The overwhelming majority of people in North Carolina speak English as the primary language. However, around 7 percent of the population speak Spanish as the primary language, and even more households are bilingual. As our state and nation become more diverse, knowing Spanish offers more opportunities in a career, to travel, and to simply make new connections, and the earlier a child is exposed to a second language, the easier it is for them to pick it up and retain it. When it comes to learning Spanish for kids, there are some simple things you can do get your child started.
Benefits of Learning Spanish for Kids
As we mentioned, Spanish is widely spoken, not just in the United States, but around the world, with 500 million people speaking it as their primary language. While there is no question about why it’s important to learn it, let’s consider the benefits to learning it in early childhood.
Before the age of six, children are more receptive to learning language quickly and easily, with a greater capacity to pronounce new sounds and remember complicated rules of grammar. Basically, it comes more naturally to them.
Improve Other Skills
Research has shown that children who learn a second language also show stronger problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Other studies have also shown a marked improvement in memory, creativity, and adaptability in children who are bilingual.
Improve Cultural Sensitivity
Learning a language allows children to learn more about the culture associated with the language and improves empathy, tolerance, and awareness of the world around them.
Tips for Teaching Spanish at Home
Even if you aren’t fluent (or even familiar) with Spanish, you can help children begin learning it at home – often, parents and kids can learn together! Here are some simple ways to get started.
Children’s songs in Spanish are a great way to introduce a new language to preschoolers because it helps create context to lyrics and help with pronunciation. Rockalingua has free songs that come with lyrics and illustrations that small children will love!
Cartoons and Videos
Cartoons and videos designed for toddlers and preschoolers are a great resource because they feature simple vocabulary and a simple storyline that allow kids to pick up words as they go. Kids may want to watch favorite videos multiple times which is an excellent way to learn Spanish as repetition is important. There are several shows available on Netflix – simply go into the audio and subtitles menu and see if it’s available in Spanish. Favorites for beginners include:
- Word Party
- Little Baby Bum
- Charlie’s Colorforms City
- Masha and the Bear
Printing out pictures to color offers several opportunities to teach a few Spanish words, including what’s in the picture, shapes that are in the picture, and the colors that are being used. It’s a good way to introduce nouns and adjectives easily while still having fun.
Create a Theme
Every few weeks, set up a theme for what your child can learn in Spanish. For example, an “At the Zoo” theme where you and your child do an activity each day learning zoo-themed Spanish, including animals (zebra = la cebra, tiger = el tigre), the color of the animals, verbs at the zoo (look, see, walk, smell), and putting them all together into phrases. If you have plastic animals, picture books, or print-outs to color, it’s easy to create Spanish lessons at home for preschoolers.
Enrolling Your Child in a Preschool Spanish Class
If you would like for your child to learn a second language, but you’re not sure where to start, look at Spanish classes for preschoolers. With a weekly class, your child will have fun learning a new language and you can build on the lesson with activities at home. These classes, like the ones we teach at Primary Beginnings, rely on hands-on activities, games, songs, and stories, so your child will learn through play and discovery.
Schedule a Tour at Our Raleigh Preschool for Spanish Classess
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in Spanish classes, or you’d like a full preschool program that also includes Spanish instruction, Primary Beginnings can help. With two Raleigh locations, we offer five-star child care and a nurturing environment where your child can thrive. To schedule a tour with our Raleigh preschool, call us today at 919-790-6888 for our Spring Forest Road location and 919-785-0303 for our North Hills Drive Center.