Are you a parent interested in teaching Spanish to your kids? You’ve made a big — but fantastic — decision!
Studies have shown the benefits of being bilingual in today’s society; not only will you be making an impact on your child’s communication skills and cognitive abilities, raising your child bilingual will help set him or her up for success later on in life.
Teaching Spanish to kids is easy if you speak the language yourself, but where do you start if you don’t already speak it? It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn Spanish at the same time as your kids (benefiting you both), but you’ll need to find the right resources to do so. And if you’re on a budget? You might think it will be even harder — after all, Spanish-learning software can be expensive… and weekly tutoring lessons might be too much of a commitment if you’re not sure you’ll stick with it.
Luckily, thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to teach a new language to your kids and yourself at the same time. To get a jump on bilingualism, hone your language skills with the following helpful resources.
Spanish Learning Apps
There are so many apps to learn Spanish available these days — and many of them are completely free. These apps can provide a great introduction to the language, and many of them have games that are fun for kids and adults alike. Here are some of our favorites:
If you don’t have the money for Spanish textbooks, phrase books, and flashcards, don’t worry. All of the same instructional benefits are available for free from Wikibooks, an open-source Wikimedia project designed to extend educational material to anyone willing to learn it. The website’s Spanish section starts off with basic conversation and grammar lessons, which gradually increase in complexity over time. Spend an hour a day on Wikibooks lessons and you and your child will master basic Spanish conversations in no time.
Spanish Learning Websites
There are tons of fantastic websites that offer easy-to-follow lessons on vocabulary, grammar, and more. We love FluentU; with your free account, you’ll get limited access to Spanish videos and clips, along with subtitles to help you learn how vocabulary and phrases come together in real-world contexts. Paid accounts for unlimited watching and listening start at $8/month.
SpanishDict is another great website for teaching Spanish to kids, with more of a focus on vocabulary and grammar. The interactive flashcards make it fun to learn the words for colors, clothing, numbers, and more!
Finally, Spanish Playground is fantastic for kids who want a variety of activities — here you can find ideas for games and crafts, plus printable worksheets, videos, jokes, and much more!
Online Spanish Learning Games
After you’ve done some studying, it’s time to take a break and play some games! Educational games and activities are wonderful for reiterating and reviewing what you’ve learned. An awesome website to bookmark is Digital Dialects, which is full of fun, easy-to-play games that teach Spanish grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills. The games cover a wide range of topics, including greetings, colors, numbers, foods, units of time, animals, and clothing. The website also offers vocab lists and conjugation breakdowns to help children without prior Spanish experience.
For a fun activity, hold contests with your kids to see who can win the most games. The more fun you have, the less of a chore studying will be and the quicker you’ll pick up the language!
When you’ve gotten the hang of reading Spanish, it’s time to start learning how to recognize the spoken language. ¡Hola Viajeros! provides a series of free audiobooks in slow Spanish along with transcripts. By listening to the audio while reading the transcripts, you and your children will quickly learn Spanish pronunciations, inflections, and other nuances. Best of all, these audiobooks are mostly devoted to describing Spanish-speaking countries, customs, and books, allowing you to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures as you learn the language.
Once you’ve listened to all of ¡Hola Viajeros!’s audiobooks, it’s time to move on to faster-paced Spanish audio. YouTube is great for this, providing a wide range of music videos, TV shows, and movies from Spanish-speaking countries. By watching YouTube videos in Spanish, you’ll get a sense of how the language is spoken in practice. You can also find a ton of fun, silly songs for teaching Spanish that kids love!
Another great idea is to find songs from the Spanish-language versions of Disney musicals. Your kids likely know the English lyrics to many of these songs by heart, so they’ll already understand the gist of what the characters are singing about; this will make it easier to break down the meanings of the Spanish lyrics. As an example, here’s the Spanish version of “Let it Go” from Frozen:
Once your kids can understand Spanish-language Disney songs without too much trouble, move on to watching films, TV shows, and vloggers. You should have no trouble finding age-appropriate videos for teaching Spanish to kids.
So… Now What?
When you are ready to invest in your or your child’s language mastery, make sure you’re spending your money wisely — by hiring a qualified Spanish tutor! As effective as these resources can be, there’s no substitute for working one-on-one with a teacher who can cater lessons to your specific learning style, and catch pronunciation mistakes that you might be overlooking. After all, these apps and website are all missing one crucial element: actual communication with other Spanish speakers!
If you’re serious about guiding your child toward bilingualism — or securing your own fluency — a tutor will help you get there. The money you spend on Spanish lessons is well worth the cost, as most experienced polyglots agree. And in between your lessons? Take advantage of all these free resources for teaching Spanish to kids, and everybody wins — that’s what they’re there for!
Ready to get started? Search for a tutor here!
Photo by Jessica Lucia