How Monolingual Mothers Can Make a Bilingual Family

SK Language’s plan for mothers, in 4 phases:

Phase 1:  Mother’s Head Start

You should be able to easily recall and pronounce a few dozen vocabulary words, and a few common phrases before beginning to teach your children.  It will take many hours of listening to the language to get ready.  And no, the year of Spanish you took in high school doesn’t count.  Let’s face it: Your Spanish wasn’t very good back then, and since high school it hasn’t gotten any better.

Aim for perfect, native-like pronunciation.

When you are studying, aim to have NO English accent.  You will fall short, and have a cute, little accent.  A cute little accent is adorable and native speakers will love you all the more for it.  I repeat: Try your very best to have NO accent.  If you think it is okay to pronounce everything like it is English, you will end up with an accent that will sound like nails on a chalkboard.

This site has ideas on how to study.

Phase 2:  Fun N Games

Continue your self-study of the language.  Consider ordering a book of words your children can learn, or just find words on the internet.

Now you can get the children involved.  Teach them phrases like:

Where do you live?
What is your name?
How old are you?

Then have a fun activity in which you dress really strangely and go outside knock on the door have children let you in and interview you to be their Spanish nanny.  They may have notecards with questions on them to read aloud.

Verbs

Act out these things together, and then play charades

walk
run
swim
eat
drink
clap

Don’t worry about conjugating them a lot of different ways.

Nouns

Teach them the names of things in your home, like

food – apple, bread, chicken
clothing – shirt, pants, shoes
people – mom, dad, brother, baby
office supplies – paper, pencil, pen
rooms – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom
animals – dog, cat, bird

Have your children pretend they are strangers.  Give them a Spanish tour of your home, while you point out things.  Ask them to go get things, and put those things away.  Put something in a pillow case and have them feel in the pillow case and guess what it is.  Let them do Show-and-Tell by finding at least one thing they know the name of and saying it.

Have them look in magazines for things they know the names of in Spanish.  Cut them out and make a poster.

Play Simon Says.  Tell them to touch things and walk, run and clap.

Adjectives

Don’t be picky about whether the children are correctly making them singular, plural, masculine or feminine. Just aim for them to understand adjectives like:

colors
big, small
hot, cold

Memory Work

Consistent drill is necessary for memorizing things.  For ideas on how to make drill a game see the YouTube channel. Here are suggestions of things to memorize:

days of the week
months of the year
count to 20
traditional songs

Do You Really Have To?

Perhaps you are wondering if you can get an app to teach your children, instead of teaching them yourself.

This is kind of like asking if you can use an app to make your children brush their teeth, listen to a story, and go to bed at 8:00 every night.   Short answer: No.

Phase 3:  Read the Easiest Books

Read aloud to them.  Study with audio beforehand.  Use the easiest books you can find. No, you can’t just play a recording.  For some reason, they will want you to do read it.

If you work on your foreign language 4-6 days a week 40 minutes at a time it may take a year to get to this point.  At this point your children will think they are half fluent.  Lol.  Enjoy their enthusiasm.

And keep up the fun-n-games during this phase.  This is the shortest phrase.  It may last a few months.

Phase 4: Native Speakers

The children should consuming media for native speakers; It’s essential.  Comic strips and very short cartoon clips are easy starts.  When you don’t understand, let it be water off a duck’s back.  When you don’t feel like looking up a word in a dictionary, don’t do it.  Don’t worry about it.

Spend time with native speakers who will speak the language around you.  You will not really be able to converse, but listening will do wonders for your language skills.  Spanish speaking churches are great places to hear Spanish.

If you can find a native speaking  language partner or hire a nice native speaker, to talk to, and read to your family, that would be awesome.

At the beginning of this phase, you (the mom) will be getting tired of leading the fun-n-games, so gradually diminish them (even though your children will not be tired of them).

Transitioning into this phase is awkward. They’ll be so much that you can’t understand. You’ll wish you could hurry up and get fluent already. Learn to be okay with not comprehending things. Don’t take yourselves too seriously.  Enjoy the process.

Enjoy your budding bilingual family

Phase 5: Level Up

Download the app HelloTalk and start communicating with native speakers. The app is free and legit. Start having conversations in Spanish.

Watch Spanish TV shows, movies and/or YouTube videos.

Have the children read books in Spanish.  Some good options are Bible stories, folk tales and fairy tales you already know in English.  Don’t require them to translate or look up words.

In order to make learning more interactive, consider buying a textbook for native Spanish speakers with easy questions for the children to answer.

Doing The Impossible

As my Language partner, Willy, on the app HelloTalk always says:

Anything is impossible.

Lol. He means, “Anything is possible,”

He is an inspiration to me. He learned English to a shockingly high level in only a year. He spent 6-8 hours a day on English to do so.

You can’t dedicate that much time to language learning comfortably. You have housework and errands and so much other stuff to do.  It’s okay to take a couple years to reach basic fluency. If you can carve out half an hour a day, 4-6 times a week, that’s fair enough.  An hour a day would be better.

Taking time to smell the flowers look at turtles in a stream.

 

 

Don’t want to do all this?  It’s okay to stay monolingual.  – This is NOT click bait.

 

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