I am always looking for covert ways to sneak language learning into my boys life because otherwise they might catch onto the fact that I'm trying to teach them something. As soon as they catch me out there's only a few responses available. Either be honest: Yes I am teaching you Spanish, I taught you English too didn't I? what's the difference? Now answer me in Spanish or breakfast is off... Or there's make them laugh. If I have some energy I can be quite enterprising. The word cosquillas (Spanish for tickle) is invariable funnier than its English translation. Or I can match them huffiness for huffiness until they can't help but laugh at me. There's no point trying to retain any dignity as a mother-teacher. Asked the question (envision it spoken in super-whinge) "Why do I have to say everything in Spanish" I retort "because your mother has had 36 years to perfect being annoying. That's a lot of practice!" and grin at him maniacally. He bursts out laughing and answers the question in Spanish and in good humour.
Sometimes I resort to fairly complex games requiring preparation and thought. Like the balloon popping game we did at Spanish Club. I drew a picture of a dinosaur and sellotaped balloons over it. No mean feat when the kids are popping said balloons... Then I had put the body parts written on small pieces of paper, one in each balloon. Finally I blue tacked safety pins under each balloon. Each child chose a different coloured bean bag (in Spanish of course) to throw at the picture. When they popped a balloon (with a great BANG!) they'd stick the name of the body part to the right bit of the picture. Thereby learning body parts such as garras - claws, dientes - teeth, estomago - belly, etc.
But the best thing I do, and by far the easiest, is leave a Spanish picture book lying around of the breakfast table so they stumble across it. And they often ask me to read it. Peppa Pig se va a Dormir (Peppa Pig Goes to Bed) is a good one at the moment as is El Gato y el Perro (The Cat and the Dog) which is all about friendship. Diez Perros en la Tienda (Ten Dogs in the Shop) is a fantastic read with plenty of repetition and great pictures. We have also enjoyed one kindle book Un Montón de Coches. Anything by Eric Carle seems to work in any language!
The trick is figuring out which books to buy. There is invariably a lack of foreign language books in even the larger libraries, especially children's books, so yes you have to buy. And I often go to Amazon for ideas and prices even though I like to compare elsewhere (eg Casa de Libros). Sometimes the same book is available for far less in euros on Amazon.es than in pounds from Amazon.co.uk, that's even when factoring in the cost of postage. And if you're not fussy, not looking for one particular title, can you can scoop up some real deals. But many kindle books don't seem to be formatted right for use in a classroom context with text spreading out wrongly and I would just pause before pressing the buy button unless you've had a recommendation (or it's super cheap!)
Finally, getting the little man to show off seems to be a winner. Reading a book to him and a friend or his brother and asking him questions brings out the show off in him and he can't help himself but try to answer! And despite his protestations, it turns out that the little guy has been listening to what I've been teaching him!
Spanish Gemma is a mum living in Kings Heath, Birmingham, UK.
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