Seven Ways Parents Can Learn Spanish Along with Their Kids

Welcome, 2021! (and ¡Adiós, 2020!)  We’ve never been more eager to see the end of an old year and the start of a new one!  If part of your fresh start to 2021 is to improve your Spanish, we’re here to help. Whether you have lofty goals or just want to be able to keep up with your Spanish Schoolhouse preschooler, here are seven easy ways parents can learn Spanish along with their kids. 

Language Learning, Intercambios, learn Spanish

#1 Turn TV into a Tutor!

We always encourage our students to select the Spanish language option when watching TV or movies. They already know the storylines, so it’s an easy transition to comprehension when they hear the dialog in Spanish. Padres, you can do this too!  Try either Spanish dubbing (a great way to hear the lyrical flow of the language) or English with Spanish subtitles (a great way to simultaneously translate).  

Technology is making this even easier.  Some streaming services offer extensions especially made for language learning – like Language Learning with Netflix!  It has a dual-caption feature, showing both English and Spanish dialogue on the screen. If you’re a good multitasker you can hear spoken Spanish, read it, and see the English translation all at once!  You can even click an unknown word for a pop-up definition.  

Learn spanish, spanish subtitles

#2 An App-le a Day!

Check out these apps to learn and improve Spanish on the go. DuoLingo, Babble, FluentU, Pimsleur, and Berlitz are just some of the many highly-rated websites and apps that will ramp up your Spanish vocabulary and usage.

Language learning apps

#3 Libros y Música

If you prefer more old-school, hands-on learning, head to the library for Spanish magazines and books (fiction, nonfiction, and instructional).  Switch the radio dial to local Spanish stations or stream the Top 40 hits from Spain and Latin America on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. for some Latin flavor.  There are many online options to find the song lyrics, which can help your vocabulary learning and probably introduce you to a bit of slang, as well.    

#4 Intercambios

For face-to-face conversation (either virtually or in-person) chatting with a “language exchange” partner or Intercambio is a great option. The international studies departments at universities may be able to put you in touch with Spanish-speaking students who want to improve their English while you chat in both languages.  MeetUp.com has listings for virtual language exchanges or in-person group chats at public settings like coffee shops or libraries. For a more structured and guided learning experience, you can brush off your backpack and head back to school!  Take a look at the Continuing Education classes offered at your local community college. 

Intercambio

#5 Hit the Town (Virtually for Now)!

The current pandemic situation may put some of the following ideas on hold, but don’t skip this section!  Lots of events and lessons are available through live streaming and Zoom – which might make them even more convenient.  

Check the events calendar at art museums and cultural centers for exhibitions on Latin artists and musicians. You can also search for performances of flamenco or folkloric dancing. Speaking of dancing, why not give salsa or merengue lessons a try?  Even Zumba classes will invigorate the body and soul with high-energy Latin moves and music for all ages!

folclorico dance, folkloric dance

Look for Latin fairs and festivals. You might find local events for Cinco de Mayo, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Día de los Muertos. Churches in your community may host celebrations of Las Posadas and Los Reyes Magos during the Christmas season (the latter might give you a taste of the delicious Rosca de Reyes cake).

And speaking of food, here’s an easy (and tasty) way to have a language and cultural experience.  Seek out authentic restaurants with Spanish menus and Spanish-speaking staff. In addition to many Mexican options, you may find Peruvian, Salvadorian, Venezuelan, Colombian, Cuban, Argentinian, and Spanish. Don’t be shy about ordering and conversing in Spanish, or about venturing beyond the more familiar dishes to try something really unique or traditional!  

#6  Embrace the Culture At Home and Abroad!

Little ones are immersed in the Spanish language and culture every day at Spanish Schoolhouse. They’ll love seeing you incorporate this at home too. Try some Spanish recipes together (check out these previous posts for ideas: here and here).  Make cascarones – colorful confetti eggs – at Easter.  Give the Tooth Fairy a day off, and invite Ratón Pérez the next time your child loses a tooth.  

Cascarones

And if you’re feeling adventurous when international travel opens up fully again, the world is your oyster!  Consider foreign immersion programs for families. Organizations like Spanish Abroad arrange teen and family immersion programs in Spain and Latin America. 

Study Abroad

#7 Learn Like a Preschooler

The Spanish Schoolhouse materials can help parents learn Spanish along with their kids!  Be sure to follow our monthly calendar with vocabulary and learning themes.  You can find a copy in your child’s folder or a link in the monthly newsletter sent by email.  You’ll also find links to our monthly songs and lyrics in the newsletter.  Your kids will love to sing along and teach you the words/motions!

¡Buena Suerte!

If you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish, make 2021 the year you make great strides.  We challenge you to choose two or three of these tips to commit to in 2021!  Joining your little ones in learning Spanish can help you build even more connections and appreciation for language/cultural learning.  We wish you Buena Suerte (good luck) and mucho éxito (much success) with your Spanish!  

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