​​RAISING Spanish-speaking Children: Best Tips and Spanish Chunks to use

RAISING CHILDREN IN SPANISH: Essential Tips and Spanish Chunks

Are you a Spanish native speaker or a Spanish learner, and would like to teach your child Spanish? 

Learn in this video the best Spanish chunks to teach your children, and some amazing tips to make sure your child grows up bilingual. 

I’m Maura, Spring Spanish teacher and here is your first scenario: 

ACTOR 1
¿Quieres este o este?
(Do you want this one or this one?)

¿Este? Vale. ¡Cuídalo! Vámonos. 
(This one? Ok. Take care of it! Let’s go.)

1. Verbs to ask questions

So, in that little role-play, you can already see our first question in action: ¿Quieres? (Do you want?). Use: ¿Quieres más? (Do you want more?) if what you want to know is if they want more food, for example. Or add a verb ending in R after it, to ask about anything they might want to do, like: 

  • ¿Quieres comer? (Do you want to eat?)
  • ¿Quieres dormir? (Do you want to sleep?)
  • ¿Quieres jugar? (Do you want to play?)

Another useful verb to ask similar questions with, would be: ¿Tienes? (Do you have?). Es especialmente importante porque se aleja del inglés. (It’s especially important because it drifts from English.) Notice how most of these questions would be asked with the verb “to be” in English. 

  • ¿Tienes hambre? (Are you hungry?)
  • ¿Tienes sueño? (Are you sleepy?)
  • ¿Tienes sed?  (Are you thirsty?)
  • ¿Tienes miedo?  (Are you afraid?)

Lastly, taking your child’s age into consideration, try to play around with question words, like this:

ACTOR 1A
¡Hola! Llegué. ¿Cómo está mi nena?
(Hello! I’m home. How’s my baby doing?)

ACTOR 2
(Crying)

ACTOR 1A
¿Qué pasa? ¿Por qué lloras?
(What’s going on? Why are you crying?)

ACTOR 2
(Points to the TV)

ACTOR 1B
¿Otra vez?
(Again?)

ACTOR 2
(Nods)

ACTOR 1B
¿Cuál quieres?
(Which one do you want?)

ACTOR 2
(Hides under the covers)

ACTOR 1B
¿Dónde está Samanta?
(Where is Samantha?)

Chunk Alert!

¿Cómo está mi nena? (How is my baby doing?) is an indirect, very common way to ask children what’s up with them. I know you do this in English as well, so just know it is as natural in Spanish. Take into account that nena is feminine. Use nene for masculine. Substitute “nena” for any other pet name like: bebé (baby), chiquita or chiquito (little one), amor (love) y sé naturalmente cariñosa o cariñoso en español (and be naturally loving in Spanish.) 

The link in the description gives you access to our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit, where you’ll surely be able to find more useful chunks to use with your children, since it’s filled with the most common ones.    

2.  Chunks to use at home

ACTOR 1A
¡Buenos días! Hora de levantarse. Cepíllate los dientes y ven a desayunar.
(Good morning! Time to get up. Brush your teeth and come to breakfast.)

Hora de… (Time to…) is a very useful chunk to indicate many different moments of the day. You only need to add a verb after, usually ending in R. As in:

  • Hora de cenar. (Time for dinner.)
  • Hora de ducharse. (Time to shower.)
  • Hora de recoger. (Time to tidy up.)
  • Hora de irnos. (Time to go.)

ACTOR 2
Toma. Dame el teléfono. Gracias.
Vístete y recoge tus juguetes, por favor. 
(Take this. Give me the phone. Thank you. Get dressed and pick up your toys, please.)

By the way, make sure to stick until the end if you want to know a few funny chunks you can use to keep your child feeling entertained and free in Spanish. Además de los consejos para enseñarles español que tenemos para ti. (In addition to the tips for teaching them Spanish that we have for you.)

Back to our role play, the verbs toma y dame (take and give) are easily used on their own and go a long way into solving many situations, including craving love from your child by saying things like: dame un abrazo (give me a hug) or dame un beso (give me a kiss). 

Other sweet things you can say to your child could be:

ACTOR 1B
Buenas noches. Dulces sueños. Te amo.
(Good night. Sweet dreams. I love you.)

3. Courtesies 

Before we get to the funny chunks, let’s go through a few courtesies that will keep your child, well, cordial, in Spanish as much as in English. Apart from gracias (thank you) and por favor (please) which you can find in the previous sections. También podrías enseñarles: (You could also teach them:)

  • De nada. (You’re welcome.)
  • Con permiso. (Excuse me.)
  • Disculpa o lo siento. (I’m sorry.)
  • Buen provecho. (Enjoy.)
  • Salud. (Bless you/cheers.)

Notice that we say salud both after sneezing and when cheering. You can teach them both!

4. Funny chunks

ACTOR 1
¡Guácala! Eso es caca. Déjalo.
(Gross! That’s a no. Leave it!)

All right, so, let’s get real for a second. Guácala isn’t really a word. It’s a colloquial expression to say: iugh or gross. Caca is an informal, colloquial translation of “poop”, but we don’t only use it for that. With children, we tend to use it like I did. Esencialmente para decir: no toques eso. (Essentially to say: don’t touch that.)

Also, it’s a good idea to relate Spanish to anything that they find fun or exciting. The word qué (what) is very useful for this. So, you may use chunks like the following:

  • Qué divertido. (How fun.)
  • Qué gracioso. (How funny.)
  • Qué emoción. (How exciting.)

Another thing you can do is use their interests to your advantage. Enseñándoles los colores, si les gusta dibujar, por ejemplo. (Teaching them colors, if they like to draw, for example) María Fernanda made a whole video about colors that can help you out with that. But, you can start with the basics like:

  • Amarillo (Yellow)
  • Azul (Blue)
  • Rojo (Red)
  • Negro (Black)
  • Blanco (White)
  • Verde (Green)

O tal vez les encantan los animales. (Or maybe they love animals.) María Fernanda also has a video on animals, you can check for this. Meanwhile, you could start with:

  • Gato (Cat.)
  • Perro (Dog.)
  • Pájaro (Bird.)
  • Pez (Fish.)

5. Advice

Our first advice to help you teach Spanish to your child would be to stick to one parent, one language, if this applies to you. Or, you can link it to both parents, leaving the child to learn the country's language at school. Lo importante es que no mezcles los idiomas y las fuentes. (The important thing is that you don’t mix the languages and the sources.) 

Another advice for teaching English to your children would be to link the language to a specific person beyond the parents. Puedes contratar a una persona que hable español y que te ayude a cuidarlos o que venga a enseñarles el idioma un par de horas a la semana. (You can hire a Spanish-speaking person who either helps take care of them or comes to teach them the language a couple of hours a week.)

An alternative to this would be to link the new language, Spanish in this case, to a place instead of a person. Es decir, una habitación de la casa donde solo se hable español. (Meaning, a room of the house where only Spanish is spoken.) You can check the description of this video to find some references for this advice and more. 

Lastly, it would be very common for the child to rebel against the new language. For those cases, our advice includes:

  • Always answer in Spanish, even if the child switches to English. 
  • Pretend to not understand when the child speaks English.
  • Richard Simcott’s tip: Él le habla en alemán a su hija y cuando ésta le responde en inglés, él contesta: “Qué pena, tenía una sorpresa para ti, pero sólo en alemán”. (He speaks in German to his daughter and when she answers in English, he replies: “Oh too bad, I had a surprise for you, but only in German.”)

All right, for a little bit of practice, try translating the following to Spanish. Leave it in the comments, and I’ll make sure to check them!:

  • How funny!
  • Are you hungry?
  • Do you want to play?
  • Time to go to bed.

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