Raising your kids bilingual is more difficult than it sounds. For Hispanics in the United States, it can sometimes be hard when your child won’t speak Spanish to mom and dad, and Spanish learning can quickly become a struggle if we don’t have support. Much more than simply speaking in your native language, there are formal techniques that you can use to help this process along.
One thing is for sure both parents can contribute to this process. It doesn’t matter which of you is the one speaking the non-dominant or minority language – dads can, and need, to be involved in their child’s bilingual Spanish education.
Dads Can Help Spanish Learning in 5 Ways
- Be consistent
One Person, One Language, or the OPOL method, is one of the most common ways to help your children become bilingual.
Basically, each parent speaks only one language to the child. This conditions them to think of Spanish as the language that you need them to speak in order to be able to communicate – in this way, dads can help Spanish learning be natural for the family.
- Be patient
It’s been shown that bilingual children sometimes take longer to start speaking properly, as their brains are working hard to try to figure out the two languages. So – don’t give up. And don’t push your kids in either language.
If you are consistent, their language skills will smooth out soon enough.
- Share your culture
Particularly if you are far from your native country, your child may feel like it’s not a relevant part of his or her life. Make a point to share photos and stories of your family, country, and culture – in Spanish, of course! Kids will love that special storytelling time with their dads.
But language learning isn’t all serious. Here are some fun things you can do to support your child as he or she learns Spanish.
- Give them media in Spanish
One of the best ways to teach kids Spanish is to make sure they have plenty of ways to include Spanish in their daily lives – and that includes entertainment.
By buying them books and music, dads can help Spanish learning by giving them ways to practice, but you are also showing them that Spanish is fun and relevant to their day-to-day lives. Watching movies and television shows in Spanish together lets them share your culture with you while they practice their listening skills.
- Play games with them – in Spanish
Lots of card and board games have Spanish versions. For example, Monopoly, Life, or Scrabble. Other games are easy to use in Spanish: Connect 4, Pictionary, Go Fish, or Uno. Make game night Spanish-only. Not only will they need to use Spanish to play the game, but have them use it in any conversation that night, as well.
With dedication and creativity, dads can help make the Spanish learning process fun and effective.