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When it comes to helping your child learn Spanish there are many options to choose from between various kinds of online learning and various types of Spanish lessons in person. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s best to use more than one kind of lesson option to get the best results. Each child responds differently to methods and learning environments depending on their personality and learning styles. Online learning has many benefits and is an excellent supplement to other lessons that may be done outside the home. Ultimately, the more variety of learning experiences you can provide for your child the higher the likelihood that they will one day become fluent.
Spanish for Kids
Spanish Lessons area of focus for both online learning and in person Spanish lessons or tutoring
Whether you are considering learning Spanish online or classes for your child or both online and traditional lessons there are certain elements that are important to create a comprehensive and quality program. Spanish lessons for kids online or in person should focus on the following elements and often mastered in the following order.
- Listening comprehension
- Reading and writing
- Speaking and communication
By taking advantage of various programs both online learning and traditional Spanish lessons you compensate for strengths and weakness in individual programs. Where one program is strong another may be weak and by using more than one you fill in gaps that you may be missing.
Online Spanish lessons versus Spanish lessons in person or tutoring
Children can begin learning Spanish by either learning online or by taking lessons in a class at a school or tutoring. Learning online and learning in classes both have advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of online learning include the ability to learn privately without embarrassment and provide a non-threatening environment to work in. Learning Spanish in a class is usually more stressful since most learners may feel apprehensive if they mispronounce words, use the wrong words or create a sentence grammatically incorrect. Learning online is usually more convenient because it is normally done in the comfort of your home.
Online learning most typically is less costly and allows the person to engage in the language daily for a fraction of the cost of classes or tutoring. Private tutoring lessons generally cost about $50 dollars per hour as compared to online Spanish lessons which can vary anywhere from free to perhaps $100 dollars per program worth many hours of study.
Online learning also is usually very well planned and organized. If the program is of good quality then every lesson has been carefully planned to guide the learning into mastering a particular goal and also to gradually lead the learner into more advanced levels of Spanish little by little. Traditional classes may lack continuity with what students learned in previous years because the teachers vary or because the level of other students may vary. Teachers tend to repeat basics over and over because they are unsure where the students stand as a whole and therefore never advance into more complicated areas of language. While tutoring has the opportunity for individualized learning it may be the least organized of all and certainly the most expensive of all. Depending on the qualification of the tutor and experience, the focus of the lessons can be vague, unclear and lacking in direction.
Learning Spanish in a class or lessons with a tutor have the advantage of a more authentic communicative environment. Students and teachers interact with each other in more natural way when the program is well designed and conducted mostly in Spanish. It is disheartening to realize that many teachers do not understand how to teach and create lessons that keep instruction in Spanish at least 90% of the time without translating. Less than 90% of the class being taught in Spanish begins to diminish any advantage that it may have over well-organized online Spanish learning.
Methods and Ways for learning Spanish for kids
Let’s take a look at some methods and ways that kids learn Spanish. These methods can be incorporated in online Spanish lessons or in a classroom atmosphere. Spanish for kids must be creative and fun so that kids will learn to love the language and what it means to learn it.
Learning Spanish for kids using pictures and direct association
Using pictures to learn Spanish vocabulary and to create a setting for communication is probably the most important element for kids to learn Spanish most naturally and without translation. By using pictures instead of translations kids make a direct association between the images to the words and ideas in Spanish.
Learning Spanish for kids using TPR
TPR stands for Total Physical Response. The method is attributed to James J. Asher and can be a complete method on its own. For most generally uses though it is basically using action and motions that directly relate to words, phrases or ideas in the target Language. For example the word “Correr / to run” would be associated with doing the action of running.
Learning Spanish for kids using songs
Songs are a fun way to get kids familiar with Spanish. If the song is presented well with pictures, video and listening comprehension exercises, kids can benefit quickly in many different ways. Songs have a way of lingering in the memory for many years giving them a preferred place among methods used for kids.
Learning Spanish for kids using Theater / plays / acting
Kids love acting! Acting out plays that are at an appropriate level of difficulty for students help make this experience one they will cherish for a lifetime. Ideally plays about familiar loved stories are best because they help students feel confident about the characters and what they are learning.
Learning Spanish for kids using books
Similar to plays, books are enjoyed greatly by kids. When books are presented well, and at a level that can be appreciated by the audience, much can be learned without too much effort. Many classic stories use beautiful pictures to help students understand the storyline, and often children’s stories have a repetitive nature which really drive home a certain idea.
Learning Spanish for kids using phonics
Phonics are often overlooked these days, but from a classical perspective they are very useful especially in Spanish. Spanish follows phonemic rules much closer than English and is particularly useful for accurate reading and spelling for young learners.
Learning Spanish for kids using videos
Videos that can be useful are those that tell classic stories that perhaps may already be familiar with the kids. Real life videos that show culture are useful for making the language come to life.
Learning Spanish for kids using poetry
Poetry, much like acting, provides an opportunity to perfect reading and pronunciation skills. Culture can be taught from classic poems, and if presented, students have an opportunity to practice being more confident using the language in front of others.
Learning Spanish for kids using history, science and geography
History, geography and science provide excellent opportunities to teach students in an immersive environment. This is truly and immersive environment when students are learning about something else in the target language.
Learning Spanish for kids online lessons
Online learning lessons from a quality program have outstanding benefits especially when used in combination with other methods or classes. It is not necessary for the online learning program to be from the same company as a textbook from class or to be necessarily coordinated with what is happening in a classroom / tutoring setting. When the real true goal is to learn a language then all contact with the language is another step closer to fluency. If in a class the lesson topic is food, and in online learning you happen to be studying animals then great, when you study animals in class you are a step ahead, and when you study food learning online then it can be reinforced.
Places for kids to learn Spanish
Spanish lessons for kids in public schools
In some areas of the United States, Spanish is offered as a special class in elementary public schools. The class generally meets ½ hour per week.
Spanish lessons for kids in private schools
Private school vary in how much Spanish or other foreign languages they offer. Generally speaking they do offer Spanish and it is generally more significant than what is offered at the public schools.
Spanish lessons for kids in bilingual schools
Bilingual schools are becoming more popular. These school generally teach children ½ of the curriculum and ½ of the time in Spanish and the other half in English.
Spanish lessons for kids in international schools and abroad
International schools can be found around the globe. While the languages vary, they generally teach the main curriculum in English but have significant instruction in foreign languages. Special focus in on the language from the country you are located in.
Spanish lessons for kids in after school programs
Some schools offer extracurricular programs and classes after school and Spanish is sometimes an offering. In larger cities you may be able to find private school that specialize in Spanish classes that can be taken outside of school hours, on the weekends or in the summer.
Spanish lessons for kids with a tutor
Tutors are a popular way to help students learn Spanish. Tutors generally help in one of two ways. The tutor may help the child with homework or information that is covered in a class or the tutor might be the sole instructor and teacher that creates lessons for the individual child. Online tutors are becoming more popular. Students connect with a tutor long distance using Skype or other video conferencing. This method is less popular with children but may provide more options for tutor choice and program.
Spanish lessons for kids in summer camps
In some areas of the country you can find summer Spanish camps for kids. Kids spend a week with other students their age and engage in all kinds of fun filled activities, games and songs in Spanish.
Spanish lessons for kids abroad
Some private language schools in Spain or other Spanish speaking countries offer classes for foreign students that are elementary age over the summer. The camps or classes are generally a coming together of students from their country that want to learn English and the foreign students that wants to learn Spanish.
Spanish lessons for kids participating in missions
Some families participate in missions often associated with their churches or other organizations.
Spanish lessons for kids online
Online Spanish for kids is offered from apps or websites in a variety of formats and varying levels of difficulty. Activities vary from one program to another but usually Spanish is presented in an interactive format where students respond to questions either by clicking on pictures or words, choosing multiple choice answers or giving a typed response.
Learning Spanish for kids with nanny
For working parents with enough money to spare a nanny is a popular option for young children. A nanny that speaks mostly Spanish provides an easy way to help your child learn Spanish naturally as children in Spanish speaking countries do.
Learning Spanish for kids with bilingual parents
Parents that are bilingual have an obvious advantage in teaching their children Spanish. Sadly many fail because it is still is not easy task. Bilingual parents that wish to teach their children Spanish must make a strong and clear commitment to always speak to their child in Spanish.
To help your child learn Spanish, there are many opportunities that you can take advantage of depending on your location and financial situation. Any exposure to Spanish, even if it is not enough for fluency, will still be useful even as your child approaches adulthood and wants to continue learning Spanish. If the child was exposed on some level as a child learning as an adult is facilitated. Adults who decide they want to learn Spanish but had no experience with it as child have the toughest job of all. So choose an option that fits your level of commitment, meets your financial abilities and offer your child the gift of Spanish.
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