For kids learning a second language, the benefits extend beyond being able to converse in more than one language. As explained in this article, bilingual children may experience improved cognitive development such as problem solving and logical thinking skills. This is due to bilingual children’s brains actively switching between two different language systems. Bilingual and multilingual children may also demonstrate higher levels of abstract thought and find it easier to learn other languages. Moreover, social-emotional development can be boosted as bilingual children may show better self-control. WordUnited has a wonderful range of learning resources to help children learn a new language. Discover seven ways to help kids learn Spanish below.
1. Spanish Flashcards and Games
Flashcards are excellent versatile learning resources as they encourage learning in an engaging, visual manner. Children can learn the alphabet, actions, numbers, colours and shapes with WordUnited’s Write & Wipe Spanish flashcard kits. Bursting with vibrant illustrations and clear text, the kits also include cute colourful stickers and wipeable pens. Learn everyday words with these flashcards or play a game of snap in Spanish. Similarly, games such as BrainBox Let’s Learn Spanish improve memory, language and social skills. Children have 10 seconds to remember facts on a card before answering questions. Answer correctly and keep the card! The player with the most cards wins the game.
2. Spanish Books for Kids
Discover languages at your fingertips with the following primary languages Spanish books! Little tots can begin with My First 1000 Spanish Words covering topics from family to food, animals to weather. Plus, each word has an English translation and a pronunciation guide to get you started. Next, consider reading Languages of the World: Spanish to learn about similarities and differences between Spanish and English, in addition to basic vocabulary and phrases. Building upon this knowledge, children aged 9 years and above can use Spanish For Beginners. This language guide deals with everyday situations children may find themselves in whilst abroad and explores Spanish grammar.
3. Free Spanish MFL Resources
WordUnited’s Free Resources Hub has hundreds of excellent printable activities you can download from any device. For example, children can learn the names of toys in Spanish with this matching activity. Alternatively, combine mathematics and languages with a Spanish shapes activity. Aiming to improve your little one’s pen control? Colour and trace the alphabet in Spanish to develop pre-writing and fine motor skills.
4. Sensory Activities for Kids
As explained here by Unicef, learning through play encourages children to develop a variety of skills from decision making to communication, as they have a degree of autonomy in their choice of play and are engaged in the activity. Children may also have increased social interactions with peers if the activity is shared. Sensory play enables children to explore and interact with the world in a hands-on way. Not only are sensory activities for kids engaging and joyful, they also boost fine motor skills and dexterity. Using rainbow spaghetti, dried rice or playdough children can practice spelling various words in Spanish.
5. Online Primary Languages Resources
Transform screen time into learning with online education. With many families experiencing home learning – through personal choice or as a result of COVID-19 – online learning is a useful avenue to explore. Alongside books, toys and worksheets, learning can be reinforced with educational activities on the internet. For example, BBC Bitesize helps kids learn Spanish words with class clips and games. Little ones can also learn how to speak Spanish with Dora the Explorer videos on YouTube or the days of the week in Spanish with CBeebies.
6. Applying Spanish in Real Life
A great way to help children embed what they have learned is to apply it to real life. Encourage children to use Spanish vocabulary and phrases each day; for example, point out objects around the house and label them in Spanish. Perhaps you can embark on a Spanish walking adventure and label all the objects you see, such as trees and rivers, birds and insects. For older children, there may also be opportunities at school to participate in a penpal program with a partnering school or in Student Exchange Programs.
7. Nursery Rhymes to Learn a Language
Singing nursery rhymes makes learning languages fun! As children are often familiar with the words and melodies in their first language, it can be enjoyable to learn the song in a second language. The Puppet Company Nursery Rhymes Set is a wonderful accompaniment to songs such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Humpty Dumpty and more. Children and caregivers can use the sweet finger puppets to bring the nursery rhymes to life.