The task seems daunting, especially for those of us who hail from the solidly English speaking region of northern Minnesota. It’s entirely possible, however, to share an appreciation, passion, and love of language learning with your child, even if you’re not a native speaker of a second language.
I’d love to share a few anecdotes from my own childhood, as well as observations based on my recent experience developing a children’s app in both Spanish and English. The app is called Intro to United States, by Montessorium. The lessons from childhood fall under the category of “my mother”.
I grew up in a very northern European household. Enjoying a plate of lefse wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, and my grandmother was known to use some choice German words when she was upset. However, as I began my journey through school, my mother became determined that I learn Spanish. Her enthusiasm must have been effective, as I later went on to finish a degree in Hispanic Studies, travel through quite a few Spanish-speaking countries, and work as a translator.
Here are a few of her tricks.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in front of your child. My mother wasn’t very good at Spanish, and I took every opportunity to correct her, which in turn helped me practice.
Find a native speaker to help. Even in our small town, we were able to find a lovely Honduran woman willing to assist a young linguist. In fact, those lessons developed into a sort of club at the elementary school!
Incorporate the language wherever possible at home. We often listened to Spanish music, stuck Spanish labels around the house, for example on “el horno” or “la leche”, and found Spanish children’s programs on TV.