There are many benefits to teaching children more than one language. Some of the benfits are: language coactivation (when you hear a word you don’t recognize, your brain automatically idenitfies it in both languages), the executive function is activated differently (different parts of the brain are activated in comparison to monolingual children and it transefers that information differently), it benefits the child’s self-esteem, and they have a deeper cognitive development. That being said, I’ve spoken to our son in Spanish since he was in the womb. I make it a point to only speak to him in Spanish and my husband speaks to him in English.
My son completed his first year of Pre-K Dual Language. We are really happy with all the work his teacher did with him. He can speak and listen without support. He knows his letters, numbers, colors, days of the week, and months in Spanish. He loves to sing and dance. He is not only proud to speak the language, but also proud of his culture. Now that summer is upon us, he only has me to speak Spanish with him.
It’s been a while since I’ve taught children Spanish, so I had to do some research on how to start Spanish literacy with him. I found some great resources online. I am focusing on the vowels first and then starting him on learning open syllables (for example, he is learning ma, me, mi, mo, mu this week). Here are some activities he is completing. We do about 20-30 minutes of structured literacy activities per day. The rest of the time is conversational and games. The key is to make it fun!
Tips for kids 0-5– read a lot in Spanish, name everything around you in Spanish, sing songs, read poems, and play games. If one parent is choosing to speak Spanish (or any other language besides English) to the child, do not switch to English. Your child has to know you only respond and they get what they in need in Spanish. Check out your local libraries for read alouds and sing alongs. It’s great modeling for your child.
Disclaimer- I do not expect my son to read this young. He’s very curious about reading, but I know he has more than 2 years to master it. It’s important for my husband and I to nurture his home language. So he will learn to read in Spanish first.