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By:  Daphne Cain

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Learning Spanish is Child's Play: Easy ways to introduce Spanish to your child

Introducing Spanish to your child can be a rewarding experience. It is important to allow children to learn at their own pace. It is never too early to expose your child to a second or foreign language. It will not confuse your child. In the long run studies show that children who learn foreign languages perform very well on aptitude tests and college entrance exams. Whatever your goals for your child are, making Spanish fun and a small part of daily activities is all you need to get started.

Children acquire language skills in phases. The first phase is the imitation of sounds. Once the sounds are mastered they can effectively string together sounds to make words. Next, simple sentences are formed. Spending time immersing your child in the language will allow for the development of these skills.

The following are 5 simple ways to foster language development in Spanish:

 

  1. Use simple nursery rhymes in Spanish to introduce the rhythm and flow of the language. Repetitive rhymes will engage children and allow them to  practice the pronunciation. Focus on the repetition primarily. It is  important to explain what the rhymes mean eventually. Showing rather than telling the English words can speed vocabulary acquisition, but each child will respond differently to different methods.
  2. Sing simple songs and use call and response activities. Music helps children feel surrounded by the language. They can confidently use the  vocabulary and have fun. Basic vocabulary and conversational phrases may be introduced by singing. There are many sing-a-long cassettes and compact discs available with songbooks with English translations.
  3. Use body language in songs, stories, and in everyday activities. Finger plays, skits, demonstrative games, and simple choreography to songs taps into the kinetic learning style. "Simon Says", "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes", and "Where is Thumbkin" are all translated and used in elementary Spanish classes.
  4. Name objects. Have children name common objects and describe their attributes. Identify body parts through touching in active songs, rhymes, and games. Cut out and label pictures of objects from magazines. Create theme boxes according to vocabulary.
  5. Vary the ways you introduce new vocabulary. Read bilingual stories. Take field trips. Make flashcards and posters. Create lotto games. Utilize various sites on the Internet. Invest in software or audiocassettes.

 

The following resources will help you introduce Spanish to your child through songs and play:

 

  • Jumpstart Languages -Knowledge Adventure
  • Musical Spanish (includes CD-ROM)- Stacey Tipton
  • Colección del Recuerdo Infantil- Cri-Cri y Compañia Infantil Televicentro
  • Diez Deditos- José Luis Orozco
  • De Colores- José Luis Orozco
  • Los Pollitos Dicen -Nancy Abraham Hall and Jill Syverson-Stork
  • Let's Learn Spanish Picture Dictionary- Marlene Goodman

 

Spanish proficiency is not necessary to expose your children to the language. Learning along with your child can enhance the learning process and provide quality time together. The time you spend practicing Spanish with your child will vary according to your availability. Even ten minutes a day will provide a wealth of exposure. Children absorb information easily and will learn quickly. Do not become frustrated if your child does not catch on all the time. Patience, fun, and resources will be the three keys to learning success in Spanish.

 

 

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