Learning The Local Lingo: Fun Ways For Kids To Pick Up Spanish

by Dakota Murphey
(Portsmouth, UK)

Fun Ways For Kids To Pick Up Spanish

Fun Ways For Kids To Pick Up Spanish

Learning a second language is a skill that offers so many advantages for people of all ages, but especially for young children. As expats in a new destination, being able to speak the local lingo can really open up your kids’ world, making it easier for them to make friends and get used to new routines and cultures. Luckily, children learn fast and with a few strategic games and activities, they’ll be speaking Spanish in next to no time. Here are a few suggestions on how to make learning Spanish fun for little ones.

Create your own flashcards

A great way to make language learning more fun is to develop unique flashcards that kids can play with, either amongst themselves or with parents or siblings. As new residents to Spain and the Costa del Sol, you’re likely to be ticking things off your bucket list such as eating fresh local seafood, visiting the marinas or visiting the San Pedro Boulevard. So, why not combine these activities with language learning by snapping photos for your own flashcards?

“Often, a single subject is what draws us to take a photo”, explains photography experts MPB, “But it’s easy to overlook how much of what we are enjoying about the scene is actually the space surrounding the subject. Sometimes it’s worth paying attention to the environment your subject is in”. In doing this, you can craft a photo that offers numerous opportunities for kids to memorise different terms.

Listen to radio stations and podcasts

If you want to sharpen your kids’ listening skills and expose them to different accents or speaking styles, listening to Spanish radio stations can be a great way to add a quick 5- or 10-minute language lesson to your day. Why not listen to a short segment and then discuss it afterwards so your kids can share their thoughts and any words they’ve picked up.
Alternatively, you can find podcasts hosted in Spanish which is ideal if you want to learn words or phrases related to a specific topic. Podcasts like Tumble En Español or Cuentos Increíbles are designed for children and feature fun facts and inspiring stories that will keep kids engaged while also learning.

Engage with Spanish media

It’s worthwhile listening to Spanish being spoken to help kids pick up words in context. Music is a great option that helps children pick up the pronunciation and intonation more quickly, but there’s also cartoons and movies which are attention-grabbing and can help kids pick up the context of phrases through the animations.
The narrative structure and cultural references really aid comprehension, and the storytelling element will be enjoyable for young children. As a bonus, why not see if you can find your kids favourite shows or films from home translated in Spanish, so they’ll know the story and can follow along more easily.

Cook local foods

Food is a brilliant medium for getting to know a culture on a deeper level, and it’s a fun way to understand the cultural significance of local dishes. What’s more, for expat kids looking to get to know their new hometown, being familiar with the food of the area can really help. Following recipes in Spanish will introduce new words related to cooking techniques and the ingredients you’re using into your repertoire, and it’s an activity that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Play ‘I Spy’

Everyone knows how to play ‘I Spy’ and it’s a great activity for those in-between moments on the way to school or while you’re eating breakfast. Kids will have an opportunity to practise new vocabulary and pronunciation, and it’s perfect even for small children who can opt for colours or basic nouns around them. In Spain, the game is called Veo, Veo, which means ‘I See, I See’, but the rules of the game are
exactly the same.

Set up playdates with other kids

Expats are keen to make connections with local families and when it comes to learning the language, meeting up with other people can be a great way to practise. Why not arrange playdates for kids in your area, such as to the park or taking a trip to the local zoo, where kids and adults alike can make new friends and practise their language learning at the same time – all in a more relaxed environment.

Label items around the house

Create labels in Spanish for household items like the refrigerator, door or mirror which can be tacked onto the items, to remind kids how to say the word. Encourage little ones to read the labels and use the words in context or in a sentence when they’re using the item, which will keep growing their vocabulary.
You could also make a progress chart which will not only keep track of the words your kids have picked up but also teaches little ones clear goals. Praise them when they reach a certain goal and regularly swap out the labelled items, so they constantly keep learning and grow their knowledge of the language.

Celebrate Spanish holidays and events

Associating language with celebrations makes learning the language more engaging and memorable. Whether it’s learning traditional songs and dances or learning the history and cultural background to these traditions, festivals and events are a fun way to see the world from a fresh perspective and learn more about life in Spain.
Why not see if there are local clubs where you can play a more active role in the community to help with the set-up of celebrations, such as crafting decorations, creating greeting cards or helping to cook traditional dishes, which will not only provide you with a more hands-on experience but widen your social network too.

These activities are just a few ways to incorporate language learning into your new routine to help kids pick up Spanish more quickly. Understanding the local language can help settling into the area easier, as moving to a new country can be a challenge for little ones. While classic language classes are valuable for formal learning, sneaking learning into those hidden moments during the day, such as while watching TV or getting ready in the morning, can make becoming bilingual a smoother process that’s fun and engaging.
And of course, don’t forget to join our growing Marbella Family Fun Community below by adding a comment, sharing your own tips and experiences or asking for further advice on learning the local lingo.

Comments for Learning The Local Lingo: Fun Ways For Kids To Pick Up Spanish

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Mar 15, 2024
What a great list of ideas!
by: Annette

Thank you for sharing this! These look very good and many I never thought of!

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