How to Teach Kids to Read in Spanish: 10 Easy Tricks
If you want to know how to teach kids to read in Spanish this is a great place to start. In this blog post, I’m discussing why it’s so important for kids not only to learn how to read but to actually develop a love for books. I’m also talking about not only how to teach kids to read, but how to teach them to read in Spanish, which is a little bit different from the simple fact that Spanish isn’t their native language.
Following those two introductory sections, I’m presenting you with 10 easy tricks to teach kids to read in Spanish, starting with the most obvious such as reading to them every night, to some very creative ideas like playing memory games with the Spanish letters as cards. By the end of this post, you should be prepared to teach your kids to read and write in Spanish.
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How to Teach Kids to Read
Reading is the best gift you can give to your children, but not only learning to mechanically read, which is fundamental of course, but I’m also talking about the love for books and a passion for stories.
In this context, learning how to teach kids to read is like having a super-power, a power that makes other people, little people, your most loved people in the world, happy! However, this super-power doesn’t take just one form, it comes in many different ways, and different people (other superheroes) use different strategies and activities. But don’t worry, here you’ll find the most popular and successful ones.
Now, one thing is to learn how to teach kids to read, another very different is how to teach kids to read in Spanish. Because here you’re not only dealing with the “knowing how to read” situation, but with a new language that your kid is still learning.
If you want to teach your child to read and write in Spanish, you need to understand first that this is a process a little bit different than simply teaching them to read. However, I can tell you by experience, that if a kid already knows how to read in their own native language, they will pick it up quite quickly in Spanish, once they understand how the Spanish letters sound and how the Spanish syllables work.
10 Easy Tricks to Teach Kids to Read in Spanish
This is a list of some of the best tricks about how to teach kids to read in Spanish. I’ve applied some of them myself while teaching my daughter, a 5-year-old to read and write. The others, I’ve used with my Spanish students, but all of them are recognized strategies to teach your child how to read.
1. Read to Them Every Night
In the conversation about how to teach kids to read there’s nothing better or more important than reading to them every night. This is not only about teaching your child how to read in Spanish, but about how to read in general, and love and appreciate books and what they give us.
What’s more, reading your kids short books and stories in Spanish, helps them to get used to the sounds and tones of the new language.
2. Let Them See You Reading
This one obviously applies to the “teaching them the love for books” category. But if you really want to lead by example, you can also read in Spanish, nothing motivates your children more than seeing you doing what you’re asking them to do. Visit this link to find 20 Spanish Books, Novels, and Stories in PDF and Printables for all ages.
3. Teach Them the Sounds of the Spanish Letters
Pretty obvious, right? Well, I know of a Spanish teacher who forgot this basic step when starting a promising career (me). The good thing about Spanish letters is that they always keep the exact same sound, you just have to make sure that your kids know what that sound is. Start with easy lessons going letter by letter, explaining every sound, and then you can move on to the following strategies.
4. Sing and Alphabet Song
Once you teach your child the sounds of Spanish letters, it’s time for one of the most effective strategies used by those who know how to teach kids to read: sing a song! Every kid knows the ABC song in English, and while in Spanish there isn’t a single song as widely popular as the English one, you can easily find different alphabet songs in Spanish.
5. Play a Spanish Alphabet Memory Game
I discovered this strategy by accident, but now I recommend it as the best thing you can do to teach your child to read in Spanish. On one of my daughters’ birthdays, she got a memory game with 27 pairs of letters as a present. One in capital letters, the other one in lower cases, and a little colorful drawing of an item whose name starts with that letter.
Every time they would turn a card they had to say the name of the letter and the name of the item on the card. For example, be de bicicleta (b of bicycle) or zeta de zapato (z of shoe). That way they learned the names of the letters and associated them with a real-world thing. All while having fun and not even noticing they were learning to read.
One more thing, this strategy works great for small children, but also for a 6-year-old child or even an older child.
6. Identify Letters with Words
Taking the idea from the Spanish letters memory game, help your children to identify letters with specific words. That way the “c” will usually go with “casa” (house) and the “s” with “sol” (sun). Once they have identified one word per letter, add a second word for each letter. This way they’ll start growing their Spanish vocabulary organically and learning the sounds of both the letters and the words.
During letter week (see below) you can ask them to draw and color the word for their letter of the week.
7. Do Letter Weeks!
This is one of my favorite activities to do with my students when they’re learning to read and write in Spanish. One week you can focus on the letter “A,” how it sounds, how to write it, in capital letters and lower cases, and words that start with that letter. Then, the next week you get them some “E’s,” and once you finish with the vowels start with the consonants.
Don’t forget to print many “A’s” and make sure your kids color them in a different color every day and keep them for later as in a few weeks you’ll have enough colored letters for them to form their own Spanish words.
8. Play with Wooden or Magnetic Letters
It’s no secret that kids learn better when they’re playing games and having fun. I used with my daughter, a 7-year-old, a set of wooden letters specifically designed for Spanish, as they included vowels with accents and other Spanish particularities. But in practice, any set of wooden or magnetic letters work.
Children love to sit on the floor and play with the magnetic letters on the fridge, ask them questions about the Spanish book you read them the night before and motivate them to write the new words in Spanish they’ve learned.
9. Start Working with Syllables
Most Spanish books dealing with the topic of how to teach kids to read, start with easy-to-read words separated by syllables. Once kids learn the sounds of the Spanish letters, the next logical step is working with syllables. Start with simple sounds such as ma-, me-, mi-, mo-, mu-, and words and phrases formed with those syllables such as mi ma-má me mi-ma (my mom pampers me).
10. Get Them Lots of Books!
My last tip on how to teach kids to read in Spanish is not so much as strategy, as it’s an obvious piece of advice. Kids learn to read by reading. If they have no books to read in Spanish, they lose their motivation. I recommend you to read 11 Spanish Fairy Tales: Free Spanish Reading Materials, where you can find many reading resources in Spanish for kids.
“Let’s read!” Remember that when talking about how to teach kids to read in Spanish there are no golden truths. A strategy that works great for me maybe doesn’t work with you and your kids. Look for the right approach for you and your family and don’t forget that reading should be a pleasure, something kids should want to do by themselves, so try to make it as fun and interesting for them as possible.
Remember to download our “Free Spanish Reading Comprehension Worksheet” and use it every time you read a new book or story to your children. It helps you to explore deeper in the story, check their comprehension level, and focus on new Spanish words.
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