Languages have always been my passion. I was born and raised in Colombia but came to the US in 2007 at the age of 19 with the desire to experience American culture with my own eyes. I found love and a family on the way. I now spend my days at home with my children, our animals, our garden, and our books. I have been married to my husband for almost 12 years and together, we decided home-education was the path we wanted to take for our three children.
The intent behind that decision was to create a safe space for our kids to be who they want to be, seek their passions, and preserve their childhood; but also, and of the same level of importance, was to have the time to work on their second language. We felt the desire to preserve their roots, my husband’s as well as mine. Most of my family only speak Spanish, so it was essential for us to have our children learn the language. At the same time, raising bilingual children not only has cognitive and academic benefits, but it also supports a greater sense of openness, empathy, and appreciation for other cultures; it opens doors for our children’s futures and they acquire a broader world-view. All in all just what we want our children to grow up having.
In addition to home education, I knew I needed some accountability. It all sounds beautiful on paper but from there to the actual execution we can find a big gap. Taking on a second language can be a beautiful thing for the family but just like any other thing it requires a level of commitment and you must put effort to be able to reach your goal. That is when I decided to open the doors to our house to other homeschooling children to come and learn with us. Opening the doors to our house has made the learning of the language a more interactive experience for our children and those that are wanting to learn alongside us. My kids have made some good friends and have gotten real life practice in the process. Something that once sounded like an unreachable idea, is now something that we all look forward to every week at our house.
There is a quote by Gandhi that I love and think about often: “The future depends on what you do today” and today means every day. Learning a second language is something that you need to work on daily. But that is the beauty of homeschooling, you have the freedom to adjust things to make it work. And as advised by Charlotte Mason, the sooner you can start, the better -as long as our children show interest and are encouraged by what we are presenting to them.
Whether that means adding some things to your daily rhythm, creating a library for reading aloud, or practicing saying a few sentences during lunchtime in the target language. Being at home with your children will facilitate the time that you need to be successful. You can certainly form a great language foundation in your children and even yourself.
It is important to keep it simple and find practical ways to bring your kids in contact with the language.
With this in mind, here are some of the things that we do at our home:
- Label as many parts of the house as possible. Making an effort to repeat and ask the children what each of those words mean often. Translating our children’s chore charts or schedules and placing them in a visible place.
- Have a hanging whiteboard in the bathroom and start writing one word per day/one sentence, etc. (This is a method called “Captive Reading” in case you want to look into it)
- Create a list of 5 to 10 daily commands, translate them, and practice until you feel comfortable saying them to your children. Then use them every day. (Adding a second language should be a family affair and the more your children see you excited about it the more they will feel the same).
- Read at least one book per day in the target language.
- Create a playlist and dance to it. Have fun with it! The more they see Spanish as a fun thing, the more they will want to practice it often.
- If your kids have a favorite movie, let them see it often but set it up in the target language.
- Go out to eat! Visit restaurants that speak the target language and practice ordering together.
- Lastly, finding a community of families that share the same goals is always a great idea!
The only two things that you need to start teaching your children a second language are the desire to do it, and the discipline to keep at it. Small steady efforts each day will add up to consistent progress over the years.
Even if you don’t have previous knowledge, I assure you there is no one more equipped than you to teach your own children anything you want. And that includes a new language. On this website, you will find labels for the house, schedules, free printables, and even the daily command cards that I mentioned above, along with a video, so you can hear the pronunciation of those from a native speaker.
I hope those help you get started!
Thanks for reading, mamas.
Interested in my daily commands and words of affection cards? Get them here
To get my Free parts of the house labels and other fun resources, click here
Want to start adding a couple bilingual unit studies to your homeschooling days? Check our shop here