Jan 11

Learning a New Language in 2015

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

It's a New Year! You may have "Learn a Language" as a goal for 2015, for your child or you. Perhaps you are looking for an educational "edge" for your preschooler. Perhaps you are preparing for a trip for pleasure abroad, or to see relatives overseas.

fireworks spelling 2015

Stages of Language Acquisition
(Not quite "The 12 Steps")

There is a well-known program that discusses the "12-Step Plan." This is not it! When your child (or you) begin the process of learning a new language, I would humbly argue that there is a certain—predictable—road or journey that your child will encounter as s/he picks up words that lead to comprehension and ultimately, fluency. We agree, that is the golden apple. There are some variations to this list; it is, granted, mostly personal, but based on at least a decade's worth of observation. What do you think? Agree, disagree, or demur? Think back to the days that you learned a language.

  1. Denial
  2. Shock/Incomprehension
  3. Anger
    "I will not go!"
  4. Understanding a few words in isolation
    (aka the "Silent" or "Quiet" Period, as there is no language output...yet!)
  5. Understanding a few phrases
  6. Speaking a bit
  7. Speaking a bit... more
  8. Feeling comfortable speaking
  9. Writing begins/progresses
    Depending on age (roughly over 5 years old). Reading and writing are often seen as less immediate goals compared to understanding and speaking.
  10. Watch out for the possibility of rebellion
    Particularly at a break in time or crossroads. If this red-eyed monster rears its head, family support is KEY. If none occurs, perhaps a new-found inspiration will be exhibited, with growing self-confidence.
  11. Deciphering musical lyrics
  12. Understanding jokes, puns, etc.
  13. FLUENCY!
    ...and then...maintaining it

The "Take Away" Message

When your child begins to study a new language, you cannot be "wishy washy." You must be consistent and not veer off the path. There are definite stages to language acquisition; eventually your child will learn it and thank you. You cannot waiver; your children will instantly pick up on that and will rebel, because you have shown a weakness. If you start & stop, you cannot expect your child to be fluent.

This is the reason that Jump! Immersion is invested in your child's learning and offers programs for Mandarin and programs for Spanish for children 2½ to 12 years of age.

Can't fit it in during the school year? Consider our Skype tutoring for older children or "talk up" our unique Spanish and Mandarin Summer Camp Programs—no passport necessary to overseas adventure!

Dec 23

Last Minute Holiday Shopping? Children's Magazines in Spanish!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

Although we all have our moments of trying to "Keep Up with the Joneses" in this materialistic society, how about this idea for holiday gifts? (Remember, we have Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and...depending on your background, Three Kings Day.) While browsing at the local Barnes & Noble, I came across two children's magazines in Spanish. What a surprise! Check out:

Iguana, Revista para Niños, ¡Lee - Descubre - Disfruta!
("Read - Discover - Enjoy")

From their website  they say that this magazine is geared towards children aged 7-12 that "grew up speaking Spanish" (my translation: are rather proficient). They add that topics range from history, geography, science, technology, language arts to math. Prices vary, depending if you request print, digital or both. About $18-51 dollars.

Iguana, Revista para Niños, magazine adybug en Español magazine

Ladybug en Español

Another children's magazine, for the younger set, from the same company. From their website they say that this magazine is geared towards 3-6 year olds.


These magazines are being discontinued in January 2015, so if you are interested, look for them at the local B&N before they sell out!

Dec 19

Passing My Culture to My Children: Three Kings Day

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

My family grew up in Cuba; I grew up in South Florida and struggled to maintain my Spanish. Now, with my own children, one of my most fervent wishes is to pass my Spanish language and culture to my children.

One such idea is Three Kings Day. In the Christian tradition, this is the day that the Three Wise Men (a.k.a. the "Magi") arrived to see the baby Jesus. This coincides with Epiphany, the Christian feast day, which is on January 6th.

In Cuba, in the 1940s, Three Kings Day was the day that children received all of their presents. Christmas was not really celebrated with gifts, and Christmas Eve (or "Noche Buena" was celebrated with a big feast with family and friends). The tradition is that children would put some grass (or in northern New Jersey climates, some dry grass or twigs/leaves, nothing fancy here) in a shoe box under their beds. The grass was for the camels to eat, that carried the Wise Men.

free coloring page

Trivia: What are the names of the Wise Men? Answer: Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.
They are the ones that bring the gifts to the children.

How this plays out in our home:

In our house, the "Wise Men" bring a few token gifts, e.g. a book, a shirt, a DVD, to the little ones. In the days leading up to January 6th, we may even entertain a stick puppet "play" about the Wise Men as an indoor, creative activity, or ask the children to write a letter or color a picture for the Wise Men (sneaky writing practice). This tradition is a win-win scenario: the kids get a few more little gifts (perhaps use the post holiday sales or go to the local discount store) and I receive the immense satisfaction that our cultural heritage is practiced, enjoyed and is perceived as "cool" by the children...

Download Full-size Coloring Page

Oct 23

Four Resources to Help Your Children Learn Spanish

Studies have shown that kids who are learning a second language perform better when they can regularly practice. But if you don’t know Spanish yourself, how are you supposed to help your child?

Even if the only Spanish word you know is ola, there are a number of ways to help boost and support your child’s second language learning. Here are just a few.

Gus on the Go

The Gus on the Goapp is an interactive Spanish app where kids get to follow Gus the owl as he travels around the globe. Children learn basic vocabulary food and animal words along with shapes and colors. The vocabulary games reinforce learning with its games and lesson reviews. It’s a fun, multi-sensory app that can used on any iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Children are engaged with colorful animations and sounds. The Gus on the Go app also provides positive reinforcement with its winning trophies for achievements.


Kid’s Spanish

Another great app for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners is the Kid’s Spanishapp by Serendipity. It’s easy to navigate and provides dynamic activities to keep children entertained while they learn basic Spanish words. With fun characters and great sound effects, children don’t lose interest. This app provides learning in a sequential manner. When a picture is touched, the word is revealed and the word is spoken. Children learn a variety of Spanish words in categories, such as colors, shapes, animals and numbers.



Georgia Public Broadcasting’s SalsaTV show is a fun way for your kids to watch and listen to Spanish. Episodes like “The Pig Who Cried Bandit” and “Caperucita Roja (Little Red Riding Hood)” tell stories in Spanish that capture the imagination of children. These episodes use a live field production, colorful animation and charming puppets to engage children in learning.


123 Teach Me

There are many websites that can help your kids learn Spanish, but for a good start try 123Teachme.com. You’ll find a wealth of resources for kids learning Spanish, games, worksheets, videos, short stories and flash cards. As a matter of fact, 123 Teach Me contains over 12,000 pages of Spanish resources for learning and to appreciate the richness of the Spanish culture.


No matter whether your kids want to play with an app, watch a TV show or use a website, remember to keep things fun. There are many more resources available, but it’s important that you find one your children enjoy. They won’t even know they’re learning!

Oct 16

Three Reasons Kids Resist Learning a Second Language

Children are curious creatures by nature, and at their most fundamental early years their minds are little sponges just waiting to be filled with knowledge.

However, when it comes to learning a second language like Spanish, kids can sometimes become defiant.

Here are three key reasons why youngsters may be hesitant to learn a valuable second language.

1. They Begin Taking Classes Too Late

Research indicates that children ages 5 and under have tremendous language learning capacity and can learn and develop new languages more naturally than adults. However, as children grow up, they get ‘busy’ with their own interests, start to feel increased pressure in school, and become more self-conscious.

The good news is you can start your child in Spanish classes at Salta as early as 18 months old, and help build their language abilities whether you speak Spanish or not.

There are additional benefits to learning a second language early — it promotes better reading skills, fosters creativity, and can boost their test scores down the road.

2. The Teacher is Not a Native Speaker of the Language

The bilingual teachers at Salta are all native speakers, and this benefits your child’s Spanish language learning experience in a number of ways.

Using the Think-in-Spanish Method, Salta’s native speaking instructors are able to help kids learn and retain the language rather than merely memorizing words. By learning from native speakers, students are more likely to utilize authentic pronunciation when speaking Spanish.

Our instructors keep children focused on using Spanish instead of English at various times throughout the day. While non-native speakers may unintentionally switch between languages and get students off track, native instructors are more regimented when encouraging Spanish use.

3. Sporadic Classes Make Learning Harder for Kids

Kids rely on regularity and routine, and primarily gain knowledge and retention through repetition. Learning a second language is no exception. Salta’s instructors understand how to bring fun into the learning process and engage students who attend classes regularly.

While some Spanish instruction schools may only offer classes once or twice a week, Salta students can participate in classes up to five days each week in the preschool and kindergarten programs. This consistency in hearing and embracing Spanish propels their educational experience while keeping learning exciting and fresh.

Experience the Salta Difference

Diversity is important part of today’s world, and you want your child to have every advantage possible in succeeding within it. If you’d like to discover the Salta difference and see why our students look forward to learning every day, contact us for a free lesson.

Oct 01

What Not to Do When Your Children Are Learning Spanish

Learning Spanish is a great opportunity for your children, but it does present some challenges and it can be a slow process.

It’s important for you, as a parent, to understand what you should and shouldn’t do in order to help your children love the language. In general, you should be patient and, if you can, practice with your children to help them become comfortable.

But there are also things you shouldn’t do. Here are four.

Don’t Pressure Them to Speak in Front of Others

If your children aren’t comfortable speaking Spanish, don’t pressure them to do so in front of relatives or family friends. Being in the spotlight can put kids under a considerable amount of stress, especially if they’re typically nervous or self-conscious around others. Besides — asking them to recite words rarely gives kids a good chance to demonstrate what they’ve learned, anyway. Instead, it might make them less confident about their ability to speak Spanish, which will interfere with the learning process.

Don’t Speak English When It’s Time to Practice Spanish

One of the best ways for your children to learn Spanish is by practicing it regularly. Whether they’re engaging in conversation, practicing certain words or phrases, or simply playing a Spanish game online, it’s crucial to set English aside during practice time and switch exclusively to Spanish. Speaking only Spanish during this time helps your children slowly become more fluent in the language and more accustomed to using it.

Don’t Forget That Learning Should Be Fun

Having your children go over a list of words or repeat the same sentences in Spanish can get boring for them — fast. In order to encourage them to learn Spanish, make the learning process a fun one.

Put the list away, and turn on some Spanish songs for them to sing along with and dance to, or come up with short skits that they can act out entirely in Spanish. A fun approach to learning can help your children become more eager to practice what they’ve learned.

Don’t Challenge Your Kids Too Much

While it’s important to encourage your children to put their Spanish speaking skills to use, don’t go overboard. Keep in mind that kids need time to learn new skills at their own pace, so keep challenges within reason. For example, try to be happy that they’re reading books in Spanish, even if those books would be well below their reading level in English.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that you help your children learn Spanish, rather than come to avoid it.

Sep 23

Want to keep your child excited about learning Spanish? Check out these 4 things they wish you knew.

Most kids are excited about learning Spanish — that is, until you treat second-language learning like every other subject they’ve grown tired of in school.

Here are four things your kids wish you knew about learning Spanish that will keep their excitement alive.

Patience and Positive Reinforcement Are Important

Think about how long it took your child to speak English fluently. Be patient and let your child learn Spanish at his or her own speed. Getting frustrated with your child will only slow down the learning process.

Remember the excitement you felt when your child learned new English words and began speaking in sentences? Let your child see that same excitement as they learn Spanish. Praise them or give them small rewards for learning the language.

Your Child May Already Know More Spanish Than You Realize

Don't be surprised if you realize your child knows more Spanish than he or she is letting on.

Why would your child hold back? Fear of making a mistake can be a powerful de-motivator. Encourage your child to stretch and show off his or her skills. Let your child know that it's okay to mess up — that mistakes are how we learn. When it does happen (and it will — often), try to be positive and supportive.

Give Your Child Incentives to Watch Spanish TV or Read Spanish Books

Your child learned to speak English because he or she was immersed in the language and soaked it up like a sponge. Chances are that your child learning Spanish doesn't have the same advantage.

To learn to speak Spanish fluently, your child needs more exposure to the language. Think of small rewards you can provide for watching Spanish-language television shows or reading children's books written in Spanish. Over time your child will begin to understand more and more words spoken on TV or be able to read without your help.

Kids Just Want to Have Fun

Learning Spanish should be fun. Your child should think it's cool that he or she is learning another language. Combine games with learning. For example, try playing Hangman with Spanish words instead of English words.

Here’s the bottom line: if you make Spanish fun to learn, your child will look forward to his or her lessons. Keeping this — and the other tips in this article — in mind will go a long way toward fostering your child’s love of the language.

Jul 10

Make Sure Your Child's Spanish Lessons "Stick" With this Easy Tip

Teaching your child Spanish is one of the best things you can do for him or her. However, some parents find that motivating a child to practice Spanish is difficult.

A variety of factors contribute to boosting motivation, but one of them is, simply, ensuring the child practices enough to retain his or her new language skills. How can you make Spanish education fun so that your child is willing to practice?

How About...a Tent?

It may sound a little out of the ordinary, but here at Salta we recommend a method that works very well: set up a tent.

The tent doesn’t have to be large or anything special — a $30 pup tent from Wal-Mart is all you need. Even blankets draped over the backs of some dining room chairs will do.

The important part is that you create a special location that's "fun." This could be in your backyard, in the living room, or in the rec room. The goal is to create a location where, once the child steps into the tent, he or she feels excitement.

Here’s the trick that helps reinforce your child’s second language: you need to spend at least 30 minutes a day in the tent, and when you’re in there your child can only speak Spanish.

You may wish to consider it a type of game. Perhaps the tent "transports" you to a Spanish-speaking country — and the only way to communicate with each other is through this new language.

Decorate the tent to include Spanish-themed clothing or accessories. Use lots of color. You might even bring along a flashlight and music cd’s in Spanish to make it even more fun.

However, once your child understands the Spanish-only rule, it's time to practice. Don’t worry about what you talk about… As long as you do so in Spanish, there are no rules to Incorporate Your Child’s Lesson Plan

Before you get into the tent, review your child’s lesson plan for the day. Once inside, go over it together. Work on the language together if you are both learning. Salta's Leap program is very thorough and offers vocabulary words to follow if you yourself are learning Spanish. You can easily follow along.

Most importantly, make sure the activity is fun for both of you. It should not be a punishment to practice in this way.

Trust Us...the Tent Works

As your child learns to speak Spanish in the tent, he or she will become more comfortable with this process. This is positive reinforcement at its best. What's important here is not just that he or she is practicing Spanish, but that the child is getting — and enjoying — the one-on-one time he or she needs with you. Most children crave this.

By using that one-on-one enjoyment, you'll have no problem encouraging your child to speak Spanish.

Jun 30

4 Ways to Reinforce Spanish at Home -- Even When You Don't Speak It

Whether you speak Spanish or not, you can help your child learn Spanish at home. Here are a few examples of the ways in which you can easily improve your child's Spanish vocabulary.

Media and Entertainment

Many kids will watch television regardless of whether or not they understand. Use this to your advantage. Consider paying for a Spanish language cable station and buying age-appropriate Spanish language movies. Have your children watch a half an hour or more of Spanish language television every other day; your child may not understand what's being said at first, but will eventually begin to pick up on the basics.

Increase Exposure to Spanish Speaking Role-Models

Consider hiring a Spanish-speaking nanny, and ask the nanny to speak only Spanish. Your child will begin to pick up more on Spanish words and conversation styles if he or she can converse with someone who is fluent.

If you have no need for a nanny, seek out a babysitter who can watch your child when you're away. Not sure where to find a Spanish speaking nanny or sitter in your area? Find an agency in your area that can help you in your search, or try a service like SitterCity that allows you to look for help with specific qualifications, like age, experience and Spanish-speaking abilities.

Read Simple Books to Your Kids

You may not understand Spanish, but you likely have the ability to read simple Spanish language children's books. The simpler the book, the better. Books with pictures and few words will help your child make connections between the illustrations and the words being said. This is a good chance for you to pick up on some Spanish yourself!

Join a Bilingual Group

Seek out a mom group or play group with Spanish-speaking members, so that your child will gain exposure to adults and children who speak Spanish in a fun, happy environment. If you're wondering how to find a group, there are many resources on the Internet for moms seeking mom groups and play groups. MomMeetMom is one such example, but there are many websites online that are intended to help parents find play groups that fit their needs.

By providing the right tools to help your child learn, you’ll find their Spanish skills grow faster than you’d imagine.

Jan 15

10 Reasons To Teach Your Child Spanish (Part 1)

The Salta! Jump Into Spanish model is based on the fact that learning Spanish at an early age is an important factor in the development of a child. Salta's Spanish classes are designed to boost your child's confidence and improve their overall language skills.

So why teach Spanish to Kids? Here are our top 10 reasons:

1) Reading

Children who have been exposed to a foreign language early often learn to read faster and with greater ease because they are able to recognize the relationship between letters and their sounds without the help of visual objects. Exposure to a second language clearly benefits children’s reading abilities. (American Psychological Association May 1997)

2) Problem Solving

People who study a second language are shown to challenge themselves more and have increased problem solving skills.

3) Creativity

Learning a second language challenges children, resulting in better cognitive flexibility and creative thinking skills. (Therese Sullivan Caccavale, president of the National Network for Early Language Learning)

4) SAT Scores

So your child may not be ready to take the SAT quite yet, but children with bilingual skills outperform similar monolingual children on both verbal and non-verbal tests of intelligence and typically, have higher SAT or standardized test scores. (Department of Education, USA & ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages & Linguistics)

5) Cultural Understanding

Learning a new language opens up a child’s horizons and exposes them to a whole new culture. This level of understanding is important in developing new friendships and relationships. Plus, once a child learns a language, they have that skill for life.

Stay tuned...

We'll be continuing our list in Part 2 later this week. In meantime, you can learn more about the Jump Immersion academic approach here.

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