Language Challenge 101 – Final Week

by Corey · 1 comment

Here are the steps that my family recommends for learning Spanish as a family:

Phase One:

  • Books & DVDs. If you are lucky (like we are in the Seattle area) then your library is full of books and DVDs in Spanish.  If you can find bilingual books (ones in Spanish and your language) that is the best – this will help you better understand the Spanish.  But books just in Spanish are fun as well, you just have to be more patient with yourself.  As for the DVDs, Spanish language-learning DVDs aimed at kids (the are a ton!!) are fine as long as they aren’t boring.
    • Activity: Once you have the books and DVDs at home, just start reading the words in the books and watching the DVDs together with your kids.  No, do not put your kids in front of the DVDs and walk away, at least not until they understand much of the language.  Make this interactive!  If your child is bored with a DVD, then that is a sign that you should shut it off.  Human interaction is far better than digital media any day!
  • YouTube: The best place to start with is searching for the name of some children’s programs that you know are kid-friendly (Caillou, Pocoyo, etc.) and then typing “en Español” after the name of the show (for example, type in “Pocoyo en Español”).
    • Activity: This should be an interactive activity with you and your child.  Feel free to pause it, if your child doesn’t get too annoyed, and repeat some phrases that you understand.  Don’t do this with a “teacher” voice.  Do it with an excited, “hey, that’s a phrase we know!” voice.  You are participating in language learning together.

Phase One Overview: I’d recommend that you stick with this (Books, DVDs and YouTube) for a good few weeks – at least 3 or 4.  Get used to the language.  Fall in love with it.  Have fun with it.  Get used to shaping your mouth to pronounce the new sounds.  Use words you are learning daily:  Say “gracias” and “buenos dias” and “buenos noches” and all those other great phrases as often as possible.  Then add in colors (look them up online) and use them whenever you can.  And then start adding in whatever other sets of words you’d like.

Once you feel that you and your family are getting tired out of this phase, then here are some DVDs and CDs that you might want to consider purchasing:

  • Speekee: I have mentioned the DVD product Speekee a few times in our video diaries.  My family and I really like this program – I highly recommend it.  My kids have asked to watch these DVDs over and over again for years.  The catch is that the DVDs are only in the PAL format so make sure your DVD player is region-free if you don’t live in the UK.
    • Activity: Use Speekee interactively.  Have the pause button in your hand and use it!  Pause the scene, repeat what is being said on the screen and try to embellish even more if you can by turning statements into questions and vice versa.  Watch the DVDs again and again with your family and take advantage of the CD!
  • Whistlefritz: These are also immersion DVDs are a ton of fun.  The main character, Maria, is very engaging and my kids have learned a lot of Spanish from them.  These are our second favorite after Speekee.  I liked these DVDs so much, I asked the owner if she could offer a discount for Multilingual Living readers and she agreed.  Just enter the discount code “MLL” when you make a purchase and you will get a 5% discount!  Plus, you will be helping support Multilingual Living since Whistlefritz will give some of those earnings to Multilingual Living.
    • Activity: Use these the same as recommended above for Speekee.  Make it interactive!  Mimic the same activities and silliness of Maria after you are done watching the DVD.
  • Bilingual Fun: These DVDs are a little more funky as they are less polished as Speekee and Whistlefritz, yet they shine in real-life charm that my family and I really appreciate!  In the DVDs, Jennifer Manriquez and her husband lead children through a variety of Spanish learning episodes which provide a wealth of vocabulary, songs and more.  As with Whistlefritz, I contacted Jennifer and she is offering Multilingual Living readers a 10% discount and will pass on some of the proceeds to Multilingual Living.  To get your discount, email her with your purchase and tell her that you hear about the discount here.
    • Activity: Just as with the other two DVDs above: watch this DVD interactively with your kids.  Pause all of the time and let your kids really get into the Spanish lessons together with the kids in the DVD.  It is the next best thing to actually being in a children’s Spanish language class.
  • Sing-A-Lingo: I review this in today’s video diary.  Check it out to learn more about this program.
    • Activity: Use this throughout the day.  You may get sick of the same songs and activities day after day but your kids most likely won’t – and repetition is what language learning is all about.  However, it is also not bad to put aside the CD for a few weeks and then come back to it again with renewed vigor.  Don’t put up all of the labels at the same time!  Do maybe 4-5 every few days, learn them as well as you all can, and then put up the next 4-5.  This will spread things out and give some real vocabulary learning!

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