Language Challenge 101: Let the Spanish Language Learning Begin!

by Corey · 12 comments

Are you up for the challenge?
Of course you are!

Many of you have read the magazine, have read the blog posts, and have sent me emails asking how, exactly, one goes about learning a new language together with kids.

I hear you! It just isn’t as straightforward as we’d all like it to be, is it?

Many of you are monolingual and would love nothing more than to add a language into your family’s daily life.  Some are bilingual but for a number of reasons want to add a third language into the mix.  And others have a myriad of reasons: from a general love of language to wanting to learn a spouse’s language.

So many fabulous reasons.  So many wonderful languages to learn!

Time to take the leap

How does one go about learning a language with their family?  Is it possible?  How can we go beyond basic numbers and colors?  Is it necessary to spend a ton of money on it?

The truth is, none of us can know until we give it a try. There is no perfect answer for questions like these.  It comes down to how much motivation we have, how much support we have, how much time we have to find resources, whether we are creative with our language-learning materials, what our goals are, and so much more.

So, my answer to all of your questions is: Let’s find out together!

What if we make a commitment for 101 days to learn a language together with our families and see what happens?  Are you up for the challenge?

Let’s find out how much we can learn, how motivated we can get, and what other fabulous things will happen along this language learning journey!

How about it?  Are you with me?  Here is your chance!

I have successfully convinced my family to join me for this Language Challenge 101.  At first my children and husband were hesitant but now they have jumped on the bandwagon and are getting more and more excited each day.  In fact, although it took some initial convincing, my husband has now become our greatest motivator.

How to choose a language

For a number of reasons, we are choosing Spanish as our first language:

  • Resources are easy to come by
  • We have access to a few Spanish-language channels on our very basic cable TV
  • My children have taken some classes in Spanish from another homeschooling mom
  • There are others with whom we can use the language
  • We have been talking about wanting to learn Spanish for quite a while

My plan is to enter a post a week outlining the successes and failures that we encounter as well as resources that we are using.  I’ll try to keep a running journal so that I can share tips, inspiration and motivation.  My hope is that your family will join mine and you can share your experiences in the comments section, via Facebook or Twitter.  My family and I would love to share this experience with you and yours!


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen July 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I really like this idea because frankly I need a kick in the pants. Summer is a great time to start since schedules are more relaxed. 🙂


2 Corey July 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Thank you for the comment, Karen! You said it: needing the kick in the pants. That is so very true. Your blog is fabulous and I am going to find a lot of inspiration, tips and support there, I know it!


3 Alexis July 9, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I’m in. I’ve been thinking about having the family learn Spanish together for a long time. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you guys!


4 Corey July 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hope you are inspired to get some Spanish-language learning going. This week has already been so much fun for us. The kids and I are asking simple things in Spanish whenever we can and giving our simple answers. It cracks us all up and makes it so much fun! Thank you for your comment – let me know if you decide to do this and how it goes.


5 Alice July 9, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Excellent idea! As a variation to this, instead of adding a new language (we have 3 already after all), we could try to use this to boost our minority language Spanish. I can’t wait to read what resources you all use!


6 Corey July 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Yes! Definitely a great inspiration for keeping the second language alive. I love it! I was thinking that our next Language Challenge will be getting my German stronger… I could so use that and I know we’d all have fun and benefit. Ditto on the resources – let me know what you recommend. We are hitting the library up for whatever we can get. I notice that we are finding a lot in Spain-Spanish vs Latin and South American Spanish. Interesting!


7 Chitty July 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Dear Corey,

I’m so excited to see this! Last year, I started a community blog for people reclaiming their mother tongues – languages they grew up with but lost or never had the opportunity to learn. Over time, participation and enthusiasm waned and I wasn’t able to sustain it. I’ve been thinking seriously about restarting it because I love the solidarity of learning in community even if people are learning different languages (my language is Tamil). I was hesitant about restarting the group because I don’t think I have the energy to put into working on my Tamil and running a group, but now I don’t have to – I’ll just join yours!

For Spanish, two resources I love are and Good luck!

Thanks again for the challenge.


8 Corey July 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, Chitty! There is something about sustaining language learning that is so very hard. It is so exciting at first, isn’t it, but then over time it kind of plateaus and becomes less interesting. I am so happy you joined the Language Challenge 101! And I also hope you will be able to start your community blog again. Maybe now that language-learning is becoming more “in” you will be able to find more people who can stick with it over time? Either way, welcome to this challenge!


9 Lisa July 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I don’t have a family of my own yet, but my boyfriend and I are trying to give this challenge a try as well. I highly recommend 🙂


10 Corey July 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I am so excited that you are joining the challenge, Lisa! What language are you and your boyfriend going to try?

I haven’t tried yet but now I will thanks to your comment. So appreciated! Happy language learning.


11 Shelley July 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

I remember seeing an article in the Seattle Times about El Centro de la Raza and their tamale making classes … could be something you might be interested in doing with the family, especially if it is a bilingual lesson 🙂 and I appreciate what El Centro does for our local Latino community, somewhere you might be able to surround yourself with the language…

Some libraries have Spanish language ‘story times’ too, so that you and your children could join in…learning through simple picture books is a wonderful way to solidify what you’re learning through other sources. Just reading an old familiar picture book that’s been translated (Oso Pardo… by Carle is one that comes to mind) is a fun way to increase your vocabulary.

I second the JLOrozco suggestion, and, take a look at bilingual songs written by Sarah Barchas … very catchy tunes ! I will have to take some time to explore MangoLanguages (through our library) in Spanish to see if I will be recommending it to my students (the Chinese section does seem to have very natural/authentic sounding voices/accents which I appreciate)

¡ Buena suerte !


12 Corey July 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Thank you, Shelley, for your comment about El Centro de la Raza! I have been meaning to check them out more but haven’t gotten to it. I am on their mailing list and they are always doing something fabulous in the community.

Thank you for the idea about Spanish language story time! I’m sure my shy kids will demand that we not go but I’m sure once there they will really enjoy it. I have put it on my list of activities for one of these coming weeks.

So appreciative for the additional recommendation of Sarah Barchas music. We definitely need some catchy tunes!

Yes, check out Mango Languages – as it is free to try out via the library you can get an idea of it. It is pretty straightforward and pleasant. It doesn’t have any visual element (other than text) which I personally respond well to. Where do you teach?


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