Download a game

If you have a tablet or other device that your kids get to use, there are some excellent learning websites and apps for kids learning other languages.  While we set limits on how long my kids get to use their devices, I appreciate that they can be learning in Spanish when they use them!

A few website recommendations… (more in my Spanish Learning at Home post)

PBS Kids Games in Spanish

Spanish on Literacycenter.net

Rockalingua

10. Set up a language playdate

If your child attends a bilingual school, get to know the other families.  You might invite a classmate over to have a “Spanish evening” or even meet up at the park or library where the kids can practice their language skills together. The key is to make using the target language fun and meaningful. You could even have a language activity they could do together – check out kids’ Youtube videos in your language on activities your child enjoys (like a LEGO building tutorial or a simple craft to complete together in the target language).

Read more about encouraging kids to stick with language learning.

Or, check out fun screen-free Spanish activities for kids here.

You may also like 50 positive affirmations to tell your child in English/Spanish (free printable).

I hope a few of these ideas will work for your family as you empower your child to use their language skills!   Whether they’re just getting started with a second language or looking for a new way to get some practice, a little bit of encouragement can go a long way.  Help them see that practicing can be fun and exciting!

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Find your balance,

Jenna

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