Slow and Steady wins the race to bilingualism for kids

By Ricardo Cuevas on August 24, 2012 in Learn Spanish for Kids with 1 Comment

Slow and Steady wins the race to bilingualism for kids

Teaching a bilingual toddler has to be a full court press! When I say a full court press, I mean a full court press. If you’re not familiar with the term full court press, it means that you need to be on your game no matter where the ball is at, no breaks, no breathers. When it comes to teaching Spanish, immersion is important. It’s recognized as a general rule of thumb that in order to develop a bilingual child you need to surround the child in the minority language at least 30% of the time. Of course this is no silver bullet. It doesn’t guarantee a fully bilingual child, but it will sure help you get there. Of course, the more exposure the kids have to Spanish the better. If you want to go to 40% that’s great. 50% even better. 80% Wonderful! The point is that the child needs to live their life in the context of the minority language, in my case, Spanish.

I got a call from a friend a couple of days ago who told me that their child had suddenly refused to speak Spanish, the child actually said the words “I don’t want to speak Spanish!”. Of course my friend felt discouraged by this, this is my same friend who had been having such great success with their child being bilingual. The same friend who a few months ago had told me that their child was “over the hump”. When my friend was speaking I thought of the bible quote that says: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” -1 Corinthians 10:12. Anyone who has a goal, needs to keep that goal in mind at all times and make sure they are working towards that goal. Teaching Spanish is no different. When talking to my friend I mentioned the great success she told me she’d had but a few months ago. Then I asked what had changed, “what have you done differently?”. “Well, I suppose I’d sort of thought the battle was won and we could relax a bit”. “AHA!”, I thought. “I stopped looking for Netflix videos in Spanish Audio”,”I also stopped using the Kid Start Spanish Music CD in the car”. This is a common thing I see all the time, once we feel like we have “achieved” our goal. We let up, and that’s when the majority language completely takes over. In the child’s mind the minority language is no longer important, they will simply follow your lead on this. It’s a natural human tendency to want to “win”, the way we “win” a marathon. But teaching you child Spanish or any other foreign language is not that kind of exercise, it takes a lifelong effort. I know parents of 12 year olds that still make efforts to expose their child to Spanish.

Whether it’s with Kid Start Spanish, Music, Games, DVDs, Netflix, Board games, Online, Websites, Flashcards, Books, Apps or any other means the point is provide a full environment that encourages learning Spanish. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

1 Comment

  1. Jordan mentz

    September 20, 2012 at 7:23 am · Reply

    This is one of the excellent post.Your blog information is classic.I like this post. I think it's great help for those of us teaching a foreign language.

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