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!
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 fun kids’ 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.
3. Have a theme night
Maybe every week you have Taco Tuesday when you make a Mexican (or other Spanish-speaking country) dish. Try to use Spanish as much as you can while you cook or eat together.
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.
6. Switch languages on your TV shows
Many Netflix shows are available in Spanish, 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.
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?
Concordia Language Villages here in Minnesota is an awesome resource for family language camps, summer camps, and pre-k programs (my son did a short Spanish camp one week last summer).
8. Visit a restaurant or market
Check out someplace new where your child could practice Spanish. 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!
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!
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.
I hope a few of these ideas will work for your family as you empower your child to use his language skills! Whether he is 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 him see that practicing can be fun and exciting!