“Yo hablo español!” are three precious words we want our child to say, and what’s more – to mean. Given the amount of language tools and resources for Spanish that never seem to end, the road to Spanish fluency can seem long and paved with obstacles. Fear not! One of the most powerful tools you have is also one of the most fun: reading! Learning a second language through reading offers a number of benefits, including an increase in cognition, memory, and listening skills. There are two types of children’s books to enjoy while sharing a love for Spanish: bilingual books and Spanish-only books.
Bilingual books create a bridge between the two languages (in this case, English and Spanish) and help you understand the story you’re reading. Spanish-only books will help you internalize the new language since it lacks the presence of English as an aid to understanding. Both types of books are essential in your quest to teach Spanish to your little one. If you are a true beginner of Spanish yourself, then pick up some (or all) of the bilingual books listed below to lead your child in learning along with you. If you feel confident about basic Spanish skills and pronunciation, then graduate to Spanish-only children’s books to read at home. Either way, you will be providing your child with the chance to discover new stories in a new language. ¡Vamos a leer!
Bilingual Books in English and Spanish
A great way to stimulate your child’s interest in Spanish is to read bilingual books to them. Cuddle up somewhere comfortable and peruse the book together. First, read the story (or a few pages, depending on your child’s capacity for attention) in English and talk about what’s happening. Then, read it again in Spanish in a playful way. This is a fool-proof way to get your child curious about the language. You can point out people or objects in the pictures when you say a vocabulary word, compare the words with those in English, and talk about the differences in sounds. The goal here is to make it fun and exciting so that each time you pick up the book, your child will be eager to hear it in Spanish. Here is our list of popular bilingual books that you and your child are sure to love!
English-Spanish Bilingual Books
For ages 3-6 years, this book of new words is big, bright, and easy to read. Each page has a central theme around which colorful pictures are displayed with labels in Spanish and English. Learn the names of colors, food, toys, farm animals, objects in the home, and many others. This is a fun way to explore Spanish vocabulary and to encourage your child to remember new words.
A perfect learning combination of art, culture, math skills, and Spanish vocabulary, this little book is a must-have! It is designed to engage babies and toddlers alike with its pretty pictures and big numbers. Follow baby Frida as you count all of the things in her world, such as clouds, leaves, toes, and dresses.
A book about mice mixing colors can only be great fun! The three mice in the story find three jars of paint in blue, red, and yellow. The story comes alive with lovely illustrations that will teach your child how to mix colors and what to call them in Spanish. This would be especially memorable if it was read along with a painting activity!
This is an endearing board book about the love of family and all the kisses that come with it. It has cute pictures to share with your child while teaching them some basic Spanish words like besos, gato, perro, and a few more. While it’s not a book for learning a ton of vocabulary at once, it captivates your little one’s attention gives you a reason to shower them with kisses while learning Spanish.
A charming story in the form of poetry, this book is about María and the llama who follows her to school. Based on the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” the new poem carries the same rhythm in both English and Spanish. It takes place in Peru and embodies all the elements of Peruvian culture with illustrations of the village where Maria lives, the typical dress of the villagers, and more. It is sure to be a quick favorite!
By reading stories to your child entirely in Spanish, you can immerse them in the language momentarily. Take advantage of it by trying to use Spanish only during the time that you are actively engaged with the book. Early literacy skills are inspired at a young age by hearing oral language. The more often you can read these stories in Spanish to your little one, the more likely they are to imitate what you say or to associate new words with the pictures. Check out our blog on strategies for teaching your child Spanish to get a better understanding of why this is. Here is a list of some excellent Spanish-only books to be treasured and enjoyed!
A book of sounds is perfect for children ages 1 to 3. Learn what sounds the animals in the book make and practice Spanish onomatopoeia at the same time! This is a Spanish rhyming board book with cute illustrations and a farm animal charm to it. It’s easy for reading, repeating new words and sounds, and enjoying the practice of Spanish.
This book is an excellent tool to teach basic emotions in Spanish and to discuss the colors that may be associated with them. The monster has accidentally mixed up all the colors and feelings so as you read to your child, you can help put them back where they belong. It’s a fun and educative book.
A diverse little group of animals is curious to know what the moon tastes like. Working as a group, they pile on top of each other to reach as high as possible. The book shows what can happen when friends share dreams and cooperate with one another. Along with the important life lesson it offers, it’s a great book to learn animal vocabulary!
This is a unique and enjoyable book that never ends! Read through the board book, learning characteristics of a strange animal. When you think you’ve finished, you are directed to flip it over and read it from back to front! It’s definitely a fun way to teach descriptive words and phrases in Spanish.
The author of this children’s book was a primary school teacher who knew what inspired and engaged students the most. This is a large, beautifully-illustrated alphabet book that uses a different animal for each letter. As it is one long, rhythmic poem, it is a fun way to teach children new words while enjoying the pleasant rhymes.
Richness of Reading
By exploring and sharing these books that are rich in language, your child is sure to develop important skills each time you sit down to read. Overall, the best thing a parent can do is to encourage reading habits early with their little one – especially when learning a second language! If you would like to practice your Spanish with a native speaker before you begin reading books to your child, try our free online Spanish lesson. Or, consider signing up your child for Spanish classes online to boost their fluency, as it’s a guarantee they’ll be speaking Spanish after the first class. With this list of books to choose from, we are positive that you will enjoy your Spanish-learning journey with your child!Read More
School is back in session. Kids are heading back to class, and teachers are putting together materials to get their students excited about Spanish. However, it can be hard to get kids to focus and work together after a summer of freedom – especially in another language! That’s why icebreakers can be so helpful: they’re fun, engaging, and educational all in one.
These icebreakers aren’t just for Spanish teachers to use. Parents homeschooling their kids, parents looking to enrich their child’s education outside of public school, co-op leader, and tutors can all take advantage of these games. Let’s take a look!
Simon Says (Simón dice)
Who remembers Simon says from their childhood days? Yes! I’m sure most of you have played this at least a couple of times. This is a great one to use with energetic young kids who can’t sit still. Get them all up on their feet, either at their desks or in a circle, and give them commands in Spanish starting with Simón dice… This is a great one for kids starting out with Spanish because you can do the action as you say the command, making it easy for them to connect the Spanish with its corresponding action. You can introduce new vocabulary, phrases, and complex grammar in a very easy and fun manner. Here are some commands to get started:
Pónganse de pie – stand up
Salten — jump
Siéntense – sit down
Canten – sing
Bailen – dance
Griten – shout
Cállense – quiet down
Now, in the real Simon Says game, the kids only do what you say if it is prefaced with the phrase ‘Simon says.’ If you give a command without saying ‘Simon says’ and some of the kids do the action, they are ‘out’ and have to sit down. However, in an immersion preschool Spanish class, explaining that rule may be a bit complicated. If you are comfortable with using English in the classroom, go ahead and explain that rule. However, it is completely fine to play it without that rule; the students are still learning through Spanish exposure.
If you want to step it up a bit, you can give them full sentences, like Pongan la hoja debajo del escritorio. (Put the paper under the desk). You can include more vocabulary applicable to your specific class with this method.
The Question Ball (La pelota de preguntas)
Ages: Elementary – adults
You may have seen these balls in English; they are divided into different sections with a question in each one. However, as a language teacher, it’s better if you make your own with vocabulary specific to your class’s age and level. Take a plain rubber ball or even a balloon and divide it into sections. In each one, write a question or a command (¿Cuál es tu animal favorito? – What is your favorite animal? Enumera cinco de tus comidas favoritas. – List five of your favorite foods.) and let the games begin! Have your students sit in a circle and start off with an example. Toss the ball up, catch it, and read the question where your right thumb lands. Answer it in Spanish, then toss it to one of your students (or kids)! Use it as a teaching moment if they are struggling to answer correctly and enjoying getting to know each other better!
Conversation Time (Hora de conversar)
Ages: Preschool – adult
This icebreaker is a perfect way to begin a class; it gets the students engaged and teaches Spanish questions and answers implicitly – no writing required! Get everyone in a circle and grab a ball to toss between you all. If you are playing with complete beginners, you need to go slowly and repeat a lot! Take the ball and say Yo me llamo… and say your name. Toss it to a student and walk them through the sentence and have them say their name. Have them toss the ball back to you and repeat the sentence. Then, toss the ball to another student and walk them through the sentence. Once they seem comfortable with that phrase, introduce the question ¿Cómo te llamas? Start with an example, saying both the question and answer, then toss it to a student asking them ¿Cómo te llamas. They need to respond in Spanish, then toss the ball to another student, asking them the question.
This is a great fun way to introduce new questions and phrases. It’s a way to introduce conversational phrases that doesn’t use a textbook or a whiteboard (you can later review the sentences on a whiteboard) that is more natural. Just remember to be patient with them!
Hot Potato (La papa caliente)
Ages: Preschool – middle school
Everyone knows how to play hot potato! Now we are adding a twist to get those little learners engaged in learning Spanish! Get some music and a potato (or anything, really – a ball, whiteboard eraser, etc.) and create a circle with your students. Turn on the music and start passing the potato. When you stop the music, the person holding the potato has to speak in Spanish. Depending on what class you have, you can modify this to fit their level. For example, you can have them just say a short sentence about themselves, you can ask them a question in Spanish that they must answer in Spanish, or you can write a grammar/vocabulary element on the board that they must incorporate into a sentence. There are so many different ways to make this simple game a great learning activity and an icebreaker!
Two Truths and a Lie (Dos verdades y una mentira)
Ages: Elementary – adults
You’ve probably played this one with your friends before, but it’s a great language-learning tool as well! It is super easy to play. Each person prepares 3 sentences in Spanish: two that are true and one that is false. The students can either write these down and read them out loud, or this can be a strictly oral exercise. If you’re playing this with a class of students, it would be best to have them sit in a circle to make it more personal and conversational instead of a teaching setting. After each student reads their three sentences, the class discusses which one is the lie. The student then reveals which was the lie. If you are using this with your kids, you can ask them to come up with sentences about their friends or something they’ve learned (a science or history topic) since you will most likely be able to easily guess the lie.
Teach with the icebreaker. Depending on what the students are learning and their language capabilities, you can ask them to include certain vocabulary and grammar in their sentences. For example, if they are learning the present perfect tense, then they would have to write each sentence using that tense. As the students’ language capability improves, they can say which one is a lie in Spanish instead of English. For first-timers, they can discuss which is a lie all in English. With time, they can use Spanglish – “Oh, that was the mentira,” – and incorporate more and more Spanish as their vocabulary improves until they can respond completely in Spanish.
Mystery Words (Palabras misteriosas)
Ages: Upper elementary – adults
This one requires a little bit more logical thinking, so I would suggest not playing it with preschoolers or kids just going into elementary school. On the whiteboard (or a piece of paper if you are doing this at home), write about ten different words that describe you or something about you. For example, you can write azul if you have blue eyes, or veintisiete if you are 27 years old.
The students can either work individually or in teams to come up with what these words are referring to. For beginning levels, use words they are familiar with and they can guess in English. As they progress, have them find the question in Spanish that you wrote the answer to. For instance, going back to our examples, the questions would be: ¿De qué color son tus ojos? ¿Cuántos años tienes?
This is a great exercise if you a new teacher wanting your students to get to know you a bit together. You can continue to use this activity throughout the year, asking the students to lead the exercise instead of you. Feel free to use harder vocabulary and grammar if your students are more advanced!
So, now you have six new icebreakers to use this school year! You can reuse them throughout the year since they don’t have to be JUST icebreakers. Feel free to alter these games to fit the needs of your classes or come up with your own!
If you are looking for ways to better your Spanish or provide additional Spanish material to your kids or students, sign up for a FREE online Spanish class! Our classes are live with native speakers, and they are a great supplemental source for any Spanish class! Learn more here!
Being bilingual in today’s world is not only a perk but a serious advantage. One might even consider it a necessity! As parents doing our best, of course, we want to impart this linguistic talent to our children. Spanish is an especially popular language choice with more than 500 million speakers worldwide. However, what if you only speak English? What if you learned Spanish years ago in high school, and now you’ve forgotten how to pronounce everything? There are so many questions that arise when we want to teach Spanish to our children but are limited by our language capabilities. The internet is full of overwhelming amounts of information about how to teach this foreign language at home, whether we speak it or not, and the sheer volume of resources can be daunting to sift through. In this article, I will boil down the excess into manageable chunks to explain the what, the why, and the how of teaching your child Spanish at home.
How to Learn
First, let’s imagine this: you are building a house. Before the house can be constructed piece by piece, you must first lay down a solid foundation. In this analogy, our understanding of how to learn Spanish is the foundation, and the pieces of the house are the strategies explained in detail below. To understand how our children learn a foreign language, we will turn it over to linguist Stephen Krashen who developed a useful theory on how children experience language learning:
The result of language acquisition … is subconscious. We are generally not consciously aware of the rules of the languages we have acquired. Instead, we have a ‘feel’ for the correctness. Grammatical sentences ‘sound’ right, or ‘feel’ right, and errors feel wrong, even if we do not consciously know what rule was violated. (Krashen 10)
While we may think of language learning as all the grammar, vocabulary, and drills, it’s, in fact, more effective to use the language in a meaningful way. The interaction itself is what grabs our attention and holds it at a very deep level. Children subconsciously learn the rules of their native language. In order to maximize the learning potential for acquiring a second language, it would be wise to use the same method. Let’s look at these two opposing examples:
(1) The teacher stands in front of the students, pointing to a list of new Spanish vocabulary words on the board. He asks the students to write the words in their notebooks: agua, arena, lodo, polvo. The students are then instructed to look up the definition of each word in the dictionary, make flashcards, and memorize their meanings.
(2) Students gather in a circle. The teacher reveals a sensory table with four different textures, each with its own label. She asks the students to touch each substance while saying its name: agua, arena, lodo, polvo. They will immediately associate the tactile sense of each substance (water, sand, mud, dust) with its Spanish name.
In each example, the students are learning. The question is – how are they learning? Number one shows memorization and number two shows a combination of associative memory and subconscious acquisition. Although both examples lead to learning, the second method will be more effective with longer-lasting results since it is made meaningful by the experience.
Children, especially toddlers or younger, are much quicker to imitate words, phrases, or song lyrics when they acquire it instead of learning it – when they experience it instead of memorizing it. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective strategies you can use at home to improve language learning!
Strategies for Success
1. Learn along with your child
Your kids need a compelling reason to learn a second language. As soon as they understand that it will increase interaction time with you, they will be extra motivated to engage. Brush up on your skills or start from scratch – it’s going to be a rewarding ride! Enroll in an online class at Homeschool Spanish Academy (the first class is free!) or check out our blog to review your best options. You will want to make sure your pronunciation skills are in good shape as you begin your learning journey with your child.
2. Set up a daily schedule for language learning
A 10 to 30-minute daily routine that is set at the same time is necessary for the best results. Children thrive in learning environments where they understand what to expect. Depending on their ages, they will need to start with shorter time frames and then slowly increase their stamina over a period of a few weeks or more. Create a routine that suits you and your child by dividing the time up into experiences that encourage learning. For example:
5 minutes – a fun song with a meaningful dance
10 minutes – color a picture and practice pronunciation with an activity
10 minutes – play a game to reinforce new vocabulary
5 minutes – a fun song with meaningful dance again
3. Choose your themes
Focusing on specific topics, or themes, helps you and your child focus on related information and makes learning easier. By building mental bridges between similar ideas in a theme, you are more likely to create meaningful memories. Spanish themes you might like to include will revolve around a central theme. For instance, the theme could be “On the Beach” and for 2 to 4 weeks you discuss different sub-topics using vocabulary (warm weather, what you bring to the beach, what you see on a beach), phrases and verbs (vamos a la playa, me gusta nadar), and play beach-related games (toss a beach ball and say new words or phrases, sing songs about hot weather, or fill up a kiddie pool!). Organize your themes into a notebook and jot down new ideas as you move through the year of learning.
4. Use props and TPR
Props are broadly defined as “serving a means of assistance,” and in this case, they are assisting you to bring the lesson to life. You use toys and gadgets to grab your child’s attention and excite their inner desire to play. A squishy toy frog is a whole other world compared to a simple picture. If you’re trying to encourage subconscious learning then you will want to stimulate the child’s senses and – again – give them a reason to learn.
Along the same line of props is TPR, which stands for Total Physical Response. This is a method used by language teachers to help students understand new words by using physical movement. We parents do this automatically when teaching our babies to speak our native language, so this should come naturally! TPR means to use your body to show the meaning of words while teaching them and then have your child imitate the movement and the word or phrase. For example, you can rub your hands over your eyes in a sleepy motion when teaching the phrase Tengo sueño (I am tired). Have your child repeat it and use the same motion. It’s important to be consistent when choosing movements for whichever words or phrases you’re teaching.
5. Combine learning and play
Learning is much more effective when it is fun! While teaching your child Spanish, keep in mind that it shouldn’t feel like homework or a chore. You can combine learning and play easily by using songs, dances, toys, and lots of physical activity. One excellent idea is to use a Spanish-only puppet! Find a funny puppet at a thrift store and give it a Spanish name together. Tell your child that this puppet only speaks Spanish so anytime they communicate together (you are the puppet, of course!), your child has to try really hard to remember the vocabulary they’ve learned.
6. Add Spanish to established routines
Your morning and bedtime routines are goldmines for language learning! Take advantage of the daily repetition in these activities and gradually add new Spanish words and phrases to them. While brushing your teeth, you say, “¡Me cepillo los dientes!” as your child repeats. Point to your teeth and say again, dientes so your child can repeat. While changing into pajamas, repeat, “Me pongo el pijama!” and hold up the clothes and say together “pijama.” The key to this is repetition and association of name to object or phrase to action. This is a guaranteed way to teach new vocabulary.
7. Try family ‘Spanish time’ once a week
Everyone in the family can get in on the action by setting up a weekly time that the whole family practices Spanish together. A good time might be once a week during dinner or a Spanish game night. Everyone tries to communicate as best they can for 10 minutes (or as long as they can manage) using only the Spanish they’ve learned!
8. Collect new vocabulary words in a Libro de Palabras
While you are teaching new words to your children, it will be helpful to have an organized place for them to store it all (since unfortunately it won’t all be stored in their heads!). Reuse an old binder or pick up a notebook and use it as a home for vocabulary. By calling it a “libro de palabras” you will easily teach your child two words – libro and palabras. Have your child glue down colored pictures of objects and their names on it that he or she colored, cut, and practiced. Then, every week, have a time when you both can sit down together and simply look through them as a review.
9. Seek out community support
We’ve all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” but it’s also the case with teaching a new language to a child! A great way to gather ideas and resources, ask questions, voice concerns, and vent when you need it to those who understand (we’ve all been there!) is by joining a like-minded group. You can look for meetups in your area for parents teaching bilingual children, join groups online by searching Google or Facebook, or ask around at your child’s school to see if any other parents are teaching their children Spanish.
10. Try out Spanish learning videos
While videos aren’t the same as having a live teacher, they do have a place! Let’s use the “On the Beach” theme as an example here, also. If this were a theme in your house and you already learned some songs, vocabulary, and a few of the sub-topics had already been explored, then it would be helpful to use a video. The video should make use of some of the words and phrases you covered. Use this as a review. You could pick out one or two new words to focus on as a learning goal while watching the video to extend it or ignore the new vocabulary and just use it as a review. If you’re looking for some great videos with a specific topic or for video lessons, check out our YouTube Channel, Spanish Academy TV!
11. Enroll your child in online Spanish classes
The ultimate support in your quest to your child Spanish is to enlist the help of a native Spanish teacher. This is an extremely efficient way to give your child the gift of bilingualism. Sign up your child today with a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy, where they will start speaking Spanish immediately! By using an online classroom to provide the bulk of instruction and experience, you can focus on supplying the boost at home using the ideas listed above. If your child is too young for online classes, consider taking the class yourself to improve your Spanish and share the talent with your child. It’s a win-win!
You Can Do It!
Teaching a foreign language to your child is certainly a challenge, but with the right tools and a positive attitude, you can do it! Take advantage of this list of ideas while you gather your resources and make your teaching plan or schedule your free class with Homeschool Spanish Academy today. We would love to help you achieve your language goals. No matter how you choose to teach your child Spanish, remember how great of a parent you are for helping your child to master a foreign language. ¡Buen trabajo!Read More
If you have studied Spanish for a little while, you have probably noticed that there are many connections between English and Spanish. Since they both have roots in Latin, there are many similarities, making it pretty easy to identify the meaning of new words in Spanish…or so you think. While you may be able to stick an ‘o’ or an ‘a’ to the end of some English words or change an -tion to a -ción to make them Spanish equivalents (tranquil — tranquilo, education — educación), it is not always that simple!
These words that look alike and have the same meaning are called cognates. Let’s look at some more:
- Plate — Plato
- Intention — Intención
- Capital — Capital
These examples either have the exact same spelling or just slight differences. There are other examples where the words may not look exactly the same but look enough like each other for us to make the correlation between the two:
- Necessity – Necesidad
- Lamp – Lámpara
While these connections between the two languages are great and can help us understand a lot more Spanish than we expect, it can often set us up for some awkward situations. How many times have you not known a word in Spanish and tried to just put a Spanish ending on the English one and hoped for the best? This often works (like with education and educación), but not always. There are numerous false cognates, or false friends as they are often called, that create confusion and miscommunication. Possibly the most common example of this is embarrassed and embarazada. They look similar, so they must mean the same thing, right? Wrong! Embarazada is actually pregnant, and the correct translation of embarrassed would be avergonzado(a). Can you see how false cognates can cause a lot of problems? Let’s look at some more.
Phew! That’s a lot of false cognates. Don’t stress, though! I learned a lot of these through trial and error, and it’s okay if you confuse these, too. Keep practicing, and be sure to talk with one of our certified Spanish teachers if you have any questions. Sign up for a FREE class now!
Today is my 20th birthday! My party will be at the fifth house on the second avenue. As of now, you’re the first to know! Ok, ok, so today isn’t really my birthday, but without the use of ordinal numbers, I wouldn’t be able to tell you all about it. Ordinal numbers tell us about an object’s position in relation to others. They are the numerical labels that help us arrange objects or ideas in order: first, second, third, etc. They are different from cardinal numbers, or natural numbers, that represent a quantity that we can count. When we learn about ordinal numbers in Spanish, it’s important to remember the vocabulary as well as the ways that they are used.
Ordinal Numbers 1-10
The most commonly used números ordinales in Spanish are numbers 1-10. As you will soon see, the numbers after 10 grow in complexity and length, which has undoubtedly persuaded Spanish speakers to use the cardinal numbers between 11 and a million much more frequently. Let’s start with a list of the numbers 1-10 in their ordinal form with a pronunciation cheat sheet!
It is important to take note that we do not use these ordinal numbers in Spanish exactly the same way that we use them in English. For example, unlike English, we write the days of the month with the cardinal number to specify a date. The only exception is for the first day of the month, where we use the ordinal number:
Cardinal number: El diez de agosto (August 10th)
Ordinal number for the first day of any month: El primero de abril (April 1st), el primero de agosto (August 1st)
The use of the ordinal number to denote the first of the month is a general and common rule for Spanish, but it is acceptable only in Spain to use uno instead of primero (El uno de abril).
Give it a try
Here is a quick quiz to see if you can fill in the blanks with the correct ordinal number, using the chart above to help! (See the answers at the end of the blog to check your work!)
1. el ______________ (8th) carro
2. el ______________ (1st) de noviembre
3. el ______________ (10th) suéter
4. el ______________ (5th) hermano
5. el ______________ (9th) cuadro
Ordinal Versus Cardinal
While cardinal numbers act as adjectives, ordinal numbers can be adverbs, pronouns, and adjectives. The major difference between them is that cardinal numbers do not usually change according to the gender and number of the noun, as ordinal numbers do. Here are a few examples that show how ordinal numbers change in order to adapt to the noun that they describe:
You will see that the ordinal number ending in ‘o’ comes before masculine nouns, while the ordinal number ending in ‘a’ precedes feminine nouns.
Do you notice anything strange in the chart above? Take a closer look at the ordinal number in the sentence Me dieron el primer boleto. In our example, it’s no mistake that primer is written without the final ‘o’. Ordinal numbers primero and tercero both lose the final ‘o’ when they are in front of a singular noun. This is the case even if another word is in between, as in, el primer gran día (the first big day).
El primer momento libre = the first free moment
El ganador del tercer lugar = the third place winner
Give it a try
Which ordinal or cardinal numbers do you need to fill in the following blanks? (See the answers at the end of the blog to check your work!)
6. Tengo ______________ (2) animales.
7. Tengo el ______________ (2nd) animal.
8. Hoy es la ______________ (1st) vez.
9. Lo hago solo ______________ (1) vez.
10. Comienza la ______________ (4th) entrada.
We have just learned that ordinal numbers are often adjectives. As you may know, an adjective generally comes after the noun it describes in Spanish. In the case of ordinal numbers, however, they come before the noun unless discussing a member of royalty or the pope.
El sexto libro = the sixth book
Mi primera foto = my first photo
Juan Carlos Primero = Juan Carlos the First, the former king of Spain
San Juan Pablo Segundo = Pope John Paul the Second
Numbers 11 to 100
Ordinal numbers are not ordinarily used after 10, but it is still important to expose yourself to them so that you can recognize them when they do appear. Both 11th and 12th have two acceptable forms, which the chart below shows. While there is, unfortunately, no formula to memorize for all the ordinal numbers after 11, there are a few guidelines we can follow. For numbers 13-19, we use a combination of decimo + ordinal number 3-9, as in decimocuarto (14th). For numbers in between 20-100, we use the ordinal number ending in -gésimo or -agésimo + the unique singular ordinal number 1-9, as in vigésimo primero (21st).
As you view the chart, keep in mind that all of these ordinal numbers can be written together or apart, as in decimoprimero or décimo primero. Additionally, if they describe a feminine noun, their form changes to decimaprimera or décima primera.
Similar to English, Spanish ordinal numbers can be written in long form or using superscriptions. While in English we use “st” “nd” “rd” and “th” as the superscriptions (as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th), Spanish uses “o” for masculine nouns or “a” for feminine nouns, as in the following examples:
Another way of abbreviating numbers is by using roman numerals, which we read as ordinal numbers. We can use roman numerals with centuries, popes, monarchs, emperors, books, volumes, chapters, and recurring events. Keep in mind that in informal speech, the use of ordinal numbers above 10 is fairly rare. Instead of saying, el quincuagésimo capítulo, one would more likely say el capítulo cincuenta.
Now that you have learned how to use ordinal numbers, be sure to keep practicing them regularly in speech and writing. Be sure to check out our blog on cardinal numbers to refresh your memory or learn new vocabulary! To enhance your language skills, schedule a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and start speaking Spanish with a native speaker today!
Answers to Give It a Try:
Do you remember the blog about ya where we introduced you to the first of many Spanish words that have multiple meanings? Today, we’ll continue exploring the phenomenon of words that are spelled the same but don’t mean the same thing! We can categorize these words as:
- Polysemic words – words that have one single origin, but when used in different contexts have different meanings.
- Homonyms – two or more words that are spelled the same but don’t have the same linguistic roots; they, therefore, have different meanings.
The difference between these two is that a polysemic word is one single word with two or more meanings that depend on context, while homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but mean different things because they don’t have the same etymological background. This means that homonyms are words that are spelled the same by chance, not because they have evolved from the same word.
For all you grammar nerds, Etymology is the study of the origin of words and their evolution throughout history.
We’ll start with our first polysemic word; this one has caused the most trouble to all my English-speaking friends learning Spanish! In Mexico and Guatemala, we use the word ahorita. This is the diminutive form of ahora – we sure love our diminutives! Ahorita is a colloquial expression, which means that we use it in informal speech. There are two reasons why this word causes so much trouble:
- As a part of informal speech, we use it all the time in conversations. So, it’s really easy to misinterpret it as we really use it so often!
- The meanings of ahorita are very contradictory. It can either mean:
- Right now, like right now, now. Right this second.
- Just a little bit ago.
- In a little bit, or anytime between 5 minutes and a couple of hours.
- In an indeterminate amount of time.
In order to understand what the other person means with ahorita, I’ve often needed to ask something like, “Are you leaving the house ahorita as in right this second, or ahorita as in a couple of hours?” I’ve also had friends who live only a 5-minute drive from me tell me they’ll leave their house ahorita, only to come to my house 4 hours later! And once they arrived, I asked them, “Weren’t you leaving ahorita?” To which they would usually reply with something like, “Oh, yeah, I did. I was just finishing something.”
As you can see, the meaning of ahorita greatly varies depending on the context. This can cause a lot of frustration not only for people who are learning about a new language and culture but also to people who speak the language as a mother tongue. Don’t ever feel bad about these misinterpretations! Remember that a language is not always an exact science!
While most of these words are not as confusing as ahorita, it’s important to know them before you encounter them!
Spanish Polysemic Words
As we mentioned before, a polysemic word has one single etymological origin and multiple meanings that vary depending on the context in which we use the word. Let’s have a look at some of these words:
As we mentioned above, homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but do not have the same etymological background, so they have various meanings. Let’s look at some of them:
As you can see in all these examples, there are many Spanish words that we spell exactly the same way but that have more than one meaning! We understand what these words mean because of the context in which we’re saying them. If someone said puedes bajar la llama de la estufa, they could mean two different things:
- You can turn the llama down on the stove, or
- You can get the llama off the stove
What is certain is that the person is most likely referring to turning down the flame on the stove, and not telling you to get the fluffy animal off the stove!
Let’s have a look at some more examples! As you will see below, there are times when more than one sentence makes sense. This is why the context is so important! If you’re sitting at a restaurant, you’ll more likely ask for a menu than for a letter or a card. And while a baby is sure mono (cute, lovely, or adorable), he can’t wear a monkey (monkey also means mono in Spanish – the right word here would be onesies).
Me duele la muñeca
- My doll hurts
- My wrist hurts
Me puede traer la carta
- Please, bring me the card
- Please, bring me the letter
- Please, bring me the menu
Me encanta comer falda
- I love to eat foothills
- I love to eat skirts
- I love to eat brisket
Mis plantas están verdes
- My plants are green
- My factories are green
- My soles are green
Las carpas son de agua dulce
- Tents live in freshwater
- Carps live in freshwater
El mono le queda muy bien al bebé
- The monkey fits the baby well
- The cute one fits the baby well
- Onesies fit the baby well
If you have any questions regarding the use of any words, remember that you can always schedule a FREE class with us and we’ll help you solve any doubts!
Follow along with our PDF!
In English, whenever you are happy, at home, or cold, you use the verb to be (am, are, is) to refer to all three things. However, in Spanish you say estoy feliz (or in some cases soy feliz), estoy en la casa, and tengo frío! There are three different verbs for the equivalent English verb ‘to be.’ Today, we will discuss when it is most appropriate to use each verb! If you’d like to learn more about how to express your feelings in Spanish, go have a look at our feelings blog!
Ser vs. Estar
Although they express something similar (the characteristics of a person or thing), estar and ser convey distinct ideas. Pointing out this difference to an English speaker, or a speaker of any language that doesn’t differentiate between these ideas, is a little complicated. Since we use only one word to refer to both concepts, you’ll have to create an approach in your mind and learn how it works. As said above, don’t worry: the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it!
Ser expresses the attributes of a person or thing. When you use ser, you’re talking about characteristics that are a part of the essence of a person or thing: something unchangeable.
Since ser helps us express the characteristics of a person or thing, what comes after the verb is an adjective! The structure for these sentences is ser + adjective:
Another way you can remember when to use the verb ser is to completely get rid of the verb and see how the adjective matches your noun. Adding the verb ser turns this phrase into a sentence*:
*Sentences are grammatical units that include a subject (a person or thing) and a predicate (which includes a verb and whatever follows) and help us express a complete idea. On the other hand, phrases are a set of words that form part of a sentence or clause.
Think of estar as a status or condition. Estar expresses how a person or thing exists, finds itself in a place or situation, how it feels, or how it remains with stability in a place, situation or condition.
As you can see, estar refers to something that can change and that doesn’t belong to the nature of the person or thing.
Estar can help you say how you’re feeling, express a place that you’re at, or something that you’re currently doing. When forming sentences with estar, you want to use the following structures:
*Gerund: in Spanish, the gerund (verb with -ando and -iendo endings) helps us describe a continuous action that started taking place before we mentioned it and that is still taking place as we talk about it. The equivalent of this in English is the Present Continuous Tense that we form with the verb to be + another verb with the -ing ending.
Ser vs Estar Examples
Conjugation of Ser and Estar
Now that you know when you should use each verb, let’s have a look at the conjugation since they are both irregular verbs (estar only varies on the first person singular – the rest of its conjugation is regular):
Tener means to have, to own, or to possess. This verb may be a little easier to understand because it is a verb that exists in English. We can use tener to express something that we physically possess or a way we feel at a certain point in time – a feeling or need we “have.”
As we learned in our blog about expressing the way we feel, we can use tener (to have) to express needs or emotions at a specific point in time.
The construction for this is tener + a noun. Let’s have a look at some examples and what a literal translation would look like:
Tener is, like estar and ser, an irregular verb. You need to keep that in mind when building sentences with it:
Like we reviewed in our common mistakes blog, there are some things you need to keep in mind to make your Spanish even better. When it comes to expressing the way we feel, make sure you remember this list:
- Tengo calor: while in English you say ‘I’m hot’, in Spanish you say ‘I have heat’ (I experience heat). Saying ‘estoy caliente’ or ‘soy caliente’ means that you are aroused by something, so you really want to avoid making this common mistake and having people look at you funny.
- Tengo frío: in Spanish we say that we ‘have cold’ (we experience cold). To properly that that you’re cold, you need to say tengo frío. To say estoy frío or soy frío me means that you’re a cold person – a person who doesn’t show their feelings.
- Estoy mal vs. soy malo
- Estoy mal: since we’re using the verb estar, we’re referring to a condition that is not a part of the character of a person. In this case, estoy mal means that you feel physically sick or that you’re upset about something.
- Soy malo: ser expresses qualities about a person or thing that are part of them and therefore unchangeable. If we say soy malo, we’re saying that we’re a bad person, not that we’re feeling unwell. Another thing to keep in mind here is that if you want to say that you’re ‘bad at something’ like I am at playing soccer, you say soy malo para el fútbol. We use ser in this case because not being able to play soccer well is a part of me that’s not going to change because I’m not interested in soccer.
- Estoy bien vs. soy bueno: estoy bien and soy bueno work the same way as estoy mal and soy malo.
- Estoy bien: we’re using estar so we refer to a condition that we’re currently at. When you say estoy bien, it can either been that you’re physically or psychologically fine.
- Soy bueno: since we’re using ser, we’re talking about a part of our character. We’re saying that we’re a good person. Like with soy malo, if we want to say that we’re good at something – at something being the keyword here – we say soy bueno para jugar ajedrez (I’m good at playing chess). This means that being good at playing chess is a part of our skills.
I know this is a lot to take in, and the best way to learn all this is by practicing and practicing! Why don’t you jump into a FREE class with us so that you can practice even more with one of our teachers!
Continue practicing with our handy-dandy PDF!
Unless you’re homeschooling your child, you don’t have much say in what curricula teachers use in your kid’s classes. Are the curricula designed to help your student succeed? Are they teaching what your student actually needs to learn? Now, if you homeschool, you do get to choose what program and books you use to instruct your child. However, how do you know which curriculum is the best?
There are so many questions that come up about curricula, especially when you are looking to have your child learn a foreign language. Most parents don’t speak the language their child wants to learn, and even if they do, they might not know how to best teach it. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the curricula options, we are here to help take one subject off your plate – Spanish.
If you’re still on the fence about what language to teach your child, check out our blog that explores why Spanish is the best foreign language to learn in our increasingly connected world.
How is our Spanish Curriculum different?
You want the best for your child. However, what makes a Spanish curriculum the best course for your child?
First, we need to talk about how you learn a language. It is not just memorizing words and phrases; learning a language is learning a new way to think, express yourself, and look at the world. To gain that knowledge, you need exposure and repetition. If you have kids, think about how they learned to talk – did you teach them a list of words and have them memorize it? Did you expect them to be fluent in a year? Were they able to speak immediately?
The best way to learn a language is as close as possible to the way we naturally learned our native tongue. This means lots of exposure and relating vocabulary to images or objects – NOT relating them to the English words.
Think of it this way – if you always relate a new Spanish word to its English equivalent, when you go to have a conversation, you will constantly be thinking of your answer in English, then taking time to translate it to Spanish. It’s hard and time-consuming! You would be better off creating new relationships between the Spanish words and the objects or ideas. One easy way to do this is by labeling things in your house with the Spanish word (check out more ideas here).
So, that’s great in theory, but how can it be applied to Spanish classes? Well, here at the Spanish Academy, we have developed our own curricula that our native-speaking teachers use in each class. The curriculum utilizes images to relate each new vocabulary word and phrase to a real-life situation. Many of our teachers also use physical objects in class and encourage their students to as well. This combination of images in the curriculum and physical objects in the virtual classroom help the students avoid translation and directly create relationships between the Spanish word and the object.
Levels of Fluency
When your child first started learning their native tongue, did they immediately start talking? No, of course not! There are multiple areas of language learning and fluency. A child first learns to understand a language before learning to respond. As we said before, we want to teach Spanish in a similar way to how we naturally learn a language. Therefore, the first step towards fluency is exposure and auditory comprehension.
All our teachers are native Spanish speakers, and they make conversation a priority in each class. While your student may not be able to reproduce the teacher’s questions and comments or respond to them right away, they are developing auditory comprehension, just as they did as a baby learning their first language. If your student is able to read and write, our curricula also combine this auditory comprehension with written practice, so your student grows in all areas of language learning – reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
How many times did you have to teach your child the colors before they could remember them all? Did they remember everything the first time? Of course not! When learning a new language, we are actually building new pathways in our brain, which takes time and dedication – or repetition. A lot of other curricula, especially the ones used in school settings, move too fast and don’t take the time to reinforce learn vocabulary.
The Spanish Academy curricula apply learned vocabulary in the following classes to make sure your student remembers what they learned and can actually use it. Furthermore, the teacher always starts the class with some quick conversation and pointed questions to review and reinforce previous lessons. Instead of learning one topic and moving on, our curricula builds upon itself, deepening those pathways in your brain until speaking Spanish becomes second nature.
One size does NOT fit all
While finding pieces of clothing that are ‘one size fits all’ is great because there’s no hassle of finding the perfect size for you, that thought process cannot be used when learning a language. As a child grows up, they learn differently, and their Spanish curriculum must reflect that. That is why we have all the following programs:
- Preschool Curriculum
- Elementary Curriculum
- Middle School Curriculum
- High School Curriculum
- Adult Curriculum
Each program is specifically designed with the student’s age in mind. For example, the middle school years are a time of preparation and transition, and our curriculum takes that into mind – while addressing Spanish grammar topics head-on like the high school curriculum, it still goes at a slower pace to make sure they are truly learning. It’s like an introduction to a high school level course, which is what those middle school years are all about.
Creating the Perfect Curriculum for Your Child
While we offer different courses for each age level, every child is unique and may need something tailored specifically to their learning needs. You don’t usually get the opportunity to adjust courses in many classroom settings, but our curriculum can be altered as needed. If your student needs to just review certain parts of a curriculum because they have already mastered some topics, our teachers can start them right at the appropriate lesson, so they aren’t bored with the classes. On the other hand, if your student needs more time to review a tricky topic, our teachers take the time to get extra review materials and make sure they master each lesson.
All of our Spanish curricula have homework, quizzes, and tests built into the programs, but you can opt out of those and do a freestyle course of study. Keep in mind that if you are looking for high school credit, your student will need to comply with all parts of the curriculum. For any other course, however, the assessments can be optional.
Some students would like to focus more on conversational Spanish, while others already speak fluently but need help with their written Spanish. Either way, our teachers can accommodate and adjust the curriculum for your student’s needs.
Additionally, we have worked with numerous students that have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Just let your teacher know and they will accommodate accordingly. We are here to make learning Spanish easy for your child!
High School Courses
So many world language courses don’t offer options for high schoolers – they focus more on younger kids and avoid high school classes because of the strict standards required for high school Spanish. However, the Spanish Academy offers Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV for the high schoolers. The classes include graded homework (10%), quizzes (40%), and tests (50%), and we can provide a transcript for each completed semester.
These classes are perfect for if your student needs high school credit for Spanish, if they struggled in school and need reinforcement, or if they are looking to get a head start on their high school credits. We have received numerous testimonials about how our unique high school curriculum has helped students succeed in high school and be well-prepared for college classes. Download a sample here!
Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”– Kim Collins
Here at the Spanish Academy, we want to be constantly improving our classes. For that reason, we are making some exciting changes to our curriculum. The flexibility and teaching methods will be the same, but we will be bringing you a lot more content, with some extra special products for all you parents!
One important change will be our alignment with the ACTFL standards and level system. You will be able to see what fluency level your student is at and what they need to work on at each level. This will give you a better idea of how soon they will reach their Spanish fluency goal and how you can help get them there.
Stay tuned for the coming changes and sign up for a FREE class in the meantime!Read More
How old are you? How many siblings do you have? How long have you been learning Spanish? These are just a few of the questions that you can answer with numbers! Los números help us quantify and categorize things or experiences in our lives. They are so important that they are essential for almost every area of human society, including economics, science, and many social interactions. Number awareness in Spanish will let you set a coffee date with a friend, barter down the price of goods at an outdoor market, and understand how many spots are left on the bus for travel. Let’s take a look at how to comprehend, construct, and pronounce numbers in Spanish! Then we’ll get into the games and learning activities we can use to memorize what we’ve learned. ¡Aprendamos a contar!
Types of Numbers in Spanish
Cardinal vs. Ordinal
Cardinal numbers are the simple, original form of a number: 1, 2, 3, etc. This is in contrast to ordinal numbers, which are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. As we begin our journey of number awareness, it’s important to start with cardinal numbers so that they can serve as the base for learning ordinal numbers later. Keep in mind that Spanish speakers use cardinal instead of ordinal numbers when talking about la fecha, or the calendar date. They add “de + month” after the cardinal number. An example is: veinte de julio (July 20).
Here we have a chart with numbers 0-20 in Spanish:
Spelling numbers in Spanish is easy once you understand certain patterns. If you remember, numbers 16-19 have a distinct pattern where they all begin with “dieci”. These numbers were originally written diez y seis, diez y siete, etc. and have since changed their spelling. In a similar fashion, the spelling for numbers 21 through 29 has changed. It is not uncommon to see these numbers written as veinte y uno, veinte y dos, etc. However, according to the Real Academia Española, this is no longer an acceptable form of spelling. The form we must learn combines the two numbers and changes the ‘y’ to an ‘i’. In order to move the emphasis to the last syllable, there is an acute accent mark on veintidós, veintitrés, and veintiséis.
How to Build Bigger Numbers
Numbers begin to build on each other after 15. You will see that deiciséis through diecinueve are a combination of diez + y + number. This was, in fact, how they were all originally spelled. This construction is currently used for numbers from treinta y uno (31) to noventa y nueve (99). By combining the number in the tens place (30, 40, 50, etc.) with the number in the ones place (1, 2, 3, etc.) and placing y in between, we form the following numbers:
Now, when we reach 100, we say cien, but any number between 101-199 uses ciento. Except for 500 (which is quinientos), numbers 200 and higher use cientos in plural form. These bigger numbers are a combination of the whole hundred + cientos + number. For example, doscientos diez (210), trescientos once (311), etc. This is different from mil, which is 1,000, where it does not add an -s for dos mil (2,000) and higher. Whew, what a mouthful! This can be tricky at first, but with plenty of practice, it will seem natural. Additionally, take notice of the spelling differences in the number (700) setecientos and (900) novecientos. Here is a chart of some of the bigger numbers:
Gender in Numbers
When we list Spanish numbers in their original form, they are generally gender-neutral. However, the whole hundreds in the numbers 200 through 900 change to feminine when they quantify a feminine noun, by changing -cientos into -cientas. In addition, numbers that end in -uno undergo a spelling change in certain conditions. If the number proceeds a masculine noun, such as 21 cats, the number 21 is written as veintiún gatos. However, if the number proceeds a feminine noun that begins with the letter a, such as 31 eagles, the number is most commonly written in masculine form: treinta y un águilas. Learn more about that here. When a number like 41 precedes a feminine noun that doesn’t start with an a, then the ending is -una: cuarenta y una manzanas.
To make the most of learning about numbers, we have to be able to pronounce them correctly! Check out our video to get you started on perfecting your pronunciation! Test yourself on some of the more difficult numbers that are similar in pronunciation and sometimes confused with one another!
Games and Activities
The best way to retain any new information is to play games, of course! Engage your senses and skillsets with some of these fun ideas:
- Bingo is a popular game and is especially helpful when trying to tune those listening skills. If providing for a bigger group of learners, you can print out blank Bingo cards, pass them out for students to fill in numbers in their numerical form, and you can call out numbers 1-100 at random. If you would like a pre-made set of 4 Bingo Cards and a Spanish Numbers Calling Sheet, feel free to use our free gift to you! (Find the link at the end of this blog!) It’s fun for the whole family and keeps learners excited.
- Catch and Count is a ball game that requires at least 2 players. Everyone stands in a circle and chooses the numbers they will be counting (from 1-50 or 1-100, for example). The person holding the ball says the first number then tosses it to someone else who must say the next number in the sequence. The group tosses the ball around until they reach the maximum number. If someone messes up, they have to start all over again!
- Uno is an obvious game to play to practice numbers, especially because of its name! While playing this family favorite, make sure to require that all players say the numbers in Spanish before they play them. Each player can say their number by using the phrase, “Yo tengo el número _____.”
Spanish Number Sense
Now that you’ve learned your numbers in Spanish, you can practice using them with friends, family, or in the classroom. Expand your knowledge by taking online classes with Homeschool Spanish Academy where you will learn how to have conversations using numbers! Your journey into Spanish learning is well on its way now. Keep up the good work and stay inspired with our other blogs!
Keep practicing with our Bingo game!Read More
Get ready and put on your wetsuit because today we’re going to dive into the deep ocean of Spanish idioms and explore the colorfulness of the language. Just like with English, we use idioms all the time in Spanish, which makes them so important to learn!
But first, what is an idiom? According to Meriam Webster, an idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (such as no, it wasn’t me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as ride herd on for “supervise”).”
Just so that you know exactly what we’re looking at today, here’s a list:
- Idioms in Spanish
- The literal translation into English so you can see how important it is to keep in mind that language is a lot more than just a translation of words. It is a common mistake to translate idioms word for word, so try to avoid that!
- The actual meaning in English
- An example of each one so you can learn when to use them!
Some idioms have an equivalent in English, while others don’t.
We’ll start with my all-time favorite idiom because I’m an avid cat lover, who is unfortunately allergic to cats. Oh, the ironies of life! Maybe it’s something good; otherwise, my house would be filled with cute, furry little creatures!
Isn’t this awesome? You’ve just learned 20 new idioms in Spanish that will help you communicate even better! Now book a FREE class with us so you can practice them and learn even more!