Having children is wonderful! Sure they can think up the most interesting things that will try a person’s soul, like my daughter taking a shower with an umbrella, but then they will do some of the cutest things that make you adore them to pieces. I think it must be a survival mechanism that must have evolved into the human race. My 4-year-old, especially, can say and do the darndest things.
What does this have to do with Spanish?
When you are in a family, there are very few secrets that can be kept long. Since I am not keeping my desire to learn spanish a secret, my children definitely know I am learning spanish. I say stuff to them in spanish all the time, sometimes forgetting that they don’t know what I am saying. When I put a movie on for them, they now warn me not to put the spanish subtitles on or they wont watch with me. So yeah, it’s no secret that I am learning spanish.
So with that background, here is a common conversation I have with my 4-year-old daughter:
Me: Felicity, you need to stop doing “X” ( X can be anything extremely naughty, like the umbrella incident already mentioned)
Felicity: You need to say the magic word
Felicity: No Dad! I speak spanish!
Me: Por favor?!?
Felicity: That’s better. (All while walking off smug like she just told her Dad off.)
This conversation is, other than my one spanish phrase I say, entirely in english. I can think of no other reason for her being able to do something so cute other than as a survival mechanism.
What’s the point of the story?
First, I like to tell fun stories about my kids. I love my kids and will find any excuse to talk about them if I can. The other reason is that I have sparked an interest with my kids learning foreign languages despite them complaining about it when I do too much spanish with them. They even will ask me to teach them stuff sometimes.
This is where it gets hard. I know I don’t learn the same as kids, but how do I teach them? I know that children learn better when its fun, but everything I can find, to teach children spanish, only teach them a bunch of words in spanish. I haven’t found hardly anything that teaches them real conversational type stuff. I have a few things, of course, but its boring to them. Dora, Diego, and Handy Manny do not teach kids how to speak spanish even though it is very entertaining and educational.
I remember talking to a kid in highschool who was in the most advanced Spanish classes of our school and got all A’s. This person could sing lots of songs in spanish and could tell me HEAPS of vocabulary in spanish, but couldn’t put a simple spanish sentence together. I really don’t want my children’s foreign language experience to be like that.
This is where you come in
I am trying to figure out how to bring my children along for the ride on this big adventure I am having. I know I am not the only one out there who wants to encourage their children to learn a foreign language. Here is just one example. The problem is, that I have to attempt this without forcing them into it. I also need to do it without losing their interest. I have already mentioned the I have the Muzzy DVD’s and they like them alright, but then they found out that they could watch them in english and that is what they always ask for now.
So I admit that I need help. Do any of you have any ideas or suggestions? Does anyone have any experience or methods that they know have worked for them. If you do, please put them in the comments below.
- Past, present, future (want2speakspanish.wordpress.com)
- PspanishX (want2speakspanish.wordpress.com)
- Bilingual Parenting Ain’t for the Weak-hearted (dmacteaches.wordpress.com)