3 Easy Tips for Introducing Your Toddler to Spanish
It’s never too early to introduce a new language to your child. In fact, the earlier you start, the better!
I know, I know—you’re already doing so much, how can you take the time to introduce a new language?
(Not to mention the fact that your little one is still learning their native language.)
But what if helping your toddler learn a second language was actually easy?
I’m here to share three ways to introduce a second language to your toddler and I promise that it won’t add too much extra work to your day.
I’m an NYC mom so for the sake of things I’m going with English as the first language and Spanish as the second one, because they are the most popular in my area—but these tips will work for introducing any language!
Table of Contents:
- Listen to Music and Watch TV in Spanish
- Introduce a Spanish ‘Word of the Week’
- Read Engaging Children’s Books in Spanish
- Do What Works Best for Your Family
1. Listen to Music and Watch TV in Spanish
We all know that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it.
While we all can’t pick up and move to a Spanish-speaking country, we can invite Spanish speakers into our homes.
Next time your toddler wants to watch their favorite show or listen to “that song” on repeat (you know which one)—say yes, and then turn it on in Spanish!
You’ll be shocked by how quickly your toddler figures out what’s happening and starts following along.
Are they more into games?
Another easy strategy is to play Spanish children’s music in the background while your toddler is engaged in other activities. The more familiar your children become with hearing Spanish around them, the more comfortable they’ll be in speaking it.
Want to get the entire family involved?
Next movie night, choose the Spanish language version of the movie!
Find your next movie: 15 Incredible Mexican Movies for Kids Who Love Family Movie Night
2. Introduce a Spanish ‘Word of the Week’
This is a trick that I learned from my cousin: introduce a new word to your toddler each week and make a big deal of using it together.
The key to success? During the week, each time the word comes up, you only say it in Spanish.
Encourage your toddler to use the word with you as well as on their own. If they say the English word, remind them of the Spanish one (in a fun way that doesn’t feel like they’re being corrected).
After the week is over and you introduce a new word to your toddler, don’t just abandon the old word—start using it in conversations!
A little Spanglish can go a long way here.
Simply use the words your child learns over time in your daily conversations—switching seamlessly from the Spanish word to the rest of your sentence in English.
This method works best when you plan ahead.
As you know, children like routines and consistently. To stay ahead of the curve, you want to plan a list of words you’ll cover for at least a month or two so that you don’t forget to do it for a few weeks.
Ready to start? Take the time to make a list (or use mine down below). You don’t have to do it alone! Get the entire family involved by having them brainstorm words with you. I promise it won’t take as long as you think.
If you have a family whiteboard or calendar then you can add the word of the week to it. If you want to really make “Word of the Week” a big deal in your home, and you have access to a printer, you can print the word in English and Spanish with a graphic and put it up on your refrigerator, family board, or even your front door.
Don’t forget to place it at your toddler’s eye level so that they can easily see it. They might not be able to read it but seeing it will add to their learning. Without even realizing it they will be connecting the letters to the picture in not one, but two languages!
Here are eight words to get you started on your brainstorm:
- Basura — garbage
- Agua — water
- Jugo — juice
- Fresa — strawberry
- Manzana — apple
- ventana — window
- Libro — book
- Música — music.
That will basically get you through two months. Only ten more months to go, and your first year is planned!
And don’t worry—if you don’t know the word for something, you can always use Google Translate or another translation app.
Learn more: Our Favorite Translation Apps
3. Read Engaging Children’s Books in Spanish
We all know that literacy begins with us reading to our children regardless of the language we read in.
We also know that our little ones will demand that we read their favorite stories over and over again until they basically have the stories memorized.
This is a perfect opportunity to introduce Spanish into your reading routine!
Get Spanish copies of the books that they love and take turns reading them in English and Spanish. If you’re uncomfortable reading in Spanish then get the audiobook and let it read to them.
I still suggest having the Spanish version in a traditional format so that they can follow along with the voice reading. It allows them to begin putting the sounds of the words with their written counterparts.
You can also find bilingual books to add to your home library.
Check these out: 10 Bilingual Spanish-English Books for Young Children
Bilingual books come with both English and Spanish text. Usually, one language will be featured over the other or on opposite pages. These books allow children to see the languages together to further connect the English and Spanish words.
If you have older children at home you can even challenge them to translate some of your toddler’s favorite stories.
Also, check with your local library.
Local libraries sometimes offer bilingual storytimes. The library will often pair the stories with a craft and often conduct the session with Spanish as the primary language.
Do What Works Best for Your Family
See, I told you the tips would be simple!
Remember to always do what works best for your family. You can implement each option simultaneously or one at a time. These tips are geared towards toddlers but honestly, they can work with all ages with mild modifications.
None of this will make your child fluent but these options will make your child more comfortable using a new language. Being comfortable is a huge gift and will help build their confidence as they continue along the journey toward becoming bilingual una palabra at a time.
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. I have appreciated the one on one interaction and teaching that my son gets from his teachers. He has gotten to know his teachers, which has increased his confidence in speaking Spanish. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Maple, Parent of 3
“I love that my children have the opportunity to speak with a live person. They get to practice Spanish in a 1-1 setting while improve their speaking, writing and reading skills during their lessons. HSA is a great way to learn Spanish for all ages! My children are 6, 9 and 11. My oldest two (9 and 11) have been taking classes with HSA for almost 2 years now. They love seeing their teacher each week. They understand the importance of learning several languages. I’ve seen them grow and learn with HSA. I’m excited to see how they will improve the more classes they take. I highly recommend them. You can’t bet learning and speaking with a live teacher. I’ve tried other programs. It’s just not as motivating.”
– Karie Ann, Parent of 3
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- 3 Easy Tips for Introducing Your Toddler to Spanish - March 8, 2022