Your preschooler can learn Spanish faster than you would ever guess.

How to Teach Spanish to Pre-K Students

by Molly Thompson

When it comes to learning a language, your little preschooler is a sponge. Introducing a second language at this age is easy -- and fun. At this age, her brain is wired for learning her own language, and it isn’t much of a leap for her to learn words in another language at the same time. Use a blackboard, if you have one, to draw pictures of animals and objects, and also write the names of what you draw on the blackboard, as well. Your little one won't recognize the words yet, but associating a written word with a picture of an object is good practice for her. Keep it simple and fun by using techniques like singing songs, counting and creating matching games that repeat words and concepts frequently.

Tell your little one you're going to teach her some words that might sound funny to her, but that people in Spanish-speaking areas use these words every day. She has already watched the children’s TV shows with Spanish heroines and heroes. Soon, she will be happy to share the new words with her friends.

Start with basic, thematic concepts, and introduce these concepts the way a child would learn them in her native language. Typically, preschoolers can count to 10 -- at least, so teach your preschooler how to count in Spanish. Hold up fingers to show each number, say the number in English and Spanish, and then ask her to repeat it for you: "One is "uno," two is "dos," three is "tres ..." and so on. This helps her make the connection between English and Spanish, and to understand that you can express the same concept in more than one language.

Reinforce the lessons with pictures, coloring sheets or simple activities. As part of teaching your preschooler her numbers in Spanish, give her fruit snacks or pretzels to use when counting out the numbers. Give her a marker and worksheets and help them match the number with the appropriate picture. For example, if you say "tres," your preschooler should connect the number 3 with the picture that contains three flowers. Teach her how to say the Spanish number that corresponds with her age, which would be three, four or five.

Use songs or simple rhymes to teach groups of words such as days of the week or colors. Sing the songs repeatedly to reinforce the words and display pictures or hand motions that go along with the words your child is learning. Typically, kids this age love rhythmic actions and simple songs, and learn by repeating things frequently. You might end up hearing these little ditties in your sleep, but your child will pick up the words quickly and will remember them.

Use short videos of that introduce Spanish words. Read children's picture books in the Spanish versions that feature familiar characters like "Clifford, The Big, Red Dog" or "The Cat in the Hat." When the preschoolers already know the characters and the stories, hearing the same things in Spanish is fun and silly, and is likely to keep their interest.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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