If you want your children to learn Spanish or another language in which you’re not entirely fluent, you’ve got some options. Ideally, you’d fly to another country and fully immerse yourselves as a family for a year (we can dream!). Or you could hire nannies and tutors, Gwyneth Paltrow style. Live classes and online Spanish lessons are great, too. But one proven way to give our kids some true, immersive Spanish-language exposure: the magic of television.
Television is how generations of immigrants have learned English, so you know it works. I myself became fluent watching Mexican telenovelas (with a little help from my mother, whom I still curse for not just speaking to me in her native tongue when I was younger). Fortunately, our own children have better options than getting caught up in the tales of scheming ex-wives and innocent peasant girls trying to make it in the big city while falling in love with rich playboys. And they have much more children’s bilingual programing than Elmo learning a word or two of Spanish from a guest-star on Sesame Street. Cable, streaming services, and YouTube have brought us so much more in the way of TV shows for kids available in their original Spanish.
The options we list here come from Colombia, Mexico, Spain, and the U.S., and appeal to children from toddlers to teens. What they all have in common is that they offer contextual clues, easy-to-follow stories, and quality entertainment. That’s far more than your typical Spanish textbook or language app can do. What’s more, if you’re not bilingually blessed, you can watch and learn right along with your kids, and practice with them later too.
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