Spanish is a language is spoken far beyond the borders of Spain. In fact it is an official language in 20 different countries, and it has a combined total of 440 million native speakers worldwide.
It will therefore be of no surprise to hear that there are a whole host of reasons to learn Spanish. The Spanish you learn could be conversational so that you know a few words and phrases to be able to communicate with the locals in Argentina, Chile, or Peru.
You might choose to study Spanish in a more grammatical way in order to take the test at the end of a Spanish program, or for use in your job, either at home or abroad.
Whatever it is, improving your language skills in Spanish will be an undeniable asset in your professional and social life. If you are reading this and wondering if there is an age limit for learning Spanish, then rest assured that there isn't.
However, the earlier you start, the easier it will be for you in the long run. In fact, if you are reading this and thinking that your children might benefit from learning Spanish, we are here to ask: why wait?!
Teaching Spanish to kids is a great idea that will put them ahead of the curve both in their Spanish course at school, and at university if they choose to study languages.
However, you will need to know how to go about doing this as the learning methods used by adults (Spanish immersion, doing a language course, going to a Spanish language school etc) differ slightly from how you should try to engage your kids in their Spanish language learning.
So here are a number of different methods you can use to ensure that your little ones can speak the language of Cervantes as soon as possible! ¡Vámonos! (Let’s go!)
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How to Speak Spanish for Kids: With the Help of a Tablet
Children nowadays are very quick to familiarise themselves with touchscreens, smartphones, and tablets. Rather than have them play fruit ninja or angry birds, you could let them learn more about Spanish while having fun.
As a new learner, there are plenty of free Spanish resources to help your child to learn to speak their new language quickly.
In the modern age, if you want your child to learn to speak Spanish, you really have no excuse. While it's unlikely that they'll gain fluency using these particular resources, there are websites where you learn Spanish online and you can choose different language courses depending on your level.
For example, the Fun Spanish app is aimed at children between 3 and 10 years old and includes a number of different games for teaching children how to read, spell, and write in Spanish. It is a good app for them to be introduced to the alphabet, as well as some basic verbs.
Of course, there are plenty of free websites with games for teaching children how to speak Spanish.
If your child likes teddy bears, you could opt for the Little Pim method which comes with a really cute panda toy, a school bag, and different ways to learn Spanish. This solution is based on repetition and includes DVDs for learning Spanish words. These kinds of Spanish classes near me can make speaking Spanish fun.
Learn Spanish for Children with Cartoons
Cartoons shouldn’t be avoided at all costs! In fact, foreign language cartoons can be great ways to give parents some respite while also teaching the children some basic Spanish phrases, including the correct pronunciation of those phrases.
Watching cartoons in their second language is a great way to show them new vocabulary alongside images while they train their ear to listening to Spanish.
Here are some cartoons your child could watch in Spanish:
Dora the Explorer: This show is even more effective if you watch the Spanish version where Dora will speak mostly in Spanish while teaching them English vocabulary, too.
Bob el Tren
Caillou, the four-year-old boy with a big imagination.
While cartoons won’t be enough to teach a child Spanish on their own, they’re still a useful tool that will help them pick up some Spanish! It’s up to you to give them the daily language practice they’ll need on a daily basis in order to become fluent in Spanish.
They won't even know they are studying Spanish, and the cartoons could act as a form of having free lessons.
Whilst they won't be enough to have dreams in Spanish, they can definitely set your child on their way to eventual fluency!
Learn Spanish at Home with Books for Children
It’s well known that children love stories, especially before they go to bed. Learning Spanish can be made easier by using fun books with colourful pictures. If your child loves reading, why not get them books in Spanish so that they can practise reading themselves once they’re old enough?
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You can get books that are fully in Spanish or bilingual books (which we recommend when they first start reading around ages 5 or 6).
Here are a few books in Spanish that children can read before they go to bed:
Buenas noches Gorila
Sweet Dreams/Dulces Sueños
Where’s the Baby/¿Donde está el bebé?
¡Guau, guau! (A textile book with pages of animals and different materials).
Conejo y sombrero (a fun story about a rabbit which you should definitely read aloud!)
You can also buy the Spanish versions of their favourite stories and movies like Finding Nemo, for example. Reading is also a great way for them to learn words by heart as well as developing their brains in time for school!
Any beginner starting out will need a plan for learning Spanish. When it comes to kids, books, songs, and their favourite films will all feature prominently in this plan.
Teach Children Spanish with a Private Tutor
For curious and motivated children who really want to learn Spanish, getting them a private Spanish teacher to work with them on their Spanish is a great idea.
There are also specialist centres and schools for very young children where they can learn Spanish in a group while they play or take one on one private tutorials.
There are a number of benefits to going to a group class: they can make new friends, have fun, and they won’t be intimidated by having their very own tutor.
Any guide for beginners learning Spanish will often feature Spanish tutors as a good way of learning, and this is the same for kids. Their individual approach means that kids don't get left behind as can sometimes be the case in a classroom environment.
Having a Spanish-speaking Family
Having a Spanish-speaking parent is really useful. Families with a Spanish-speaking heritage often have either a mother or a father that were born in a Spanish-speaking country. If both parents speak Spanish, however, they should make sure that one parents focuses on speaking to the child in English to make sure they pick up the language before school.
Studies on language acquisition have shown that you don’t need to wait until you’ve learned your mother tongue before you can learn a second native language. Learning Spanish can therefore be done alongside learning English!
If throughout the day, the child listens to both English and Spanish, they’ll learn to interact naturally in both languages. This will also make them more comfortable in both languages which brings many benefits later on in their studies (especially if they end up working in tourism, international business, translation, or teaching, for example).
There's no exact answer to how long it takes to learn Spanish, but if a child is exposed to the language from a young age, they will learn a lot faster than if they waited until they had Spanish lessons at school.
Learning Spanish from a Young Age with the Help of their Grandparents
When a family has Hispanic roots, there are often opportunities to visit Spanish-speaking countries. This is especially true if the grandparents still live such a country.
You’ll have an even better reason to visit your parents and they’ll definitely want to see their grandchildren as often as they can. They could even spend summers making Spanish-speaking friends on the beach or by the pool, for example.
You can also complement their language learning with a few extra private tutorials while they’re on vacation, too. This is a great way to get the most out of immersing them in a Spanish-speaking culture while reinforcing their knowledge of Spanish grammar which can fall by the wayside if they’re only practising speaking every day.
There are also language schools and summer camps that children can attend in Spanish-speaking countries where they’ll practice their Spanish while playing and doing other enriching activities.
Spanish for Kids: Websites Designed for Children
For tech-savvy parents who want to teach their child Spanish, there are plenty of options available on the world wide web. The website Petralingua, for example, offers 21 different lessons on the basics of Spanish as well as dozens of songs, 80 videos, 140 exercises, a dictionary of words they should know, and much more.
The site also has Spanish learning kits for children that include booklets and CDs for children to learn Spanish at their own pace.
Dinolingo has books, DVDs, and online Spanish lessons for children as well as their famous dinosaur mascot. This Spanish resource is for younger children aged from 2 to 7 and includes 5 DVDs, 150 flashcards, as well as posters you can decorate their rooms with. It allows children to learn basic everyday Spanish vocabulary as well as understand simple Spanish words and expressions.
There are so many ways to teach children Spanish nowadays. Teaching a child Spanish at home can give them a huge advantage over other children.
For those who don’t have any Spanish speakers at home, the most important thing to do is ensure that your child remains motivated. You can encourage them and reward them with games and make sure that their language-learning experience is engaging and enjoyable.
No matter what age you are, all beginners need to know how to go about learning Spanish. When it comes to children, the amount of resources available online are a great way to start them off.
These resources, when coupled with the other learning methods that we have mentioned in this article, will provide an effective way to get children on the right track to becoming fluent in Spanish.