The following step-by-step instructions will provide the foundation for a successful road to Spanish language acquisition. The purpose is to train parents to provide language learning opportunities for their children without spending a lot of money on private lessons or group lessons.
How to Teach Children Spanish
Step 1: Finding Appropriate Materials.
There are a variety of resources available for teaching children Spanish; however, finding the ones that are best suited for your child involves commitment and research. A great place to find inexpensive Spanish materials for elementary-aged children is a local parent-teacher or teacher resource store. Such businesses provide workbooks, posters and books that are geared for ages K-3 through high school. Prices vary but will range anywhere from $2.99 per booklet or poster to $12.99 for a workbook. If you cannot find a local teacher resource store, then go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and look in the foreign language section, where you will find an abundant supply of dictionaries, books, audio materials and workbooks. The price range can vary from $5.99 for a dictionary to well over $100 for DVDs or CD materials. If you are willing to go all out, then the DVD or CD resources are an extremely reliable option. However, if you have a smaller budget or you just want to make sure that your child is going to stick with learning the language, venture out to the local parent-teacher store or look online for free downloadable resources such as worksheets.
Step 2: Commit to a Schedule. Children will best learn material when there is a set schedule in place. There should be a specific time of day and location so that your child will feel comfortable and know what to expect. You may want to choose an earlier part of the evening, once your child has rested after his school day but before dinner, so that he is not too tired to learn. Begin with a half hour slot of time for three days a week and then gradually build to a 45 minute block of time, three days a week. Your child will become used to his language schedule if you as the parent are consistent. Even if your child does not appear to appreciate learning Spanish at the beginning, keep to your schedule and it will eventually become second nature to him and he may view it as an extension of his daily school routine!
Step 3: Make Learning Fun -- Not a Chore! Often children are not introduced to a second language until they reach junior high or high school -- a time when they are required to take a language -- and usually these students only take the minimum required number of classes. When elementary-aged students are given the opportunity to learn Spanish as an enrichment class -- one that they are not required to attend -- they often are far more enthusiastic about the language and the culture. Make learning fun so that your children will want to pursue the language more when they reach upper level grades in school. Do not simply hand your child worksheets or pictures to color, but rather use DVDs and CDs and introduce culture, such as food and music, in order to make learning the language more fun! Learning a second language can be fun, exciting, and adventurous! If you are enthusiastic about helping your child learn Spanish, your child will be too!
Step 4: Be Consistent with All Methods and Routines. The key to language acquisition is consistency -- your consistent routine and schedule as well as your child's consistent attention and work ethic. Do not expect to have your child learn anything if you constantly have to rearrange the schedule. If you are inconsistent with your teaching methods and routines, your child will feel as though learning Spanish is not an important thing but rather something that is done when there is time. Furthermore, children cannot fully learn and retain information if there is inconsistency. Make learning Spanish a priority and stick to it!
Step 5: Provide Opportunities for Practice. The last step may be hard to do if you do not live in an area where there are native Spanish speakers; however, with a bit of creative thinking, providing opportunities for your child to practice his Spanish can be accomplished. Check out local libraries for programs that involve bilingual reading. Have your child practice his Spanish with the librarian and any other children who may be there and know Spanish. If you have cable television, check out the channels for Telemundo, where your child can watch cartoons from Mexico. Also look for free programs online where your child can practice saying words after the speaker. Nickelodeon's "Dora" is a good character who will provide Spanish phrases in a native speaker's voice and give opportunity for your child to repeat. Providing opportunities for your child to practice his Spanish will also develop his enthusiasm, motivation and desire to learn the language. Children love to show off what they know!