Learning Spanish For Kids – What You Need To Know
Do children really learn Spanish differently to adults? If you are a parent who would like to get their kids speaking Spanish then I’m sure you’ll be very interested to know that the answer to this question is a resounding yes! Learning for kids is different.
Sure, the language is the same, and even a lot of the actual Spanish lessons will be the same, but there are some subtle differences between the way a child and an adult learns a foreign language. Failing to understand these differences could lead to your kids becoming bored, frustrated or even not liking the language at all!
This article is not a ‘how to speak Spanish for kids’ guide. It does however outline some of the key considerations you need to take into account when trying to teach the Spanish language to your children. Understanding that children learn differently to adults, learning how to motivate your kids and making sure that learning the Spanish language for your children is an enjoyable experience are the keys to your kids learning success.
Adults Decide to Learn Spanish – Kids Don’t!
When deciding to learn a new language, an adult will almost certainly be motivated to do so for some specific reason or other. It might be a promotion at work, plans to travel to a Spanish speaking country or a new love. Whatever their reason for trying to learn Spanish, an adult will be learning by choice or out of some other necessity.
An adult’s reason for learning, whatever it may be, is what gives that adult the interest in and motivation to learn the language. It is in this regard that children are very different to adults.
When it comes to something like learning the Spanish language a child is very unlikely to feel the ‘need’ to learn. In their younger and simpler lives they will not have a specific reason to learn and therefore won’t have the drive or motivation to learn that an adult would. They are working from a different mindset to an adult. It is important to understand this key difference when trying to teach Spanish to kids.
For this reason focusing your efforts on motivating your children to learn a new language will see far more successes than simply forcing them to learn (which may be almost impossible to do anyway). Children need to be motivated to learn. It is important to bear this in mind when choosing a course of lessons or any particular Spanish program for your kids.
Children Learn in a Different Way to Adults
Just as with adults, each child learns differently – whether it is math, geometry or in this case learning a new language such as Spanish. Modern researchers tend to agree that the best time to learn a new language is when you are a child as it is easier to retain the learning processes involved. This is good news if you are trying to get your kids to learn a foreign language!
Teaching children Spanish however requires a slightly different approach than teaching the Spanish language to an adult. One reason for this is that children tend to be better visual learners.
According to researchers, children learn well by actually seeing the object rather than just learning the word without a visual. They also tend to retain more of their lesson if the object or the scene they are learning from is in color.
An example of this would be showing a child a picture of an apple (a large picture in full colour) and then telling them the word for apple in Spanish – la manzana. The idea is that this type of lesson will be retained longer in the child’s memory than simply hearing the translation or being exposed to just the letters of the word.
It goes without saying then that any Spanish program or course of lessons which include picture games or flash cards for example would be ideal for children in particular.
Figure Out How to Motivate your Kids to Learn Spanish
Exactly how to go about motivating children has been a long and endearing question for many centuries. Figuring out the best ways to motivate your child could be the key to getting them to learn Spanish effectively. This can be tricky sometimes though, as you might find that what will work for one child may not work for others, even kids in the same family.
For kids to be motivated you will need to do your best to show them what is in it for them. This may make children sound selfish, but unfortunately kids tend to view the world in this way, even into adolescence. Understanding this will help with finding motivation for a child.
Children Love to Be Rewarded
One traditionally very successful way to motivate a child is to introduce a reward system of some kind to their learning process. This is very easy to do. Set a specific learning goal and offer a specific reward when that goal is achieved. It is best to start at the beginning with small easily achievable goals and small rewards and work your way up towards more challenging goals and more exciting rewards.
A simple example of this would be to promise a child a piece of their favourite candy as soon as they can speak all the Spanish numbers from one to ten – a small reward and an easily achievable goal. By using a rewards system in this way your child will soon associate learning Spanish with enjoyable rewards. To them, learning Spanish will become a positive and enjoyable thing to do.
Spanish Lessons for Kids – Make Them Fun
Think back to your favorite teacher in school, was it the one that made class time and learning fun, it probably was. So learning while having fun is without doubt one of the best ways for kids to learn. If you can come up with ways for your kids to have fun while learning Spanish you will find it far easier to motivate them to do some lessons.
Looking forward to a fun event, game or other enjoyable activity will motivate a kid to want to learn. If learning Spanish is fun, then they will look forward to these special fun times. There are many Spanish learning games that are designed for just that, having fun while learning a new language.
In fact many of today’s online Spanish courses are geared towards exactly this, having fun while learning (for both adults and kids). They have taken fun ways to learn into consideration by having fun, bright and colorful activities for learning Spanish.
Many of these programs include Spanish games for kids. Playing games and having fun will go a long way in the progress of teaching your child a new language. Finding a good source of these Spanish learning activities and games should be high on your list of priorities if you’d like your child to learn Spanish successfully.
Involved Learning is the Way to Go
Teaching us how we learn best is now a part of most curriculums in universities and career schools. For instance some of us learn better tactilely which is by touching and learning with our hands whereas others will learn more visually by seeing.
Now generally accepted by researchers is the fact that we remember 80-90% of what we see and touch but only 10-15% of what we hear. Much more relevant is our understanding of this applied to our children’s learning experience.
The best and most effective learning for kids is for them to learn with all of their senses. If they can see, speak and hear Spanish all in one lesson, the senses are all participating in this interactive learning lesson.
Spanish Lessons Online For Kids
If you search through the online options for Spanish courses for kids, you will see that there are many to choose from. Most of these have the very important interactive type lessons that are proven to work.
Also, many of these online Spanish programs have interactive games designed for kids to learn and have fun. When your child has fun and enjoys learning, it will not be a struggle to make them learn the language.
Gone are the days of boring text book Spanish that would have to be memorized and repeated in class or worse yet in front of the class. Very few of those high school Spanish class students are fully lingual in Spanish today.
Possibly, it may be that high school Spanish was not taught in ways that many of us can learn best by interactively using all of our senses. Maybe we were not motivated, except for a grade to pass the class. But, there again, if it was not enjoyable, fun or we had the wrong motivations we retained very little. Much more so with kids, especially in this modern day of computer games, interactive apps and learning puzzles. Kids are learning more because it is fun to learn this way.
For today’s child the best and possibly the only effective way to learn is with the interaction that captivates their minds and stirs motivation. With a complete interactive experience, that is common today online and on computers, kids will quickly, and while having fun, learn a whole new language that will last them a lifetime.
Spanish Programs For Kids
Even though there are many Spanish websites for kids and other such resources available online you will find it difficult to beat the effectiveness of a full specifically designed online Spanish course. Although the more popular modern online programs are not necessarily specifically designed for teaching Spanish to kids they do contain many important features that are geared towards children.
The core of many of these courses revolve around fully interactive audio visual lessons. This will allow your child to take part in exactly the ‘involved learning’ type of lessons we mentioned earlier. They will be encouraged to speak Spanish while they can see and hear the words being spoken – using all of their senses.
Almost every Spanish course on the market these days has a number of learning games which allow children (and adults) to take a break from the ‘work’ of the core lessons and have a little fun. These games become more challenging as progress is made through the course.
Some courses even have a built in rewards system in the form of badges awarded for the completion of various lessons or levels of the program. This would appeal in particular to children who are living in the modern world of video games and the internet.
Four online Spanish programs worth checking out are Rocket Spanish, Rosetta Stone Spanish, Pimsleur Spanish and Fluenz Spanish. All these courses contain features that will make teaching Spanish to your children a little bit easier. Rocket Spanish in particular is very much a feature packed course and a little better value for money than the other courses mentioned. One of the great things about Rocket Spanish is that you can avail of a six day free trial of the program – you can let your kids try it out for a few days without having to spend a single dollar!
Whatever type of Spanish lessons you eventually choose to teach Spanish to your kids, as long as you remember the key points discussed in the article above your efforts will be successful. Find a good way to motivate your children, use lessons that are as interactive as possible and introduce as much fun into the learning process as possible. Apply these simple ideas and you will see your kids learn the Spanish language with ease.