Wednesday, February 19, 2014

10 Ways to Improve your Child's Spanish Vocabulary at Home

It is no secret that raising bilingual children is not easy. Although here at Mommy Maestra, some of us are first, second (or more!) generation American, we happen to have bilingual kids! Lately, as my 21 month-old is starting to speak and as my seven year-old is using scientific words in English that I have no idea how to translate, my frantic Google search is often a reminder to seguir adelante with my efforts to continue to teach Spanish to my three boys. Their English is fantastic and I want them to feel just as confident when speaking Spanish. 
Here are 10 tips I want to share to help you improve your child's Spanish vocabulary without you having to leave your home:
1) Speak:  Habla, habla, habla. Even if your family spends the majority of the day speaking English, be conscious of it and switch over to Spanish whenever you can or when it feels right. For me, getting my boys' attention, transitioning from one activity to another, or when snuggling with them, calls for el español!
2) Read: Of all the books we own, about 40 percent of them are in Spanish. The boys love for me to read to them and when they reach for a book, they don't see or hear language. They pick a book because they love it and the more they hear the ones in Spanish, the better for their vocabulary. Check out Latina for Latino Lit for great titles!
3) Call/Skype/Facetime with family: Whether you live close to family or not, try to have your children speak to family members with whom you only speak Spanish. My boys know that their Tita will not speak English to them and I don't mind if their Spanish is not perfect because they have no other way to communicate. No one laughs or corrects when they make mistakes. Family will support your child's bilingual journey.
4) Apps: I don't know how many times a day my boys ask for my mobile phone or papi's iPad. It's okay to bargain with them. Half the time I say, "only if you go on a Spanish app." It works! Click HERE for five of Mommy Maestra's picks.
5) TV: Just like the app rule, we negotiate the TV's language. My husband and I record shows the boys like that just happen to be on the Spanish-language networks. The other day, our oldest went around saying, "es muy complicado," because the phrase was introduced in Pocoyo.
6) Games: We recently reviewed eeBoo's Spanish Bingo because it has been a hit in my Spanish enrichment program at my son's school and here at home. Simple vocabulary games like Lotería, Zingo and Scrabble are great vocabulary builders too and so much fun!
7) Play dates: Invite your Spanish-speaking acquaintances and friends over for a play date. We don't live in Latino community but when we find other Spanish-speaking families, we automatically click! Having your children see and hear kids who have similar backgrounds eases them into practicing Spanish and helps them build their confidence.
8) Music: Dance party, anyone? Crank up your favorite Latino tunes for your babies. Music is a huge part of culture and when a household plays Spanish music, be ready to hear little voices singing and bodies shaking!
9) Text/Email: If you have a child who is already writing,  you will find that you may not get your kiddies to really appreciate traditional writing on paper or workbooks. Although, I have my oldest practice Spanish in that way, we try to mix things up with a little bit of fun with my smart phone or computer.  
10) Talk about the world: Having your children understand that there are thousands of languages that are being spoken daily says so much about Spanish being the second most spoken language in the world! Why not give it a little extra effort? That fact alone has motivated me some more. Adelante!

How do you help improve your child's Spanish vocab? Please share! 


Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over
at My Friend Betty Says... She is a teacher and mother to three fun little boys.


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