Español con los niños (Spanish with kids)
A question we are often asked at Denver Spanish Network: How do I help my kids learn Spanish when I'm not fluent myself? We've got our "FAQritas" (Think favoritas - favorites, or margaritas if you've had a hard day with the kiddos) right here.
“I want my kids to understand Spanish, but I’m not fluent enough to use it yet.”
All Spanish exposure contributes to learning. Use what you can, even if it's simply naming objects around you.
“My kid doesn’t like it when I speak to him in Spanish, and he refuses to reply in anything other than English.”
By about the second or third time you tell your kid, “¡Lávate las manos!” he’ll figure out you want him to wash his hands, whether he mutters his reply in Spanish, English, Portuguese, or Hmong. You know what else you covertly taught him? “Las manos.” He’ll learn the phrase from repeated exposure and naturally pick up that even though mano ends with an o, it’s feminine and is paired with la.
“You know the One Semester of Spanish Love Song? That’s about all I know. It doesn’t make sense for me to keep asking my kid ‘¿Cómo te llamas?’ when I named her myself.”
Begin where you are, wherever that is. Add a phrase to your repertoire every couple of days, and soon you’ll have a fair amount of vocabulary.
Here are some phrases to try with your kids:
Ayúdame, por favor. Help me, please. ¿Te ayudo? Can I help you?
Dame la mano. Give me your hand. Toma mi mano. Take my hand.
Ven acá. Come here.
Pon la mesa Set the table.
Es hora de comer. It’s time to eat.
¿Te gusta? Do you like it?
¿Quieres más? Do you want more?
Que sueñes con los angelitos. Sweet dreams.
Te quiero. I love you.
¡Bien hecho! Well done!