Being bilingual provides a great advantage in life, expands our cultural horizons and helps us gain cognitive and academic advantages. When you learn a second language, you are also encouraging love of learning, empathy, and dedication.
If you are a homeschooling parent who understands how especial it is to become proficient in a second language and you have a set mind that this is what you want for your children, then it is important for you to support their journey at home.
But “How do I do this?” you wonder.
There are 3 essential things that you must do to be able to help your child or children achieve a comfortable level of Spanish learning on a regular basis at home.
Being from Colombia and having Spanish as my native language, has caused me to worry over my children’s language learning because I truly want them to learn the language and regret not doing it from the very beginning. I’m sure you have heard and read that the sooner you start the learning a second language, the better.
However, please know that it is never too late to start.
We decided to home educate our children about 3 years ago and one of the main purposes was to be able to focus more on Spanish learning. When we started doing research on material and different approaches we wanted to include in our homeschool, I came across an excellent amount blog posts on this topic and these are the three common recommendations, I took out of my research, which I happen to agree with 100%.
How to help your children achieve a comfortable level of a language:
- Have a clear understanding of how languages are learned. Now, please keep in mind the age of your children so you take the right approach to teach the language. If your children are under 12 years old, an Immersion approach is ideal. If you have older students (middle school-aged or above) you can still have an immersion approach, but they should also obtain direct grammar instruction. Having students in groups has great benefits. For younger learners they will just learn through experiences and all the knowledge will come “naturally”. Older students will learn efficiently because they will be able to make connections and draw parallels between their native language and the one they are trying to learn.
- Choose an appropriate curriculum or program and plan to use it consistently. Once you have assessed the type of approach that works best for your child (children), then you can take some time to do some research and find the right Spanish program. Whether it is a Spanish Immersion Class, at home unit studies, and online program and so on. Make sure you map out an easy-to-follow schedule where there is at least 20 minutes of Spanish learning per day. Consistency is key to learn a second language. Thankfully though, we live in an era where we can have access to millions of resources at our fingertips.
- Surround yourself with resources and support. No mama should try Spanish homeschooling alone!! Connecting is important. Try to make Spanish speaking friends or neighbors who can share with you about the language, their culture and can give you a word of encouragement during hard times. With a little bit of research and planning you can also join a CO-OP or find a group of people that shares the same Spanish goals as your family. Places like this one is great ways to find Spanish friends. Check your local Facebook pages or through your church. Make sure you supplement as much as possible with books, movies, music and most importantly: try to incorporate Spanish on your regular activities. Check with your local library to see if they host any activity or story time in Spanish, set up playdates and try to stay in the loop of any Spanish resources available in your area. YouTube has a wide range of excellent stories, Storytime, and videos in Spanish. Just make sure your scan those first for safety before you show them to your kids.
I cannot stress how important it is to be consistent and to bring the desired language to the usual rhythm of your house. If your child sees this is something “we do” then it’s going to become a natural thing for them. It is also important that you teach by modeling to your children how to do it. If they see you excited about it, then they will become excited too.
A couple practical things you can do are:
- Label the parts of your house in Spanish
- Write down a list of common phrases you use in your daily life and perhaps consider translating them and saying them in Spanish. Remember that Spanish friend? – Try to run those phrases though her so you can hear the proper pronunciation.
- Whether you are a family that runs on schedules or rhythms, consider writing those in Spanish and teaching them to the kids. For example, every day when it’s time to transition to a new activity, consider saying it in Spanish. For instance, say “Recoge los juguetes” If they give you the kind of response like “Whaaat?”, try to say “yes, remember? pick up the toys- Recoge los juguetes” and then say it slowly and ask them to say it with you. Simple intentionality goes a long way when learning a second language!
- Their favorite movies, shows, audiobooks? Most of them have a Spanish setting. Try playing those in Spanish for your kids. Most of the time, they won’t even complain because- hello…screens!!. this is a way to efficiently use their screen time!
I hope this ideas are helpful for you. You don’t need a whole lot to start. I’d say the only thing you need is the desire to teach them, a dictionary or a translating app, and a video site.
Did you enjoy this article?, did I leave some ideas out? share them with me in the comments.