One of the most frequent questions I am asked is “how can a non-native Spanish speaker teach their kids Spanish!?” “What resources are best to teach kids Spanish?”
There are many reasons to learn Spanish, starting with its widespread usage. Even outside the 21 Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, according to the Pew Research, “a record 37.6 million persons speak Spanish at home” in the US. Besides the massive popularity and usefulness for future jobs and travel, there are cognitive benefits. Many parents are hoping their children will be exposed to Spanish, and if possible, begin on a journey of bilingualism. But if a parent does not speak Spanish fluently, can they effectively begin to teach their child? The answer is YES.
Here are my favorite tips and resources for non-native speakers to teach their kids Spanish.
1. Read in Spanish.
Your local library might have a selection of bilingual books, which are really useful to learn vocabulary! Here are my favorite bilingual stories for kids:
Also check out:
2. Watch videos in Spanish
Of course parents should use screens according to their own preferences for times. To support language learning, videos with native speakers offers kids an opportunity to listen to Spanish in context. Here are my favorite video resources:
Spanish youtube videos of popular shows for kids: when kids watch cartoons, half the time they don’t even notice when they are in Spanish :).
Kids’ shows on netflix in Spanish: great for authentic, rich language.
7 awesome youtube channels for tons of Spanish learning videos: lots of songs, clear speaking, made for kids who are learning
3. Do activities together in Spanish
Cook in Spanish: using these videos, make easy (and scrummy!) recipes, play games, make learning to speak easier by listening to bilingual children speak in both English and Spanish.
4. Create a print-rich environment in Spanish
Aside from books, parents teaching kids Spanish can promote bilingual literacy in many ways. See how you can use the follow ideas to create a print-rich Spanish environment in your home:
- bilingual labels
- writing opportunities
- environmental print
- DIY student books
5. Play games in Spanish!
These board games can be played in any language, and promote communication while having fun.
Check out these Spanish games and apps for kids (and adults!) to learn vocabulary, work on grammar and common phrases, practice listening, spelling, be exposed to culture, and more.
5. Immersion (either locally or abroad!)
If you have the opportunity to travel abroad during the summer or holidays, you can immerse your kids in Spanish! We have done summers abroad for language immersion, and have been very successful in finding summer camps and local teachers to help our kids broaden their Spanish.
At times you can’t travel, and it’s so great to find local immersion opportunities:
- story times at the library in Spanish (if not in your neighborhood, look around where more Spanish speakers live! We are very spoiled in Texas with a lot of opportunities but I know this doesn’t exist everywhere).
- bilingual preschool programs (ours is a little drive away, but we love the teachers!)
- Mom’s Club or playgroup with Spanish speakers
- hosting an exchange student or hiring a nanny or babysitter that speaks Spanish
- find a nearby church with Spanish services, and get involved in their community (great way to make friends and form playgroups!)
- shop at local Hispanic supermarkets or dine at Mexican restaurants and talk to the workers for more opportunities!
6. Follow these experts: bilingual moms and teachers with tons of activities!
My favorite Spanish bloggers have INCREDIBLE ideas and posts about teaching kids Spanish! Follow their blogs and facebook for tons of ideas:
If you are interested in world language for kids, check out this HUGE list of language resources from around the world! Lots of languages, and tons of ideas to help get your kids started (or to continue advancing!) on their bilingual journey.