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.