It's not easy to support Spanish learners when you’re completely monolingual. It’s not easy – but it’s possible. After all, there's only one Stephen Hawking and yet we're all finding ways to support our budding scientists. So, today I want to share some ways that you can participate in your child’s language studies even if you don’t know the language.
First, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good social network! Reach out to other dual language families from your child’s school and schedule play dates and field trips. A trip to the zoo, where your dual kid only speaks Spanish, is a great opportunity for your kids to practice language skills in a not-quite-everyday setting. Speak to bilingual coworkers, and if they’re interested, schedule outings with their families as well. Not all bilingual parents are raising bilingual children, but even if their children don't speak Spanish, you'll give your child the chance to speak Spanish with adult native speakers.
FAMILY NIGHTS Schedule family nights where your dual kid can teach family members fun facts about the Spanish language or the cultures of countries where Spanish is the official language. Choose a different country each week, and learn about the geography and cultures of that country. Prepare a traditional meal together, and let your child tell you about the cultural significance of the ingredients.
And let’s not forget about books! Books are an amazing way to help your child explore both language and culture. Find books at your dual kid's reading level and purchase (or check out from the library) a copy in English and a copy in Spanish and read the books together. Younger children especially enjoy reading aloud – have your child read a page aloud and then you read the English translation aloud and compare the two. Older children can read a chapter silently or aloud, however they’re most comfortable, and then can give you a brief synopsis of that chapter. Or you can take turns – you give a report on one chapter, and your child can give a report on the next. Better yet, your older dual kid can read Spanish language books to younger siblings, even if they’re not yet enrolled in a dual language program.
Take Spanish Immersion Vacations. Depending on where you live, this might not be as easy for everyone to accomplish, but it’s definitely worth it! Let your child serve as the primary translator during the vacation, even if hotel, restaurant, and retail staff speak English. You might not have to travel very far from home; most US communities have Spanish-speaking populations, which can make it easy to turn a weekend beach getaway into a language immersion experience. Find Latino-owned businesses and make sure to shop or eat there, so your child will have the opportunity to translate.
Speaking of Spanish Immersion Vacations – let us take care of all the planning and legwork! We’re going to Paradisus Cancun in June. Interested? Check out all the info here.
Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash