For many Latina moms living in the United States, Spanish is not our first language, especially those of us who are Millennial moms or first generation. A lot of us were born and raised in the states and went to American schools where only English was spoken and have parents who may speak English fluently. Even if we do understand Spanish and can get by in a conversation, we are more likely to fluctuate between English and Spanglish. English tends to come more easily to us, so we inevitably begin speaking to our kids in English from the moment they’re born.
There’s no shame in being a Latina who doesn’t speak Spanish—most of us who don’t weren’t taught the language as kids for a myriad of reasons relating to what our own parents thought was best at the time—but now, we know better. We know that being bilingual is a huge asset and will only serve our children as they become adults and enter into the workforce. Being more familiar with the language ourselves, we should definitely be passing on what we can to our children. Yes, they might learn it in school, but in elementary school most kids aren’t being taught Spanish every day, and by the time they are in middle school and high school, learning to speak a new language fluently will be a lot more difficult.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of teaching we can do at home that can at least set our children up for basic understanding of the language so they have a leg up when it’s time to start learning at school. In fact, depending on how old your kids are, they may even be able to become conversational speakers through the activities and resources you introduce at home, even if you yourself are not. Read on to discover our favorite affordable and fun resources to help you teach your kids Spanish at home.
Eat Your Spanish Podcast
The Eat Your Spanish podcast has been around for a few years, but it really took off in 2020 when many children began virtual schooling and homeschooling. It’s a super-fun interactive Montessori-inspired listening experience for pre-school and elementary aged students created by native speaker Vanessa who was raised in Ecuador from infancy, and her husband Evan, who was inspired by his wife’s culture.
The Public Library
Many if not most free public libraries offer a selection of Spanish-language children’s books that can be an excellent way to familiarize children with the language’s cadence as well as vocabulary. We are particularly fond of bilingual children’s books since the translations are right there in front of you and make it easier for children to make connections. Libraries offer e-books and audiobooks so depending on your child’s needs you can find what works best for you in addition to the classic paperback.
Duolingo has been a popular language education app for years now and although there is no dedicated kids version, the original is well-suited to teaching kids Spanish. Because it starts with an initial assessment and offers lessons suited to even the most basic level beginners, it feels a whole lot like a kids video game and features a cute cartoon owl as its mascot, kids are always intrigued by it, and often beg to “play” (i.e. learn) more.
There are tons of educational Spanish language channels to subscribe to on YouTube. Not all of them are geared towards children, but plenty are. Spanish Playground is a great place to start, but you can also look for specific topics like alphabet or animals, etc. on the video streaming platform and come up with a trove of engaging, kid-friendly video lessons to check out. Other Spanish language learning Youtube channels we recommend include Muzzy and Rock ‘N’ Learn which offer videos that teach kids the basics.
Yup, it’s as simple as that. Using OnlineFreeSpanish.com, older elementary school children can navigate through tons of free Spanish lessons and activities from the beginner level up through advanced. There’s a “word of the day,” e-books, puzzles and games, songs and more. You can even print out worksheets to keep your kids off the screens for a bit.
Another excellent website for kids to practice their Spanish skills is 123TeachMe.com, which actually offers fun, free online Spanish quizzes for kids, which can be helpful when you’re trying to gauge their progress. Plus, the quizzes feel a lot like games, so kids don’t mind them so much.
Although not free, Outschool is an online platform that offers tons of live virtual classes taught by vetted instructors on a wide variety of subjects and topics, including languages like Spanish. Lessons are purchased on an individual basis or per session, dependent on the instructor’s preference, and are usually designated by age group or grade level.
Available on both Apple devices and Google Play, Endless Spanish is an excellent app for preschool and early elementary aged children to become familiar with Spanish vocabulary and the accent. It’s for them to navigate on their own, and the adorable cartoon monsters keep them entertained and engaged. Win/win!
Learn Spanish by Mind Snacks
Kids who are a bit older will have a fun experience with the Learn Spanish by Mind Snacks app which is available for Apple devices. This app is designed to help children learn to both speak and read Spanish through a variety of games.
Yes! Guilt-free screen time is a thing. Start introducing your children to Spanish-language and bilingual cartoons and let them watch an episode or two daily. Many popular cartoons are available in Spanish including Daniel Tiger, Llama Llama, and Spirit. If your children can already read fluently, you can even double down on the learning by putting on English subtitles, just like you do for yourself when you watch telenovelas.