Helping a young child learn a foreign language

Hello everyone. I have a dilemma. I have a 4 year old daughter (she will be 5 in March). She hears me speak Spanish on Skype, and she has told me that she wants to learn Spanish. She watches Dora the Explorer, and from that has learned a few words and phrases, which she will say to me when she wants to speak in Spanish, or she will make up words. She also wants to learn Chinese, but that’s another story, I definitely have no experience with that.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to help her learn Spanish? One day I repeated everything I said in English in Spanish, but she didn’t like that. She said she didn’t understand what I was saying. I’ve looked around the area for bilingual schools, of which there are none near here. There are a few private schools that teach elementary school children Spanish a few times a week, but I don’t want to go this route.

you sure know these Post-it notes, put them an various things in the house and write their spanish name on it,
and start using the spanish names, e.g. instead of “please bring me the plate” you would say “please bring me la placa”, maybe someday even “por favor, tráeme la placa”
i think this is a good start…

haha xD forget the part with the post it’s, sorry i did not read your post carefully…but you could teach her a word every day, and then start using it this way

Hola Angela!

unos cuentos para tu niña y su mama! :wink:

I love Berta’s “Los pollitos”, a very funny children’s song, with lots of action in it. You should see me doing it for my granddaughter.

TPR (Total Physical Response) and TPRS are classrooms approaches to teaching foreign languages to all ages of students. They’d definitely work for young children. But at home, of course, you don’t need anything formal. If I were trying to teach a young child at home, I’d give very simple “commands”, model what they mean, do them with the child. Stop doing whatever the action was so the child does it alone…repeat actions over and over in different contexts…Tell her what she just DID. Tell her what she’s GOING to do… It might be described as just talking to her as you did when she was first learning to talk English, but do it in Spanish. Mis dos centavos. (Soy maestra; no soy mamá.)

Sorry, I’m not qualified to answer this as I don’t have children. However, from my upbringing many many years ago, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use English and slip in random foreign words. It doesn’t aid in any fluency nor does it establish a foundation for foreign learning.

Possible solutions:

  • play groups
  • foreign babysitter

I did remember reading somewhere, that a child needs 33% of time spent in language interactive immersion to acquire it properly.

Such a lovely child!
My co-work’s daughter like watching cartoons with simple English words and English songs. I think it maybe useful, because children all like watching cartoons.

I think your child will be more interesting in Spanish from cartoons. this is a interesting way for a child.

When I was like 4-6 my father taught me english and greek- best thing ever (though these days I don’t use greek that much so am forgetting it gradually)

Children songs would be a good start. Cartoons and short YouTube clips are good too.

Thanks everyone for your advice. Yes, I really wanted to start now with her since she has expressed this interest.

@ yuriythebest Oh wow, that’s great! I’d love for it to be that way with my daughter.

@ SanneT Yes, I love that song, and Berta’s way of singing it. :wink: Now I need to search online for the gestures.

@ jolanda and mmj1958 Thanks for those suggestions. My daughter likes stories and TV, I think both of those will be enjoyable for her.

@ Jingle A special thanks to you. I am trying to think of ways to interact with her in Spanish, so this is helpful.

I just made up the actions, lots of arm flapping, tummy rubbing, shivering, etc, etc. There is a lovely children’s book (actually, I think it’s also good for adults) by Munro Leaf. It tells the story of Ferdinand the Bull and how he prefers to sit down and smell flowers, rather than to fight like the other bulls. If you get it in English and Spanish, you and your daughter might have a great time.