Conversational Spanish for Kids of All Ages: Your Starter Kit
Teaching your child Spanish is an incredible gift that can last a lifetime.
If you find yourself inspired to educate your child in a foreign language that you don’t actually speak yourself—don’t fret! It’s absolutely possible for you to provide your child with bilingual opportunities, no matter how many languages you may (or may not) speak.
Want to know the best part? You don’t have to start with memorizing words and verb conjugations—you can start with conversational Spanish, which is much more fun!
Equipping your child with conversational tools in Spanish will open doors for them worldwide. Not only will they be able to connect with new Spanish-speaking friends in their neighborhood, but they will be able to travel to dozens of countries around the world and speak the language.
While grammar is useful, it won’t get your child through real-life situations in Spanish-speaking places and jobs. Start preparing them now with this incredible conversational Spanish starter kit!
Powers of Conversational Spanish
Think back on your language classes in school. Do you remember anything more than a few phrases? Probably not.
Regular Spanish classes tend to focus on reading, writing, and rote memorization, which are not useful in real-life situations.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, and 18% of the United States population is of Latino descent. This number is continually growing, so if you haven’t met a Spanish-speaker near you yet, you probably will soon.
Since the U.S. is so close geographically to Latin America, Spanish is the most practical second language you can teach your child. Whether they decide to take a vacation, go on a mission trip, or spend a year abroad, the close proximity of Latin America makes it a prime destination.
Whether your child ends up traveling to a Spanish-speaking country or staying at home, it’s likely that they will come into contact with the Spanish language, whether it be with their friends or at a job later in life.
Now, if all the language ability they have boils down to a couple of phrases and vocabulary lists, they won’t be able to connect well with the other person at all.
By studying conversational Spanish, your child will be equipped to cross cultural boundaries and truly connect with people from other cultures. Plus, if they learn Spanish from a young age, they will have better school and job opportunities.
Overcoming Potential Barriers
Conversational Spanish does not focus on the intricacies of the Spanish language. You do not have to explain complex verb conjugations or sentence structures. The idea behind teaching conversational Spanish is imparting useful phrases and words to your child that they will be able to use in real life.
What If I Don’t Speak Spanish?
Of course, one of the main barriers many parents face is that they don’t speak Spanish. As I said before, don’t let this stop you. You can definitely start them off with the basics, even if you don’t speak the language.
You can actually learn the language with your child. As you choose the phrases to teach them first, practice them with your kids and try basic conversations together. Once they master the basics, you may want to consider hiring a Spanish language tutor or nanny—and even getting involved in your local Latino community.
What If I’m Pressed for Time?
Another stumbling block for many parents is time. I completely understand. Between school, the activities your son or daughter is involved with, and your job, it seems like there is no time to rest.
Even if you can’t dedicate a full hour to Spanish learning, aim for five minutes a day. That’s all it takes. Lookup a few basic phrases, like buenos días, ¿qué quieres comer? (Good morning. What do you want to eat?) and use them every single day. While you may get some strange looks the first couple of times you speak in Spanish, they will get used to it.
From there, you can add in some related words to encourage them to respond to you, like quiero pan (I want bread). All of this can be done while eating breakfast as a family, or whenever you all have a couple of minutes together.
If you are tight on time, make sure to incorporate Spanish phrases that apply to your situation and surroundings. For example, if you have some time with your child in the car while you drive them to school, look up some phrases related to travel, like ¿adónde vamos? (Where are we going?).
The key to teaching your child conversational Spanish is dedication and consistent practice.
Conversational Spanish Starter Kit: Preschool
With little learners who don’t yet know how to read and write, your goal as a parent is to expose them to the language. You probably won’t immediately hear them read words and phrases, but they will listen and start to develop comprehension skills.
Here are some great ways to expose them to Spanish and get them excited about the language.
Kids love to turn on some music and dance along. Your preschooler probably already has some favorite songs of their own, so start introducing them to Spanish-language songs. Even if you don’t completely understand all the lyrics, you probably find yourself singing along in no time.
This is a fantastic way to teach basic vocabulary, and the words being set to music makes them easier for children to remember.
Hand-picked for you: 15 Amazingly Popular Spanish Songs for Kindergarten
Even though your child can’t yet read by themselves, you can read to them. Numerous bilingual books are available for preschoolers and elementary students. Since each one has the English and Spanish words, you can compare the languages and look for keywords.
If hearing the Spanish frustrates your child, try reading in English first to help them understand the story. Then, switch to Spanish and help them connect the dots.
As you begin teaching English letters and phonics, include Spanish words and sounds. Spanish pronunciation is straightforward and might be easier for your child to learn first.
For ideas on how to start with Spanish phonics, check out these strategies.
Conversational Spanish Starter Kit: Elementary
The key to teaching conversational Spanish to elementary kids is using activities they enjoy and making it fun.
What is your child’s favorite show? If you have Netflix or another streaming service, the program may be available in Spanish. Check the language options and switch them over to Spanish if possible.
While you might get a couple of protests at first, hearing a show—especially one they are familiar with—will teach them key phrases in Spanish
Now, when I say flashcards, I don’t mean the boring ones you might have used to memorize terminology in college. For elementary students, get (or make!) flashcards with fun images on them to help make learning Spanish fun! You can even make two sets and set up a game of memory.
There is a never-ending list of Spanish crafts you can make with your elementary student. To give you a good idea of where to start, pick a vocabulary or conversation topic, like “my favorite foods,” and go from there. Any regular English craft you would do with your child, you can change slightly and just use Spanish vocabulary. Check out these fun Spanish craft ideas.
Conversational Spanish Starter Kit: Middle School
The best way to teach middle schoolers conversational Spanish is to adapt the language to their interests. Whether it’s sports, art, or music, try and coordinate it with Spanish!
Everyone loves games! Even if you don’t have a game specifically in Spanish, you can easily make one like Spanish Jenga. Write some simple phrases on the pieces, and have your child say them as they remove each one.
Hand-picked for you: 40+ Online Spanish Games for Kids That Are Educational and Fun
With so much technology available, why not use some of it to teach your child Spanish? Encourage them to work on an app like Drops, Duolingo, or Memrise for five minutes a day and then ask them what they learned!
Another great tool for busy middle schoolers is Spanish podcasts. They can listen on the way to and from school or other extracurricular activities. While this may improve listening comprehension more than speaking abilities, you can use this to boost their conversational skills by asking them what they learned and having them practice with you.
Conversational Spanish Starter Kit: High School
Getting your highschooler excited about Spanish can be difficult. However, knowing Spanish will help with college applications, so try to find things that interest them and apply Spanish to it!
Who doesn’t love movies? If your child has a favorite film, encourage them to watch it in Spanish. Now, you don’t have to jump right into watching it completely in Spanish. Here are some steps to using film to learn Spanish:
- Watch the movie in English with Spanish subtitles
- Watch it in Spanish with English subtitles
- Watch it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles
- Watch it completely in Spanish with no subtitles
Slowly work your way through these steps. Even if your child picks up one or two phrases with every movie, that is an incredible achievement!
Just like with the preschoolers, music is a fantastic way for anyone to learn conversational Spanish. Encourage them to look up some popular Latin music, which can be anything from salsa to reggaeton, and print out the lyrics.
Listen to the song together, and try to follow along in Spanish. Look up any key words so you understand the meaning of the song, and jam out together in Spanish. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from just one song!
Take a trip with your teenager to the local Latino festival or market, and talk about vocabulary and phrases. For example, if you go to the market, ask them to find the plátanos, and count how many there are in Spanish.
If your high schooler is more advanced, encourage them to talk to the cashier or participants at the festival in Spanish. The more they get excited about the culture, the more they will want to speak the language.
Some Tips for All Ages
You can do this, mom and dad! Here are some tips to make the learning process fun and easy for everyone involved.
Set realistic expectations
While your child might pick up a few phrases quickly, it will take time before you hear them truly practicing their conversational Spanish. Even if they aren’t yet repeating what they hear, keep exposing them to as much Spanish as possible. Their listening comprehension develops before their speaking skills
Make conversational Spanish part of your routine
The most important part of language learning is consistency and practice. If your goal is to teach your child conversational Spanish, they need to hear and practice the language at least a couple of times a week. Delegate some time in their schedule specifically to language learning and stick with the schedule. Even five minutes a day can help!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Teaching a language is a huge undertaking. If you ever feel overwhelmed or like your child has surpassed what you are able to teach them, ask for help from your native Spanish-speaking friends or tutors.
Look for opportunities to expose your child to the language
Depending on where you live, you can take your child to Latin festivals, Spanish-language movie premieres, or even to a Spanish-speaking country. One of the easiest ways to expose them to the language is through Spanish TV shows and movies. No matter the age, this is a great way to expose them to natural conversation.
Get Support from Native Spanish-Speaking Teachers
If you feel like you just don’t have the time or ability to dedicate yourself to teaching your child conversational Spanish, that is completely fine! Homeschool Spanish Academy is here for you!
We offer live, online classes with native Spanish speakers from Guatemala. While all of our certified teachers do have an incredible curriculum they follow, the main goal of our classes is to lead the student towards conversational fluency. In their very first class, your student will start using key Spanish phrases.
Whether you want to supplement your at-home Spanish activities or are looking for a tutor to take charge of your child’s language needs, our teachers are here to support your family.
Sign up for a free trial class today and see for yourself how quickly your child can start speaking Spanish!
Looking for more Spanish for kids resources? Check out these posts!
- Latin American Food: 15 Must-Try National Dishes of Latin America - January 2, 2021
- The Ultimate Guide to Subjunctive Conjugation in Spanish - December 27, 2020
- Estar Subjunctive: Present and Past Tense Subjunctive - December 23, 2020