Looking for ways to incorporate more basic Spanish vocabulary words into your child’s everyday vocabulary? When it comes to Spanish for kids, the key is to keep it simple and fun. Below, you’ll find a collection of the easiest common words in Spanish and the most fun vocabulary for kids to learn, as well as strategies and suggestions for how to teach your child Spanish.
|¿cómo estás?||How are you?|
|Me gusta||I like|
|No me gusta||I don’t like|
|Lo siento||I’m sorry|
|Te quiero||I love you|
|Rojo Oscuro||Dark Red|
|Azul Marino||Navy Blue|
|Azul Rey||Royal Blue|
Whether your goal for your child is to help them gain a basic understanding of the Spanish language or to become fully fluent, your child will soon discover the advantages of having a second language under their belt.
Although the best way to learn Spanish is with a tutor, there are certain things you can do at home to reinforce what your child is learning during Spanish lessons. It’s important for your child to put in a bit of practice every day, so practicing alongside your kid is a great way to reinforce positive study habits. Plus, you’ll be able to sharpen your Spanish-speaking skills as well.
Why Should Kids Learn Spanish?
There are plenty of reasons for your child to learn Spanish words. Not only will they be able to connect with Spanish speakers, but they’ll also be better equipped to pick up additional languages in the future. Many language enthusiasts find that once you have one foreign language down, learning another one is much easier!
Spanish is the world’s fourth-most spoken language, trailing only English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi. With over 500 million native speakers around the globe, you have probably been in more than one situation where even a basic knowledge of Spanish would’ve gone a long way.
Why should your child take up Spanish vocabulary lessons? Check out some benefits below:
- Get an academic leg-up: Spanish is the most commonly taught second language in public schools, so starting your young one early will help them in future academic settings.
- Comprehend English better: Because English and Spanish share roots in Latin, your child’s understanding of the English language will improve. They may also better understand how different languages evolve.
- Open up travel possibilities: When your children are old enough to travel, conversing in Spanish will allow them to comfortably navigate around Spanish-speaking countries.
- Broaden cultural perspectives: As your child learns more of this wonderful language, you can introduce them to Spanish films, music, plays, and literature.
- Experience more job opportunities: Having a second language on their resume, especially the world’s second-most spoken native language, can help them rise above competing job-applicants.
- Meet new friends: Understanding Spanish will allow your child to communicate with more people and make new friends along the way.
What Are the Most Important Spanish Vocabulary Words for Beginners?
Let’s take a look at important and common Spanish words to English and phrases for kids. Best of all, these are phrases that you can immediately incorporate into daily conversation. This list of basic words in Spanish are all extremely useful to teach your child.
These simple conversation words can be used daily.
Practically every conversation starts with a greeting and ends with a goodbye. “Hola” and “adios” are typically the first words that aspiring Spanish speakers learn. Use these to greet your child and say your goodbyes, and you’ll be taking a great first step on your Spanish journey!
Por favor/Gracias (Please/Thank you)
Polite manners and gratitude are as important in Spanish as they are in any culture. Teaching your child to say “please” and “thank you” in Spanish will help them be kind to others, even while their language skills are still developing.
For extra practice, try using these words during mealtimes. You can use por favor after a request, but you can also use it at the beginning of a sentence. For example, “Por favor, escúchame” (please listen to me).
There are also many different ways to use gracias. You can use it as a stand-alone “thank you,” or with more detail: “Gracias por la ayuda” (thanks for the help).
RELATED: 5 Spanish Websites for Kids
¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)/Bien.
An essential phrase for polite conversation, you can ask your child, “¿cómo estás?” in the morning when they wake up or after school. They can reply with “bien” which means “Good”.
Me gusta/No me gusta (I like/I don’t like)
We all know how much children like to share their opinions, so it’s no wonder these are two of the most important Spanish phrases for kids out there! Your child will be eager to pick up these phrases and practice them on you. Me gusta(n) ___ literally means “___ is pleasing to me,” but in English it’s translated as, “I like.”
Because of the literal meaning, we must add the -n if the item you like is plural. Similarly, if you don’t like something, you can say, “No me gusta(n).” To help your child practice, ask them, “¿Te gusta(n) ___?” (do you like __?). They can then reply, “Sí, me gusta(n) ___,” or “No, no me gusta(n).”
Lo siento (I’m sorry)
No list of Spanish words for beginners is complete without the phrase “I’m sorry.” This expression comes in handy when one is still learning the basics of a language. It’s also very useful for when kids are playing together, or if a child needs to show sympathy and apologize.
Te quiero (I love you)
An important phrase to be able to say to your child, te quiero (I love you) is one you’ll likely use every day. Practice saying this daily in Spanish instead of English, and your child will start to do so automatically, too.
Necesito/Quiero (I need/want)
Every kid loves to express their needs and desires, and in Spanish it’s even more fun. Kids can use these words to communicate basic ideas like “quiero jugo” (I want juice) or “no necesito ayuda” (I don’t need help).
For more easy Spanish conversation words, check out this video:
When it comes to learning Spanish for kids, nothing beats a visit to the animal kingdom!
To reinforce the meaning of these simple Spanish words for beginners, you can ask questions like “¿Dónde está el gato?” (where is the cat?) if you have a furry family pet.
The best Spanish words for kids are those that stick easily, and that get your child excited about learning. If your child adores horses, then learning this vocabulary word will be easy. Learn phrases like “Amo los caballos” (I love horses).
This – and the next three – are easy for children to learn because they sound so close to their English counterparts.
Just like the word “Elefante” above, “Jirafa” sounds much like its English counterpart. It can be extremely helpful for children to practice identifying these similarities.
Everyone’s favorite big cat, León is one of those words that’s important to have handy when taking that next trip to the zoo, or reading a book about African wildlife.
No list of animal vocabulary would be complete without some underwater creatures. To practice this word, you can ask, “¿Dónde viven las ballenas?” (Where do whales live?). Psst… the correct way to answer in Spanish is “En el océano” (In the ocean).
Opposites are not only great vocabulary words for kids, but they also reinforce important concepts for young learners.
Size is omnipresent in a child’s life, from a small bug they find in the garden to a big dog they see at the park. Use these Spanish adjectives to make your descriptions more specific: “¡Qué grande el perro!” (What a big dog!)
These adjectives come in handy when describing everything from buildings to trees and animals. These adjectives’ endings will need to agree with the gender of the noun they’re describing. So “alto” (m.) will change to “alta” (f.) and “bajo” (m.) will change to “baja” (f.) when describing feminine nouns.
These adverbs come in handy to describe the way something happens. With kids, you can use both words to describe feelings: “Estoy bien” (I’m fine.)
These two simple Spanish words for kids are great for a game of “Red Light, Green Light” in Spanish or for getting kids’ attention on the street. In Spanish culture, being polite is also very important, and the words para and adelante can allow you to be courteous to others (ie. when stopping to allow someone else to go ahead).
This is a great one for adding to your family’s chore wheel, or working into conversations about washing dirty dishes.
Use the word “caliente” to warn about a hot pan on the stove or a hot day that will require a sun hat. And use the word “frío” to talk about the chilly weather in winter, or the feel of a yummy ice cream cone.
Learning to speak and communicate about feelings is important for every child. So be sure to implement phrases like “Estoy feliz” (I am happy) or “Estoy triste” (I am sad).
Foods in Spanish
Another important way to adapt Spanish for kids is to talk about food in this Romance language. Gain some understanding of Spanish food vocabulary so you can work language practice into every meal.
Colors in Spanish
Kids love to use new vocabulary words to describe colorful objects in daily life. Learning the colors in Spanish is a great way to work Spanish vocab into everyday activities.
Now that you have some Spanish vocabulary words under your belt, it’s important to find some practice strategies. We’ve outlined some top ideas below. However, if your children learn better visually, have them watch this quick tutorial and repeat the basic words and phrases.
Infographic: Spanish Words for Kids
Here is a fun image to remind you of some of the words we studied and practiced above. Save it on your phone or computer to help you memorize all of these basic Spanish words for kids in no time!
How to Teach Your Child Spanish
When you’re wondering how to teach your child Spanish, practice strategies are key. There are some easy ways to ensure your child’s language learning has a lasting impact.
The first three years of life are the most intensive for acquiring speech and language skills. However, researchers have found that children up to age 18 are in their prime for learning a second language fluently, while children 10 and under have the highest chance of achieving fluency. Start early by speaking and reading to your child in Spanish.
Keep it Playful
Humans learn best when at play. That means keeping language learning fun is key. Implement the vocabulary words above into games you already know how to play as a family (as in the red light/green light example above), or prioritize these immersive Spanish language games to get your child thinking in a second language.
Challenges are an engaging tool for helping children develop discipline and stick to a goal. Set realistic challenges that have tangible rewards. Challenges like “study for 10 minutes each day” or “learn one new Spanish word each day for one month” can be fun to tackle.
Make it Entertaining
Read Spanish language books, comics, listen to children’s music in Spanish, watch Spanish language TV shows as a family, and use multimedia resources to engage your child. Following a story in a second language can help your child understand the context of the words they’re learning.
As humans, we’re wired to learn in a social environment. Learning a language is no different. Learning together with your child is the first step. Next, find a Spanish language study group, homeschool language pod, host your own meetup, or join a Spanish language class where your child can interact with others.
Like most new skills, the more you practice Spanish with your kids, the faster they’ll learn. Build a predictable routine around your language learning. Your child should know that Wednesday night is Spanish practice night, or Saturday morning is Spanish class.
Most Importantly, Spanish Should Be Fun for Kids!
Above all, have fun introducing your child to Spanish! Use this list of Spanish words for kids to have lively, descriptive conversations whenever you want. Be sure to subscribe to our Spanish language YouTube channel for daily Spanish video lessons.
While daily learning habits are important, a Spanish teacher is critical to maximizing your child’s potential with the language. If you want to take your kid’s Spanish skills to the next level, consider signing up for Spanish lessons!
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!