Today I joined a group of Spanish speaking moms who discussed with sadness in their tone how difficult it is to get the children to speak Spanish even at home in an English speaking country. During our time, it was agreed that children don’t want to speak Spanish, even when they know the language.
Living in different parts of the country, I have experienced this, too. Many of my bilingual friends across the country have experienced this as well.
There is nothing more gratifying than passing on our heritage language or our native language to our children.
The gift of language is the gift of a lifetime.
There is no return policy on it.
So why does this happen?
First of all, we live in an area where everything is in English. Schools, friends get-togethers, story time, books…everything is English.
It is our nature to produce (output) the language we hear (input) the most. There it is natural for our brain to produce what is more used to.
Therefore, why should the child speak Spanish?
There needs to be a clear need to use the target language, Spanish in this case.
That’s right. There needs to be a real need as to why speak in Spanish (or the minority language).
6 Ways to Create a Need to Speak in Spanish (or the Target Language):
Participate in a Spanish Story Time program at the library.
Check with your library if they have story time in your target language where there is a read-aloud, some songs, and a craft.
Take advantage of technology and call family that only speak Spanish.
Use your Saturday afternoon to call family and use your webcam. This is a great time for sharing stories, recipes you have cooked this week, tell a joke or two! Show your pets, etc. Use this time to talk with family in Spanish. Maybe they have never met in person, but thanks to technology, they get to see each other through the webcam.
If you have toddlers learning to talk, have a playgroup where moms and children participate together using Spanish.
This is a great time to teach and learn to speak Spanish in an authentic way through play. Pretend to be doctors, cooks, and play in Spanish. So much language can be learned through play!!!
If you are homeschooling, do memory work in Spanish.
Every week we work on memorizing a new Bible verse and sometimes a poem, in addition to Spanish songs we learn every month. Instead of memorizing in English, which they probably will one way or another, use this time to learn them in Spanish. It will build their confidence! You can also write out the verse, talk about the meaning and vocabulary in Spanish. Much will be learned by memorizing a short verse.
Find a local church in Spanish where children could attend Sunday School in the target language.
Participating in a Spanish speaking environment with other teachers and children could be very beneficial. It would show them that there are many others out there who also speak Spanish. They could see the same activities they do at home or in school can be done in Spanish.
If you have older children, have them do peer tutoring.
Think of foreign students just arriving to the US who need help learning English. They may need a lot of help studying math or science when their vocabulary is limited. Have your child help them in their native language to become more comfortable with school work. There are many advantages of learning subjects in the native language even while learning a second language.
What ideas do you have to create a need for children to speak in Spanish?
As we raise our bilingual children, I have started to make note of the books we read and the things we have done along the way to help teach them Spanish as naturally as possible. One of these has been reading to them from a very young age, the womb. We read books in Spanish, bilingual books, or books in Spanish. The following books are all very special with the goal of sharing sweet little stories to create a connection with the Spanish language. I hope you enjoy this list just as much as we have. As the kids grow, these will become little treasures that will remind you of those times when your kids were so very little and were just beginning to learn the language.
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- You are my I Love You – Tú eres mi yo te quiero Easily readable English and Spanish side-by-side text.
- Besos for Baby – A Little Book of Kisses: Uses simple Spanish words to teach the Spanish language through love.
- La noche en que tu naciste – On The Night You Were Born: An account of the very special night the baby was born…
- I like it When…-Me gusta cuando: Great for teaching how to say I like this, I like that and using examples to explain why.
- This Little Piggy – Este Cochinito: This is a classic nursery rhyme in both English and Spanish.
- Pio – Peep!: A collection of traditional nursery rhymes. *Must* have, start reading nursery rhymes in Spanish from an early age to build literacy skills in Spanish.
- Siempre te querré: An absolute favorite in Spanish. We LOVE this book, my children prefer it in Spanish.
- I Love You Through and Through – Te quiero, yo te quiero:
- Te amo, te abrazo, leo contigo – I Love You, Hug You, Read to You: The three things the reader promises to do.
- Huggy, Kissy – Abrazos y besitos: So cute!!! Your child will love this one!
What books do you like to read in Spanish with your younger ones?
Cuéntame, tell me in the comments below!
Las Manitos is a very short nursery rhyme or canción de cuna that is learned quickly. It has very short sentences and the motions that go along make it really fun to sing along to.
Children from age 12 months or even younger may be able to do the motions along the song.
Letra Las Manitos Canción de Cuna – Nursery Rhyme Lyrics:
Las manitos, las manitos,
Ellas están aquí,
Ellas están aquí,
Y se van.
Y se van.
This is a favorite nursery rhyme!
Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina Popular Songs and Rhymes From Latin America (English and Spanish Edition)Muu, Moo!: Rimas de animales/Animal Nursery Rhymes (Spanish Edition)Diez Deditos and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America (Spanish Edition)This Little Piggy/Este Cochinito (Dual Language Baby Board Books- English/Spanish) (Spanish Edition)
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Every year around Valentine’s Day the kids and I like to read some really sweet picture books in Spanish about love. Some we have read since they were babies, others we have added during the toddler years. Still each one holds a special memory, especially Siempre Te Querré, just so beautiful.
Hope you enjoy this list!
Hasta la próxima,
Best Picture Books in Spanish About LOVE
Pero cuando llegaba la noche, ella le decía:
“Por siempre te amaré, por siempre te querré.
Mientras en mi haya vida, siempre serás mi bebé.”
Siempre te querré: We absolutely love this book. We can read it over and over and it just doesn’t get old. I love the repetition which builds vocabulary. It is also available in English. My kids prefer to hear this one in Spanish.
I Love You Through and Through / Te quiero, yo te quiero: This is a rhyming story about a child and the bear. It has some lovely rhymes. This one is one of my favorites because it is a bilingual edition.
Adivina cuanto te quiero: This book is just pure sweetness and tenderness. Muy tierno. Definitely a favorite for bedtime stories.
Te quiero más: My daughter and I read this book every day for at least 3 years. She really enjoyed this story. Simply written, very beautiful.
More Spanish Picture Books about Love for children:
Te quiero tanto… (Spanish Edition)
How Do I Love You? / ¿Cómo te quiero? (Spanish and English Edition)
When we brought our first bundle of joy home, my natural mami instinct was to sing nursery rhymes to my baby. I remember learning these songs from a young age, next to my Mamá and my Abuelita. These songs brought many smiles to our faces when we would take turns singing them or when we would sing them along a tape I used to have.
Throughout the years I have been teaching these nursery rhymes to my children to expose them to Spanish. Below you can find 4 benefits that I believe have helped them learn Spanish through music.
Use Nursery Rhymes to Teach Spanish
Benefits of using Nursery Rhymes to Teach Spanish or Any Language
- Music is catchy! – It is easy to learn a new language when we can learn to say new words and sentences in a quickly manner. It builds confidence! We want our children to build confidence with their language skills and this is exactly what nursery rhymes do. Due to the catchy tunes, we often catch our children repeating the same songs which in turn helps them build language skills.
- Benefits the Brain – Many of these songs contain repetitive lines which helps to teach how language works in our brains. It helps make the connection of how words are put together to form sentences with agreeing verbal tenses and articles. In other words, it helps to teach grammar in a natural way.
- Shares tradition – In this case, it is all about passing language and sharing cultural traditions. In other words, these nursery rhymes were sung by me, my mama, grandmother, and great-grandmother. These songs are passed from one-generation to another. Usually before singing a nursery rhyme, I often share a story that goes along with the song. For example: “I remember one time my Abuelita was singing this song to me when I was little girl.” Or “my uncle always sang Arroz con Leche to me when we took a walk together.” These memories are associated to these songs which in turn creates an emotional bond to the language used in sharing the memory and the nursery rhyme.
- Social Activity – We like to sing nursery rhymes as a group and we like to do the motions together. There are times when I find my children taking the lead on singing a nursery rhyme like Las Manitos and teaching another child how to do the hand motions for it.
Spanish Nursery Rhymes:
- Las Manitos
- Cucú Cantaba la Rana
- Los Pollitos Dicen
- Un Elefante
- Arroz con Leche
- Caballito Blanco
- Corre el Anillo
- Tengo una Muñeca Vestida de Azul
- Que Llueva, Que Llueva
In a separate post I will include the lyrics and a video/activity that will go along with each song to teach Spanish. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you will find it very easy and catchy to learn these nursery rhymes along with your children.
What is your favorite Spanish Nursery Rhyme? Share in the comments!
Enjoy! Music is a great way to learn a new language!
One of the main reasons I homeschool is so that we can teach our children Spanish. We want them to learn Spanish as well as develop fluency in the language. It is imperative for us that they learn it and they get to hear it on a daily basis. Besides family and us, we have to make sure to include it during our day too. This is why I use YouTube for teaching Spanish, it exposes them to authentic use of the language and creates opportunities for us to discuss games and traditions and memories from our early years with them that could be related to one of the songs or stories we show them from YouTube.
I have picked most videos based on songs that I remember from my childhood. Many times, I’ll share something I remember about it and then show them the video. Children can pick up songs so easily, they’ll be humming and repeating the words in no time. For example, the song Cucu Cantaba la Rana used to come in a happy birthday cassette my mom had for me. Or Topo Gigio’s songs which I used to listen to before going to sleep in my early childhood and now one of my kids loves.
Most videos are short about 3 minutes or so. I pick songs that are fun, catchy, or that sound cute. Any song that gets them to move around and dance like Chuchua by Piñon Fijo also becomes a keeper. If they have a question about a word, we pause the video to tell them the word if needed.
Because I tend to choose songs, most videos will contain repetitive vocabulary which will ease the process of learning the language. I find that the videos by A Tiempo Preescolar have the most repetitive and predictable vocabulary that comes up through the different songs, games, and stories.
Below are my preferred YouTube channels for teaching Spanish:
- A Tiempo Preescolar: This is a Chilean channel with a lot of catchy songs, stories, and games for the children to play. My children really enjoy Perro Chocolo’s songs and Josefina’s stories. Definitely check out this channel. This is currently our favorite channel!
- Luna Creciente: I use this channel mainly to watch videos of the Mono Silabo, a puppet that teaches how to read in Spanish. If you are in the begining stages of reading or want to reinforce some syllables, check this out.
- Once Niños: Mexican channel with different series such as Monstruario where the children talk and give a description of the monster. Each description comes accompanied with an image. This would be a fun series to watch. Perhaps, have your children draw monsters first; or have them hear the descriptions, pause the video, and have them draw what the description they just heard.
- Biper y sus Amigos: This channel has the most contagious songs for children in Spanish. We love all of them, especially Mami, Los Abuelos, Lavarse los Dientes, and several more. These songs will make learning new vocabulary a breeze! All their songs are also available through Amazon.
- El Reino Infantil: This channel has some cute songs for preschoolers like La Araña Chiquitita or La Lombriz.
- Cuentacuentos Beatriz Montero: This channel has riddles and classic stories told by Beatriz Montero. She is well known in Spain for her storytelling skills.
My children are really into cooking, these are some of the channels we have watched to learn to cook while hearing Spanish.
- Mis Pastelitos: Great way to expand vocabulary on giving directions, imperative tense, and food vocabulary. The recipes look so yummy too!
- Quiero Cupcakes: More recipes to make oh-so-yummy desserts and learn Spanish along the way!
Cuentame: What are your favorite YouTube channels for teaching Spanish to your children? Let me know in the comments.
If you found this post useful, let your friends know about it and send them this way so they can also teach Spanish to their children.