This blog post is in response to a mom who sent me the following e-mail on the topic of “e spanish learning.
“Hi AnaI am a parent wanting my 2 year old to learn the language. as you say kids usually have to wait till highschool to learn a 2nd language. My daughter is learning so much right now and I want her to pick up the language. I speak english how should I teach her? I can’t find any classes for her to attend neither. I’m from Pensacola FL, do you know of any teaching place close?”
Dear Mom of a 2 Year Old,
I don’t know about any preschool Spanish classes in your area. Maybe some of the readers of this blog will (please write a comment if you do!).
Have you considered learning Spanish with your daughter? If you have not, you may want to give it a thought. As I mention all over this site, parents are the best kept secret in language learning, and even if you find a class in your area, your daughter would learn so much more if you too decided to jump in! You would soon discover how powerful the combination of classes + parental involvement is.
I don’t know if you have taken Spanish before or not, but I will assume that you have not – if you have, then things will be even easier for you than what I am going to say.
Have you heard the saying “to teach is to learn twice”? It basically means that when you teach you learn so much more than when you simply put your elbows on the table and try to memorize things! You will see that the simple act of teaching your child Spanish will turn you into a better language learner.
The first step in the process though is to plan how you will advance in your own learning. In order to help your daughter learn Spanish you’ll have to run faster than her, but that is very easy at your daughter’s age (relatively speaking, because she is mapping her languages in a much more effective way than yourself!). You will see that my language learning materials have been created with parents in mind and they provide not only everyday language that you can use in your daily interactions with your child (see for example the book and CD Play and Learn Spanish), but also more advanced literary language in the form of many storybooks that should be used in combination with the conversational content provided in the former (for example Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs).
Of course my materials don’t include all of the Spanish language, so you may want to supplement your learning with other resources. You could take adult Spanish classes, explore free online language learning tools such as Live Mocha orBabble, purchase software such as Rosetta Stone or CDs like Pimsleur Spanish, etc. It is also a good idea to explore your local library. They may have many resources already available.
The one thing that I strongly recommend is to make it fun for you. If you are a stay-at-home mom, chances are that you will find a language-learning project together quite exciting (after all, this is a great opportunity to develop a new professional and intellectual skill while having fun with your daughter, not to mention the fantastic cognitive and academic benefits for your child). However, by “making it fun for you” I mean taking it a notch higher. Everyone is different, so making it fun in your case may mean planning a special visit abroad, watching soap operas in Spanish, going shopping with new Spanish friends, reading Spanish thrillers quietly in the comfort of your sofa, or whatever it is that you like.
As for how to do it, there are many ways in which you could proceed, so it is better to explore and decide what works best in your case. Some parents prefer to have a dedicated “Spanish time” each day. Others just go with the flow and switch to Spanish every now and then. Whatever you decide, one thing is certain: the more you use your Spanish the more you’ll learn.
Also, it is important to note that at your child’s age the most effective way to learn a new language is through human interaction. Your daughter will not learn much by watching TV (if she can even stay still in front of the TV at all!). Good materials to start with at age 2 are Play and Learn Spanish and Hop, Skip, and Sing Spanish. Do the games and movements as indicated or create your own. Once your daughter gets to age three, you can start reading to her the stories I published with McGraw-Hill (Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks). After age three and a half or four, your daughter will be ready for the e-storybooks in this website.
I hope this helps. Please write to let me know how the project goes.
Wishing you and your daughter all the best,
Ana Lomba is changing the way people think about and interact with young children learning languages. Her Parents’ Choice award-winning books, lively songs, games, stories, and mobile applications are quickly becoming favorites with teachers and parents who want to nurture young children’ inborn language abilities. Key to the success of Ana’s break-through method is a focus on the family as the ideal environment for early language learning – even her signature curriculum for language programs is built with parents in mind. Ana has taught toddler, preschool, elementary school, and college-level Spanish courses, and held leadership positions with some of the most influential language organizations in the US, including ACTFL, NNELL and FLENJ. After graduating with a law degree from Spain, her native country, Ana pursued graduate studies at Binghamton University, Princeton University, and NYU.