Is your older child indifferent toward learning Spanish? It can be frustrating and challenging to get them to understand the benefits of speaking another language. Read on for useful tips to help your child get (and stay) interested.
First of all, you could be motivating your child all wrong! The key to encouraging tweens and teens to learn Spanish is to show them why another language is fun and useful!
Children are motivated in different ways, try to find what suits your child for the best results. Some children are eager to set goals and achieve them, while others want to do the bare minimum to pass their classes. The key here is to find your child’s strengths and work within those limits.
Benefits of Learning Spanish
Some children are exposed to Spanish-speakers and understand the purpose of knowing another language – to communicate with family, friends and community members. Other children are not exposed to Spanish on a daily basis and will need you to show them the value of speaking another language.
Being bilingual gives you an advantage over monolinguals.
Why? Speaking Spanish will increase your child’s competitive edge when it comes time for high school and college admissions, give them the ability to communicate with a wide range of people from various countries and territories (21 to be precise!) – thus opening doors for studying and volunteering abroad, and kids can pick up accents and mimic sounds quicker than adults; thus helping them develop an accent similar to a native speaker.
Let’s Get Real
Do the above reasons make you yawn? Then let’s explore other benefits:
- Listen in on conversations in Spanish that you wouldn’t otherwise understand. This comes in very handy when traveling or if you’re bored on the subway and want to catch up on the latest gossip of the two people sitting across from you.
- Impress your friends or show off at parties/family gatherings with your amazing Spanish accent.
- Understand the lyrics to songs on the radio, like Camila Cabello or Despacito.
- Follow YouTubers in Spanish on cooking and fashion. Set yourself apart in the kitchen and with your wardrobe.
- Watch soccer on Spanish language television and gain a new perspective.
- Order amazing food!
Motivating Your Child
One of the best books to help motivate your child and to encourage them is to determine the “language” your child speaks and understands. The book, The 5 Love Languages of Children, helps you do just that. This book identifies which of the five languages actually work with your child’s personality. The languages children (and adults!) communicate in are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Which one are you using?
Discovering your child’s primary love language can be really useful in unlocking and fostering potential in your child. Understanding how your child thinks and feels (and is motivated) will help you foster growth for many things, including learning.
Another way to get your child interested in language learning is to try something unconventional. Focus on finding ways to make Spanish useful. Plan a trip to a Spanish-speaking country and have your child be prepared to get you from the airport to the Airbnb…in Spanish. Or, go to church conducted in Spanish and ask them to give you an overview of the service that they heard. They may not have an interest in speaking Spanish until they realize they will be the ones solving the puzzle of language in real-time.
My Experience in Motivation
English is my primary language and I speak Spanish as a second language. My family is Dutch, so speaking Spanish is far away on the map of European languages. Growing up, my family would take vacations to Mexico every year. Often times, I was the only family member who could help with directions (this was before Smartphones and Google Translate y’all!), ask for the checkout time at the hotel, and converse with people on the street. I remember being so interested in the culture and history of a city that I would ask the locals question after question. I became highly motivated to improve my Spanish language skills so that when we returned to Mexico the following year, I could understand better and interpret more accurately. Essentially, I became more interested in Spanish when I understood its purpose and I had a meaningful reason to learn another language.
How I Motivate My Older Child
I have a pre-tween at home and it has been challenging at times to get her motivated to speak Spanish. Why? Because English is everywhere and there isn’t a great need to speak another language. I also have many friends who speak Spanish as a first language and want their kids to speak Spanish fluently. Unfortunately, like my child, their child has found it convenient to lean heavily on English.
What do we do? How do we expose them to Spanish and motive them in a mostly English-speaking country? To solve this, my friends and I put our kids in Spanish class together with an amazing teacher who only speaks Spanish!
Other Ways to Inspire your Child
Here are some other great ways to motivate your child to learn Spanish:
- Find out what speaks to them – Games, Movies, Books – and find one in Spanish.
- Stay upbeat – Set realistic goals for your child and stay positive when the goals are met.
- Inspire – Share success stories of children who speak Spanish and the benefits (short-term and long-term).
- Don’t be afraid to fail – Learning another language is challenging and you are not going to be perfect. With language, you have good days and bad days, so go with the flow.
- Consider rewards – Your child is willing to complete a semester or year of Spanish class? Then plan that trip to Guatemala! Or buy them that Lego set they have been asking for and have them use the directions in Spanish to put it together.
- Don’t micromanage – Let your child have a say in the learning experience. Give them control over their class time, let them pick their teacher or when they will study. This will also teach them life-skills.
The Purpose of Learning Spanish
Language exists so that people can communicate with each other. Your child is successful in English because they have a daily purpose for using this language: communicating among peers, talking to family, and getting around. If you are having a difficult time getting your child to speak Spanish, then help them understand its purpose.
The blog, Perks of Being Bilingual, will give you a starting point for having that conversation with your child about the benefits of Spanish. Being bilingual will benefit them as global citizens and set them apart as valued employees. Now is the time to let them know so they can begin developing their understanding of basic Spanish vocabulary and grammar rules.
Take your first step today by signing up for a free class with Spanish Academy! Find a teacher that inspires your child and get them speaking Spanish!Read More
Learning Spanish can be tough at times—verb conjugations, irregular verbs, subjunctive mood, and articles can trip up the most astute of Spanish learners. One thing that seems to facilitate the learning adventure is the hundreds of similar-sounding words in English and Spanish. These words, called cognates, are words that are either spelled the same or similar and often sound alike in both languages. Because English and Spanish have some of the same roots, there are numerous cognates that make communicating in Spanish a lot easier.
When I first immersed myself in Spanish conversation, I understood a lot more than I expected because of cognates! Even though I hadn’t necessarily studied certain words, I was able to pick up on their meaning because the familiar structure and pronunciation reflected their English counterparts. Thanks to this blog post, you can do the same!
Let’s look at some cognates that are spelled exactly the same, but have a different pronunciation:
As you can see from these examples, while the cognates are spelled the same, the Spanish pronunciation is slightly different, mainly because of the vowels. Also, note that some cognates add an accent in Spanish!
Have you ever just added an o to the end of an English word to make its Spanish equivalent? While this doesn’t always work, there is some truth to it.
Let’s check out some nouns that can be changed into a Spanish word with just adding an –o or –a to the end:
Minor Spelling Changes
Now, the following words sound like you just add o or a to the English word, when in reality the spelling changes a bit more than that. Check them out!
Did you see how some vowels change or disappear, like in blusa and pingüino? In certain words, a ph is replaced by an f, like in teléfono, or a letter is added, like in carro. Either way, these words are extremely similar in both spelling and pronunciation.
All the words we’ve looked at so far are nouns, or sustantivos. Many more adjectives—adjetivos (another example of cognates!)—follow the rule of “just add an –o or –a.” Let’s see some examples:
Look for Patterns
Can you find any patterns to help you know which English adjectives just add an –o in Spanish? Here’s a hint: What do most of the English words end in? Yes! Most of them end in “-ic” or “-al.” The ones that end in “-ic” just need an –o added on to the end (and sometimes an accent mark) to turn them into their Spanish equivalent. For the words that end in “-al,” we need to take away those last two letters before adding on the –o.
Keep in mind that these adjectives will not always end in –o. You may remember that adjectives in Spanish change to agree with the noun. If the noun is feminine, the adjective will end in –a; if the noun is plural, the adjective will end need an –s at the end.
Ella es muy romántica. Él es muy romántico.
Ellas son muy románticas. Ellos son muy románticos.
So, while these cognates are pretty simple to form, they always change to maintain the noun-adjective agreement!
Tilde Adds Emphasis
Also, did you happen to notice that every Spanish word has an accent mark on the third to last syllable? Don’t forget those crucial tildes!
-Y to -IA Cognates
Are there more patterns to making Spanish cognates, you ask? Why, of course! This next group of words is more nouns whose English “-y” converts to a Spanish –ia. Check out how easy it is to make their Spanish equivalent:
As you can see, in order to make the Spanish cognates, you keep the base of the word but change the “-y” to –ia. Be attentive to pronunciation changes—some words have an accent on the final i.
-ANCE to -ANCIA Cognates
Another group of cognates changes to an –ia at the end of a word. Check out these nouns!
-ITY to -IDAD Cognates
Not all English words that end in “-y” end in –ia in Spanish. For those words nouns that end in “-ity,” the rule is a little different. The “-ity” becomes –idad. Practice with these examples:
-TION to -CIÓN Cognates
One more cognate group of nouns to go; these are probably some of the most well-known ones:
Back to Adjective Cognates
Phew! That’s a lot of noun cognates! Do you remember talking about some adjective cognates in Spanish? Well, there’s more. Let’s take a look.
-OUS to -OSO Cognates
English words that end in “-ous” can change in two different ways in Spanish, either changing that ending to a -oso or just add an –o.
-OUS to -O Cognates
Remember, the –o ending is for adjectives that describe masculine words. If it describes a feminine or plural noun, the ending will be slightly different.
Alright, we’ve looked at cognates with nouns and adjectives, but what about verbs? That’s right—many verbs are cognates as well. Before we start, do you remember the infinitive verb endings in Spanish? They are -ar, -er, and -ir. So, when we talk about verb cognates, we are referring to verbs in English that can be changed into Spanish verbs by just adding one of the infinitive endings. The trick is to know which one!
Cognates Without a Pattern
Not every cognate follows a rule or pattern. Some words are unique, but are still cognates nonetheless!
Wow! So many cognates exist in English and Spanish, including countless more beyond this starter guide. Now you know some of the main patterns that form Spanish cognates and you can use them as needed in a conversation.
The ultimate tip is: if you are not sure how to say a word in Spanish, try forming a cognate!
Trust me, if you make a mistake with cognates, you won’t be the first one! But, before you hit the ground running with your new cognate-forming skills, let me warn you—exceptions and false cognates are lurking everywhere. Catch up on false cognates before you travel to a Spanish-speaking country or start talking to a group of Spanish-speaking friends. (Luckily, people are pretty forgiving about mistakes in this area.)
Warm-up your skills by practicing with a native Spanish speaker for free in a trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy (you know you want to!). Our teachers will happily give you more cognates and help you with your pronunciation!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
There’s only one thing other than the two-month long holiday at the end of the year* I miss about school: wearing a uniform! I went to the same school for 14 years, and for 12 of those years, I wore a uniform! Now, it’s been almost ten years since I graduated, but I just realized that for almost half my life I’ve known what to wear! Don’t you think it would be easier sometimes if you didn’t have to decide what to wear every single day? Just think of those days you stay at home wearing pajamas. Isn’t it nice not having to think about clothes or what to wear? Since you’re starting to learn Spanish, you’ll start thinking about these things in Spanish, too: ¿Qué me pongo? – What should I put on?
Nuestro uniforme era un pantalón o falda gris y una camisa polo blanca. (Our uniform was grey pants or skirt and a white polo shirt.) Just imagine a couple hundred children wearing the same clothes! While wearing a uniform makes life so much easier, I do like being able to decide what to wear. I love wearing vestidos (dresses) and botas de combate negras (black combat boots) – that would have been a big no-no at school! So, today let’s learn how to describe the clothes we wear – la ropa que nos ponemos.
*Fun fact: In Guatemala, the school year begins in January and ends in October!
If you want to hear the pronunciation of the following phrases and vocabulary, check out our video! You can also download the printable version of this blog as a PDF.
¿Qué te pones o qué llevas puesto?
While there is more than one way to say ‘to put on’ and ‘to wear’ in Spanish, we will focus today on ponerse (to put on – the act of getting dressed) and llevar puesto (to wear – the act of using clothes).
The main difference between the two is that you say ponerse when you’re referring to the action of putting clothes on only.
Ponerse is a reflexive verb.
‘Poner’ means to put, and ‘-se’ means oneself.
This means that in Spanish you are literally putting clothes on yourself – not just ‘on!’
As we’ve mentioned several times, language is way more than just translating words. Something interesting happens here:
- In English, when you’re wondering which dress would be best for your cousin’s wedding you ask: What should I wear to the wedding? – referring to the action of already having the clothes on, of using them.
- In Spanish, however, you would ask: ¿Qué me pongo para la boda? – What do I put on for the wedding? – referring to the action of putting on clothes, instead of starting to use them.
As we learned above, ponerse is a reflexive verb. We use a reflexive verb when we want to say that the subject in a sentence performs an action on itself. In this case, we are putting the clothes on ourselves. We conjugate this verb like this:
Use of Articles
As we have seen above, the use of articles- or lack thereof – depends largely on the context. Let’s review!
Llevar means to carry. In the context of clothes, we say in Spanish that we carry the clothes that are on us. The way to say this is to use the adjective* puesto to describe where the clothes are. Llevar puesto [insert noun here] then means that we are actively using the clothes, carrying them placed onus: we are wearing them!
llevar ropa puesta
llevar – to carry, ropa – clothes, puesta – placed/put on us
* puesto is also the participle of the verb poner – in Spanish (just like in English), we can use participles as adjectives to describe nouns!
Something very important to note here is that since puesto is an adjective, it needs to match the noun it refers to! The matching needs to occur both in number and gender.
Let’s look at it:
Since puesto is an adjective, we can place it both before or after the noun. Whether it goes before or after depends on what you’re saying! Check out more on Spanish adjective placement here. So we can say:
* Keep in mind the use of articles with ponerse. We use them the same way we would with llevar puesto! If you need a refresher, check out the table above once more!
Conjugating llevar puesto
When we conjugate llevar puesto [noun], we need to keep in mind that
- the verb llevar matches the subject of the sentence,
- the adjective puesto matches the noun that the subject of the sentence is wearing!
The best way to learn how to describe what you’re wearing is to practice every day as you’re getting dressed! I suggest adding the articles every time so that you get extra practice with the new vocabulary! As an example, let me tell you what my morning looked like:
Yo me pongo el pantalón. Yo me pongo la playera. Yo me pongo las calcetas. Yo me pongo los zapatos. Me pongo gorra antes de salir. Al estar afuera, pienso, ¡llevo puesta toda esta ropa!
(I put on pants. I put on a T-shirt. I put on socks. I put on my shoes. I put on a cap before I leave. Once I’m outside, I think, “I’m wearing all these clothes!”)
Now it’s YOUR turn to practice! Book your FREE CLASS with us so that you can tell us all about your favorite clothes and when you like to wear them!
For more practice, download this PDF complete with exercises and an answer key!
Don’t forget to practice your pronunciation with our supporting video lesson!Read More