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
One of the most enjoyable aspects of learning Spanish with preschoolers is learning colors! Kids love the hands-on experience of mixing, painting, or playing coloring games. While they are happily engaged in play, you will have the added bonus of knowing they are improving their Spanish skills. The color theme is a perfect one to use to add on other themes, such as shapes and me gusta (I like) grammar phrases. You can find out more about these additional themes below. Use this handy guide for teaching colors to preschoolers to enhance your child’s Spanish-learning journey and make playtime that much more colorful!
While we are keeping this guide super simple for young learners, it’s useful for you to know some basics about colors. Firstly, you may remember that Spanish uses a grammatical gender for all nouns. Secondly, we know that when colors are acting as adjectives, they describe a noun. This means that the gender of the color will change depending on the gender of the noun. For example, el carro (the car) is masculine and so el carro morado (the purple car) uses a masculine form of the color purple. La hoja (pronounced OH-ha) is a feminine noun and so la hoja morada (the purple leaf) uses a feminine form of the color purple. Basically, every color word that ends in -o can also end in -a, depending on what it is describing. Keep this rule in mind as you teach your child, but don’t feel like you have to give an explicit lesson on it. By consistently using the colors correctly as you expand your lessons with more and more nouns, your child will likely pick up on this pattern automatically.
Now, on to our list of colors!
Colors are everywhere and there is no limit to the possible activities you can use to teach them. We have some favorite activities listed below and hope that you feel inspired to add to them with your own great ideas. What are some ways you can play with colors in Spanish?
- Flashcards – check out our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Color Flashcards (download below) and read about flashcard games here.
- Color sorting – using different mediums, such as fruit loops, nature, or toy food, have your little one sort the objects by color. Repeat the Spanish color word each time a new object is placed correctly.
- Color science and mixing – Do a double lesson on mixing primary colors and naming them in Spanish. This is especially fun using finger paints. It’s okay to use a little ‘Spanglish’ here when your child begins to shout “rojo and azul make morado!”
- Coloring book – instruct your child how to color a picture with the Spanish colors you say. As they begin to color, they repeat the word. Expand your child’s vocabulary with our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Greetings Coloring Pages.
- Color scavenger hunt – whether inside or outside, designate an area where you and your little one will explore all the colors, naming them as you go. You could also make color cards (or use our flashcards) to encourage your child to focus on one specific color at a time.
- Playdough – while learning new vocabulary to go with colors, playdough comes in handy. For example, use our shape guide below to teach colorful shapes and have your child make them out of playdough! Or, make playdough together and practice the new color words while cooking it.
- Color hop with chalk – take to the sidewalk or a patio of your house and draw big squares (or any shape, if working with shapes) of different colors. Instruct your child to jump on a specific color and say the name out loud. They get to tell you where to jump, too!
- Libro de colores (Book of Colors) – Use a packet of craft paper and look together for the colors you will be learning. Cut out the papers the same size and make a booklet. With a marker, write the appropriate Spanish color name on each page. If your child is learning to write, have them write the word underneath your example. Then, find together little one-colored objects to glue onto each color page! You can also make this booklet out of regular white paper and use colored cut-outs from craft paper to glue into the book. You can incorporate pages for many themes, including shapes and even some grammar. Label each page accordingly.
As you teach colors to your eager little learner, dive deeper to include shapes! This way you can begin to explore the gender changes that colors make when describing a noun. Remember that Spanish adjectives (in this case, colors) always come after the noun. Some examples are:
El círculo azul – the blue circle
La estrella amarilla – the yellow star
El rectángulo marrón – the brown rectangle
Here is a list of shapes you can start with:
Me Gusta (I like)
In addition to learning colors, you may want to teach your child how to express their preferences. Here is a quick list of variations of me gusta that you can use in your lessons.
¡Me gusta! – I like it!
Me gusta el color verde. – I like the color green.
Me gusta amarillo. – I like yellow.
¿Cuál es tu color favorito? – What is your favorite color?
¿Qué color te gusta más? – What color do you like the most?
Colorful Spanish Lessons
We hope you enjoy this guide to teaching colors in exciting and educative ways. Add to the fun with our colorful video lesson here! If you would like your child to practice their new color skills with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, sign up for an online class! The first class is free and your child is guaranteed to speak Spanish after the first lesson.Read More
Social media is one of the most powerful tools we have at our fingertips for language learning. Are you using it in the right way? It turns out that we can continue to enjoy the time spent on our favorite social media sites while we practice our Spanish skills by following some of the top creative and educational Spanish-speaking personalities on the web. No matter where in the world you may be, you can take advantage of the Spanish-immersion experience that these media channels provide with just a few clicks. Here we have compiled a list of the Top 8 Spanish-Speaking People You Should Follow if you would like to improve your language skills, learn more vocabulary, and have fun doing it. ¡Comencemos!
Eight Spanish-Speaking People to Follow
Social Media Resources for Beginners
If you happen to feel intimidated by the list we provided above, don’t worry! We all start somewhere and we’ve got something for you, too. If you consider yourself a beginner Spanish-learner and you would like to know who to follow for grammar tips and quick lessons, check these out:
Would you like to study up on social media vocabulary words in Spanish? Check out our mini-poster here!
Following for Fluency
Boost your language learning powers by adding this list of Spanish speakers and teachers to your social media. By engaging with their material on a daily basis, you are sure to improve your skills. If you would like to practice what you learn with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, join a free class from Homeschool Spanish Academy. You’ll be speaking Spanish after the first class, guaranteed!
Do you know the opposite of gordo in Spanish? After exploring this guide to Teaching Spanish Opposites to Preschoolers, you’ll know the answer to that (if you don’t already) and much more! Part of the excitement of teaching Spanish to your child is learning (or brushing up on) fun vocabulary like opposites. With knowledge of opposites, your child will be able to describe things in more detail and easily compare two objects or people. They will continue to develop their understanding of concrete concepts like texture, temperature, size, and more. Opposites provide one of the building blocks to success in the four major skills for language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As determined as you may be to start learning this vocabulary right away, keep in mind that a child does not generally understand the concept of opposites before age 4. Once your little one is making connections in their native language, it’s time to introduce new words from Spanish opposites! ¡Aprendamos los opuestos!
The words in this list are all descriptive adjectives, perfect for use in conjunction with whichever nouns you are teaching your child at the moment. Do remember that Spanish is a gendered language, where the adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun they are describing. You will notice that there are also some that do not change, such as grande and joven. Any adjectives that end in -o will change their ending to -a when in relation to a feminine noun. Here are some examples:
Feminine noun and adjective: La casa pequeña (the small house), la mosca lenta (the slow fly), la bebida fría (the cold drink)
Masculine noun and adjective: El niño pequeño (the little boy), el burro lento (the slow donkey), el té frío (the cold tea)
Gender-neutral adjectives: el libro grande (the big book), la rana grande (the big frog), el horno caliente (the hot oven), la piedra caliente (the hot stone), la chica joven (the young girl), el chico joven (the young boy).
Here is a list of 24 opposite words with a pronunciation guide!
There are lots of potential activities to do with opposites! Mixing up your lessons with movement, crafts, imaginary play, and card games will keep your child fully engaged. Here is a list of great ideas that you can build upon with your own creativity:
- Flashcards are versatile essentials for teaching. Enjoy our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards (download below) as a must-have learning tool! Be sure to laminate them for durability. See what else you can do with flashcards here.
- Play “Memory Match” flashcard game: lay all flashcards face down and each player takes turns trying to make a match of opposites. The player with the most matches wins.
- Traditional Go Fish card game: Deal 5 cards to each player. You start by asking, “Do you have the opuesto of viejo (or whichever Spanish word you have)?” The other player looks for the opposite. If they have it, they give it to you and you set out your winning pair face up on the table. If they don’t have the card, they say, “Go Fish!” and you must pull another card from the deck. The winner has the most pairs!
- Space Travel imaginary play: Explain to your child that they will be going to space to find opposites. Place them on a chair in the middle of the room, let them know that the chair is a rocket ship and that they are going up into space. Count to 10 and blast off! Turn out the lights. Once your child is floating in space, give them a flashlight and show them one flashcard. Instruct them to find the opposite flashcard, hidden somewhere in the room. When they find all the opposites, they can sit back down on the chair (the rocket ship!) and head back down to Earth.
- Book of Collages: cut out magazine pictures to reflect the meaning of each new word you’re teaching and glue them down on construction paper. Gather up all the papers and make a book by stapling them three times down the left side.
- Play “I Spy the Opposite”: Start with your child saying “I spy _____” using one of the opposite words (“I spy delgado”). Then you reply, “I spy gordo!” This game is really fun and very effective if you couple it with specific movements, called TPR.
While learning opposites, you can teach your child relevant phrases and vocabulary that helps them express themselves. Here are a few useful phrases you can use with this lesson:
El opuesto – the opposite
¿Qué ves? – What do you see?
Yo veo a _______. – I see _______.
¿Qué es el opuesto de _______? – What’s the opposite of _______?
El opuesto de _______ es _______. – The opposite of _______ is _______.
Here is an example mini-lesson using the questions and answers from above, using a parent and their child:
Parent: ¿Qué ves?
Child: Yo veo a un hombre viejo. (I see an old man.)*
Parent: ¿Qué es el opuesto de viejo?
Child: El opuesto de viejo es joven.
Parent: ¡Muy bien!
First model the conversation above with your child by using a doll or puppet. Then have your child repeat after you a few times. Soon your child will begin to remember how to say the phrases. This lesson will be lots of fun with the Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards.
*If you are not yet working with a collection of nouns, you can substitute the noun with the word “algo,” (ahl-goh) which means “something.” Example: Yo veo algo viejo. (I see something old.)
Condition and Location
The opposites in the list refer to the condition or location of something. If you want to teach a bit more complicated lesson, you can include these phrases using estar:
- Condition (mode of being for a person or thing)
Adjectives: grande, pequeño, limpio, sucio, cerrado, abierto, lento, rápido, mojado, seco, frío, caliente, gordo, delgado, lleno, vacio, joven, viejo
¿Cómo está? – How is it?
¿Cómo está el/la _______? – How is the _______?
Está _______. (Está vacío.) – It is_______. (It is empty.)
El/La _______ está _______. (El hombre está mojado.) – The _______ is _______. (The man is wet.)
- Location (a place or situation occupied):
Adjectives: dentro, fuera, cerca, lejos, arriba, abajo
¿Dónde está? – Where is it?
¿Dónde está el/la _______? – Where is the _______?
Está _______. (Está lejos.) – It is_______. (It is far.)
El/La _______ está _______. (La mujer está arriba.) – The _______ is _______. (The woman is above.)
Learning opposites is super fun for young children. It helps them to better understand their surroundings and to describe in detail what they are experiencing. We hope you are inspired to teach Spanish opposites to your little one by taking advantage of this starter guide. If you would like to have your child practice their new vocabulary with a native speaker from Guatemala, sign up for a free online class today and they’ll start speaking Spanish immediately!Read More
Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers
Teaching Spanish to very young learners can seem like a challenge at first. Where do you start? How do you engage your child or student? Luckily, there are plenty of activities, games, and songs that we can use to help our little ones achieve Spanish fluency. By starting with a simple theme like greetings, you can introduce new words and pronunciations while you play and have fun! With our quick guide to Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers, you will be teaching and speaking Spanish with your little one in no time. ¡Aprendamos a saludar!
(For a more detailed lesson on Spanish greetings, check this out.)
Greetings are an essential part of language learning. They are necessary for participating in a community and interacting politely with one another. For many of us, greetings were some of our very first words in our native language. Likewise, they are the first thing we learn in a foreign language. Here is a list of the most common and useful Spanish greetings for preschoolers.
It’s great to have a list of new words and phrases, but what to do with them? That’s where the activities come in! By using vocabulary lists in a meaningful and fun way, your child will be much more motivated to learn and retain new information.
Flashcards make an excellent visual tool for teaching new vocabulary. They help your young learner associate the pictures with the words and to understand better the meaning. They can also imitate the movements or ideas present in the pictures. Our colorful Greetings for Preschoolers Flashcards include all of the greetings in this guide. In order to print them as flashcards, click Print and go to Settings. Under Pages Per Sheet, choose 4 and for Scale, choose “Default”. When you print, it will give you four flashcards to each printed sheet that you can cut out and use right away. (Print -> Settings -> Pages Per Sheet: 4 -> Scale: Default) What can you do with flashcards?
- Sequencing: After exploring the meaning of the new words and phrases, you and your child can lay out all the cards on a table or the floor in the sequence that they might occur. Which comes first? Good morning or good night? Hello or good-bye? Allow your child to create sequences on their own to ensure they understand
- GoFish with rods and magnets: This activity requires small magnets and a rod or stick, but it is well worth it! Put a magnet on each flashcard and lay it down on the floor. Make a fishing rod out of a stick and string, tying a magnet to the end of the string. Have your child search for the words and phrases you say while they try to fish them out. This is guaranteed tons of fun!
- Total Physical Response (TPR): Create a specific movement for each of the 12 flashcards and use this every single time you practice it with your child. They will begin to associate the movement with the sounds of the words and the meaning will become even more clear to them through practice and repetition. Read more about TPR and other strategies for teaching Spanish to your child.
Combine motor skills with memory and give your child our exclusive Greetings for Preschoolers Coloring Pages. Each page uses the same vocabulary found in the flashcards that you can use for practicing and studying! Repeat each word and phrase while your little one has fun coloring. You can also focus on a few words a week, have your child color the pages, and then hang them in a place they will see frequently.
Model imaginary play for your child by getting out your Spanish puppet or other toys. Set them up in a conversation and show how they interact using the new words and phrases. Here is an example conversation the puppets could have using the list of greetings:
Puppet 1: Hola, ¿cómo te llamas?
Puppet 2: Hola, me llamo Pedro.
Puppet 1: Mucho gusto, Pedro. Me llamo María.
Puppet 2: ¡Mucho gusto, Maria!
The conversation should start out simple and easy, then you can build in new phrases later. After you show your child how the puppets talk, get them involved! One puppet can talk to your child or you can hand over one of the puppets for your child to use.
Reading books in Spanish is an effective and exciting way to teach your child new words and to reinforce vocabulary that is being learned. Check out our list of Spanish books designed for preschool learners. For books specifically about greetings, try out one of these:
- Hello Night / Hola Noche by Amy Costales
- Buenas Noches, Luna by Margaret Wise Brown
- How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? By Angela Dominguez
Singing is not only fun, but an extremely powerful tool to help your child memorize new words and phrases. There are plenty of fun and educational songs for kids to choose from in Spanish. While we’re focusing solely on greetings in the guide, you might enjoy these:
Greetings Are Great
We hope that with access to this great guide, you and your child will have lots of fun while practicing Spanish. If you are interested in learning with a native Spanish teacher for free, sign up for an online class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Television often gets a bad rap in the realm of childhood development, but did you know that it can actually provide some benefit for your child learning a foreign language? For Spanish language learners, the regular (if not daily!) auditory experience of the target language is recommended in order to have the strongest impact. Television – in the right context – can help us achieve listening goals in Spanish and improve fluency. Additionally, by exploring what educational television has to offer, we can find what inspires and ignites in our child the curiosity to learn more! Let’s take a look at a few of the best educational TV shows in Spanish for kids. ¡Miremos tele!
- El Show de Perico (3-12 years)
This funny children’s show originates from Colombia. It mimics the style of a talk show, using its host, Perico, to interview a guest in each episode. Accompanying Perico are his friends, an egg who is afraid to crack his shell and an easily-offended tapir named Amanda. Together they discuss many topics, ranging from emotional awareness to the environment, as well as giving instruction on phonetics and spelling. At the beginning of each episode, the guest generally presents a problem to the young viewers. Perico and his friends try to find a solution throughout the course of the episode. You can find plenty of episodes for this show on YouTube.
- Migrópolis (3-9 years)
A moving mini-series based on real-life interviews; this show aims to educate even its smallest viewers on what it’s like to be an immigrant child living in another country. The scenes are animated with animal characters using the recorded children’s voices who talk candidly about their feelings toward moving to such a drastically different place. The program takes us all over the world to meet Spanish-speaking children whose stories will fill you with joy, curiosity, and sometimes even a bit of sadness. The colorful cartoon will keep the youngest viewers super engaged while the somewhat older children (5+ years) will be inspired by what they hear. Complete episodes of the first season are on YouTube.
- Érase una vez: el cuerpo humano (6-12 years)
“Once Upon a Time: The Human Body” is a series of Spanish animated television programs that tell colorful stories about the human body and how it works. Fun and unique characters describe detailed biological functions in simple terms and analogies that children can understand. All of the body parts and functions explored in the series appear as a real person. For example, the brain is a bearded old man whose name is Maestro (Master), neurotransmitters are little blue delivery guys who are always in a hurry, and any pathogens (bacteria and viruses) act as big and little bullies. It’s an excellent way to introduce the concept of a “society within the body” and to learn biology in Spanish! You can watch full episodes on YouTube.
Bilingual Educational TV Shows
In addition to these authentic Spanish shows, you can also include the English cartoons that your child knows and loves. If you use Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other media-service provider, you can switch the language to Spanish and let your young one watch all of their favorite episodes. If you are looking for new material, try one of these educational programs:
- Creative Galaxy
- Peg + Cat
- Doc McStuffins
- Sid the Science Kid
Favorable Screen Time
Not all screen time is bad! With this list of educational TV programs in Spanish, you are equipped to help your child gain more experience listening to native speakers in interesting situations. If you’d like to give your child the gift of an interactive lesson with a native speaker, sign up for a free online class at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Your child will be speaking Spanish in the first class. What’s more, they will have someone to ask about the fun new shows they’re watching in Spanish!Read More
Splash, thud, vroom, zap! What is going on in here!? It sounds like a bunch of superheroes are starting to battle it out at a pool party. Herein lies the wonder of onomatopoeia, or words that imitate a particular sound. Now, read those four words at the beginning one more time. What images do you see when you read them? These words have the ability to evoke an image or sensation in your mind, rendering the communication that much more effective. When we are young, we learn many of these words casually through socializing and watching movies or cartoons. For parents who are teaching Spanish to their preschoolers, be sure to include a rich variety of books and sounds! As a Spanish learner, using onomatopoeia will enhance the creativity of your speech and writing. Your understanding will improve now that you know even more useful vocabulary. What’s more, you can better convey your personality and strengthen the impact of your descriptions of people, things, and their actions. Since onomatopoeia is a word form of a sound, it is a word form of movement. As such, we have three categories of things that move and make noise while doing it: people, animals, and objects. These movements can express themselves as sound effects or they can function as verbs, which is a distinction we will explore below. Let’s check out the most popular and useful Spanish onomatopoeia for you to start using right away. ¡Zas!
Onomatopoeia as Sound Effects
If you are familiar with comic books or cartoons, you are no stranger to the value of sound effects. What would Batman have been without his staple ‘boom!’, ‘whack!’ and ‘pow!’ is a question we will never have to ask. The words we use to portray sound can enliven and enrich the scenes of a storyline and, if used correctly, it will do the same for your conversations! The following sound effects are divided into the three categories mentioned previously: people, animals, and objects. You will notice that some are similar or identical to English and that others can be used by any of the three categories.
Onomatopoeia as Verbs
In our native language, we are very likely to use onomatopoeia verb-forms, especially when we are trying to paint a picture with descriptive words. There is a big difference between “the dog made a mean sound” and “the dog growled.” In the latter example, you can practically hear the dog’s aggression and probably even picture him baring his teeth. Again, the power of onomatopoeia is all about creating images and sensations in the listener’s mind. Keep in mind that all three categories mentioned above – people, animals, and objects – can make use of these verbs. Here is a list of common onomatopoeia verbs that are useful when describing in detail the noise that something makes:
Practice Makes Perfect
By practicing these fun and useful onomatopoeia, you will improve your Spanish and boost the quality of your conversations! Try them out next time you have to write a descriptive essay in Spanish or plan to teach someone some entertaining vocabulary. Would you like someone to practice with? Check out our free online class that guarantees you’ll be speaking Spanish before it ends!
The early elementary years, with such a heavy focus on reading and writing, act as the foundation of your child’s literacy process. During this fertile time of learning, parents can take advantage of the explosion of growth and add another language to the mix! Spanish joins the ranks of the most important languages of the 21st century and is considered to be the easiest language for English speakers to learn. Why not add Spanish to your child’s language abilities? By teaching your child to read and write in English and Spanish, you give the gift of biliteracy. Biliteracy, or the ability to read and write in two languages, will enhance your child’s cognitive function, increase their multi-cultural awareness, and even give them a head start toward success as an adult. Who wouldn’t want that for their child? It may seem intimidating at first to imagine teaching your child to read in Spanish, but with an armful of entertaining Spanish children’s books and the will to use language teaching strategies, you can absolutely do this!
Our list of Spanish books is directed toward children in grades 1-3 who have some Spanish phonological awareness and have been exposed to the Spanish alphabet. Here is a list of 10 engaging and fun books to jump-start the journey to biliteracy!
10 Spanish Books for Grades 1-3
- Abuela – Arthur Dorros
This is a sweet and heartfelt story about how a young girl named Rosalba experiences her favorite times with her grandmother. Together in a dream-like fantasy, they fly over New York City, visiting places that remind her of her grandma’s arrival to the United States. The English version with Spanish phrases showcases isolated Spanish words and is great for picking up new vocabulary around love and family. The Spanish Only version is perfect for readers who understand a bit more than basic Spanish.
- Hairs/Pelitos – Sandra Cisneros
Although this book is more than 20 years old, its excellent core message remains more relevant than ever. A story about the importance of diversity, each page explores the different colors and textures in hairstyles worn by members of families from various backgrounds. It is a story about family, celebrating the differences found within and praising the blessings that it brings. The author alternates between English and Spanish, using both languages expertly to create fun imagery. This book will teach your child how to use analogies in Spanish, such as, “hair like a broom,” “hair like fur,” and “hair like candy.”
- Los vestidos de mamá – Monica Carretero
An imaginative love story between a girl and her mother shows through her mother’s colorful dresses the fantastical adventures they inspire in the girl’s mind. She visits an underwater home of mermaids, the crescent moon in a starry night sky, and a blossoming meadow on a hill, among other magical places. It’s a wonderful book to learn plenty of useful present tense verbs. It even comes with activities at the end, including making paper dolls and a few pages of white dresses that can be colored to suit your child’s imagination.
- Dragones y tacos – Adam Rubin
Two seemingly unrelated things combine to make this book silly and loads of fun: dragons and tacos. Did you know that tacos are a dragon’s favorite food? You and your child will surely love learning all about it. Learn food vocabulary (especially types of tacos and salsas!) and how to discuss what dragon’s like. Your child will be mesmerized by the watercolors and colored pencil illustrations that capture the imagination.
- El caballero que no tenía caballo – JS Pinillos
Your child will love this funny little story about a knight who wishes to rescue a princess, but he doesn’t have a horse! Naturally, he decides he needs a horse in order to save the princess from the scary dragon. So, he goes to the market to look for the best horse he can find. To his dismay, each horse he approaches rejects him for a silly reason. The repetitive language between the knight and the horses makes it very easy for the young reader to join in and start using these Spanish phrases. Enjoy the funny pictures and amusing, non-traditional “prince to the rescue” story.
- Oso quiere volar – Susana Isern
With a life lesson that encourages readers to follow their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem, this book is perfect for inspiring young minds. It shows how a neighborhood of forest animals makes a big fuss out of the bear’s dream to fly. Each has an opinion about how his dream certainly cannot come true. Will bear prove them wrong? This story won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, which celebrates books that honor the joys and challenges of childhood. The Spanish Only version is more suited for children who know basic Spanish.
- La sombrerería mágica – Sonja Wimmer
One day, a mysterious hat shop appears in the middle of a small town. The inhabitants are mystified and curious about the hats. One by one, they try on a hat only to find something very strange and intriguing happen! A story about self-esteem, authenticity, and being true to oneself, this book is a must-have for every young person growing into their uniqueness. While enhancing your child’s Spanish vocabulary, you can also teach them to treasure all the ways they are special and one-of-a-kind.
- La gallina cocorina – Mar Pavon
What’s worse than a bad rumor? Being the target of it, of course! Follow Clucky (“Cocorina”), the loving yet forgetful mother-hen, and her baby chicks as they explore their unconditional love for one another in the face of hurtful gossip. The story shares a very powerful lesson on how talking negatively about others is painful and unnecessary. It’s a lesson that every young child must learn, and doing so with Clucky and her chicks will be sure to stick in their memory.
- Margarito – Carmen Gil
This story is full of emotion and descriptive words that are great for Spanish readers. Margarito is a beloved donkey who comes to live on a farm at a young age and grows old there. Over time, he loses strength, agility, and even his hearing. While he may have lost many characteristics, he gains the wisdom to help all the other animals on the farm learn to get along with one another. The lesson of this well-illustrated book reminds us that we must love and respect our elders, knowing that they hold valuable knowledge that they can teach the younger generations.
- Ayobami y el nombre de los animales – Pilar Lopez Avila
This story will give your little one direct insight into the importance of literacy. Meet Ayobami, a young African girl who dreams of going to school. When the war ends, she can finally fulfill her dream. However, to get to the schoolhouse, she must take the dangerous path through the jungle. With only paper and a worn pencil, Ayobami sets out to achieve her dream to learn to read and write. This is a story about the importance of education and the challenges that many children face in going to school.
The Blessing of Biliteracy
Although there are multiple proven paths to a child’s biliteracy, it is certain that reading Spanish books at home is one of them. By setting aside a time each night where you and your child take part in reading these lovely, lesson-filled stories that enliven the mind and delight the senses, you will make learning fun. Your child’s journey to bilingualism and biliteracy starts at home and can be expanded into taking an online class where they can practice with a native Spanish speaker. Be sure to gather a diverse set of resources found on this blog to help foster a love for reading Spanish books and to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. ¡Que lo disfruten!Read More
“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
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