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Even if you’re not about to stamp those passports any time soon, there is no better time than the present to start your children learning a second language like Spanish. Not only might you have extra hours that need filling with a new project, but learning Spanish is so much easier the earlier you begin. Plus, it’s actually really fun to learn another language, and if you’re not already fluent, you and your kids can learn together.
I know from experience that this is a language learning does not reward procrastinators. My immigrant parents were part of a generation that valued assimilation over bilingual parenting, so I failed to learn Spanish from my mom when I was little. By the time I was in high school and she saw how hard it is for older children and teens to learn a second language, she greatly regretted her choice. The logical option for us was to supplement my education with telenovelas. We swapped out General Hospital for tales of peasant girls being seduced by rich land owners, who happen to be the sons of scheming matriarchs. Maybe this is not the example you want to follow when it comes to teaching your children Spanish.
Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since second-language learning consisted of boring textbooks and maybe a box set of cassette tapes (if you were lucky!). Today, dozens of programs are available that use scientifically proven methods to teach children all sorts of subjects using games, immersion, one-on-one instruction, augmented reality, and more. The study of language instruction has become advanced and probably rather profitable, though many of the options we list here are free or inexpensive.
Even after all that science, it’s still true that the best time for children to learn Spanish is when they’re very young. Those pliable brains are built to add on new vocabulary words every second, and they can just as easily absorb words from other languages, too. In this list, we’ve included several options that appeal to younger learners. But it’s also not too late for your older children. There are plenty of engaging apps and courses that will immerse tweens, teens, and young adults en español totalmente. We have no guarantees that they’ll be sounding like Univision newscasters by the end of these classes, but who knows?
If you don’t speak the language yourself, we certainly recommend staying in the room for these courses in which adults and children learn Spanish online and off. After all, if kids are the best at learning a second language, maybe you’ll do best by putting yourself in a younger frame of mind.
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