Thursday, September 3, 2015

Can I teach my children Spanish if I don't speak it myself?

It is that time of year, guys!  School supplies, back-to-school, and yes SPANISH LESSON PLANS!! And I love it.  I am a nerd, and all summer long if I had a spare moment to do something fun for me--which did not often happen--I worked on my brother's Spanish syllabus (he is homeschooled and I am his Spanish teacher).

Lately some friends and family who have young children have asked me how they can teach their children Spanish.  First of all I just want to stop and give them a round of applause!  Seriously.  How brave and awesome is it that parents who do not speak Spanish, want to learn it alongside their children?!  What a great example to the kids, and what smart parents to introduce their children to a foreign language even if it means learning something new themselves.

Since so many people have asked about this, I decided to write some blog posts about the topic and gather the information here.  I figured, if people in my life are asking me about this, surely other people on the interwebs must be wondering too!

For starters: this will take a little extra effort on the part of the parents.  I know, I know, maybe not what you wanted to hear, right?  What parent has extra time? Ha!  Believe me (momma of 4 here!), I get ya.  But what if I promise you it would only take about 5-10 minutes on the days you want to do it?  I will try to put a little section in each post like this labeled "Note to Parents," that explains what you will be learning for that day/week.  It should only take a few minutes to read and it will help you understand on an adult/grammar level the topic or lesson.

Here is my suggestion on how you can approach learning Spanish with your kiddos at home.

First: Try to expose your family to Spanish EACH. DAY.  This means finding your favorite songs on YouTube, a good Spanish CD or Spotify playlist and turning it up once-a-day.  Maybe on your car ride home from school, maybe while you fix the kiddos lunch, or right before nap time have a little Spanish dance session.

Next: Choose one day a week to do a focused "lesson."  I use the term lesson loosely here.  Do not get overwhelmed.  I am talking super simple folks.  For example, the first "lesson" I have planned for my boys is to have them trace their hand on a piece of paper, color it, and write the phrase "Hola means hello."  Then all throughout the week...talk about what you learned in your "lesson,"  see if you can put it to practice.  When your kids wake up, wave and say "Hola!"  Or have your kids teach the lesson to their stuffed animals or grandparents.  Take a video of them using the new word or phrase (my kids love this--they love to watch themselves on camera).

Last:  Okay I cannot decide what to put here.  But mainly DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.  What you are doing for your kids is super beneficial.  I guess another good piece of advice would be MAKE IT FUN!  Kids learn best when they are playing and using every part of their brain.  Also, SET GOALS.  No one gets anywhere without a plan first.  If I were you I would set a simple goal like "Learn 30 Spanish words for things (sticking to nouns is a good concrete place to start) and 3 Spanish phrases."  Finally, I don't want to leave you without explaining one more tip: THINK LIKE A BABY.  Your kids don't need this advice, but you do.  As an adult, learning a new language is going to make you feel awkward.  DON'T PANIC.  Just remember "think like a baby."  Does a baby worry about mispronouncing words?  No.  Does a baby let fear of making a mistake keep them from trying to talk and communicate with the world around them?  No.  Does a baby give up if talking is "too hard"?  No.  Does a baby ever lose her curiosity?  No.  Does a baby start by speaking in sentences?  No.  So learn from the babies of the world and just be excited!  Be curious!  Keep trying!  Start by learning a few words and build from there.

To keep from making this the LONGEST. BLOG. POST. EVER. I am going to write further posts with play list suggestions, resources, and lesson plan ideas.  I'll link up to them here as I add them.

Buena suerte, people!

Next in this series...
When You Read You Begin with ABC 
Teach My Child Spanish: Week One

4 comments:

  1. Amiga, you're back!!! Missed your posts, and I love this one. Some monolingual friends have asked, and now I can share this with them. :)

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    1. Yay! It's a trickier road than being a native speaker...but I think it can be done! Obviously resources have to be sought out to gain fluency...but I believe any parent can give their kids a start in learning a foreign language!

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  2. Thank you so much. I am officially following your blog post!

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    1. Awesome!! I hope this info helps! I welcome any feedback or ideas you might have that would help in your family's Spanish-learning journey. :)

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