1. Speak to them in Spanish, even if you only have a basic knowledge
While you may be thinking, "but I don't speak any Spanish!" the key here is to use what you do know. Even if it is simply a few phrases or words, use them with your child! Spanish is a challenging language to begin learning later in life. Although it has much more consistent grammatical rules than does English, we still have a hard time. There are different phonetic sounds such as the "rr" trill or the "th" which we hear native speakers use abundantly and with ease (for the latter, it is more common in Spain). The difficulty some of us have in reproducing that sound stems from the fact that we were taught certain syllables to use as a child.
2. Teach them basic words of things around the house in Spanish
Teaching your child basic words of objects and things around the house is another great way to help them learn Spanish. The best part about this is that you don't even need to know the language yourself! You can find a website, or use some examples which we'll give in a second, and then teach your kids the name of these things just as you would in English. Here are some easy examples:
- Table: la mesa
- Chair: la silla
- Bed: la cama
- Phone: el telefono
- Bathroom: el bano
- Computer: la computadora
- Dog: el perro
- Cat: el gato
- Fish: el pes
- Kitchen: la cocina
- couch: el sofÃ¡
- Clothes dryer: la secadora
- oven: el horno
- Microwave: el microondas
- Washing machine: la lavadora
These are just some basic ones, but there are tons of resources out there to find more words! Or, another great idea is to buy a Spanish-English dictionary from Amazon and just browse for words that you don't know in Spanish.
3. Entertain them with a Spanish-language cartoon series like Dora the Explorer
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Most basic cable channels have a few Spanish channels, so why not let your kid grow up watching these instead of the usual cartoons? Dora the Explorer is a good transitional show because it is bilingual. Check your local listings to find what is playing.
4. Read them childrens stories in Spanish
Another great method to try is to read your child bedtime stories in Spanish. You can find some great book ideas by searching on Amazon.com or on Google Books.
5. Hire a Spanish-speaking babysitter, nanny, or maid
Some of our best friends growing up had a housekeeper or babysitter who spoke Spanish, and they tell me now that it was incredibly helpful. Some housekeepers will speak to your children in Spanish anyway, but if you specifically ask them to, you'd be surprised at the enthusiastic response. Everyone loves speaking their native language, but usually loves teaching it even more!