Having taken a gamble last autumn to join a Spanish learning group with the children, I am ever more convinced of the benefits of learning a language at a young age. Children are like sponges and the best time for learning a language is when doing so is easy – when they are very young. With that in mind I wanted to share my must have resources for little language learners. These are all things that we have used in our classes or together at home.
Music – Children learn (and remember!) really well when they can move and associate the words they are learning with movement. In the songs we sing at our Spanish group there is a lot of movement. Much of it is based on Makaton style sign language, so a lot of it is quite inutuitive anyway for children.
We sing songs saying hello and goodbye. Songs about fruit, songs about the days of the week and songs about the farm. A fabulous resource for songs and the accompanying lyrics is Rockalingua. Rockalingua really is a brilliant site that has a host of catchy songs that are easy to remember, and most importantly, are great fun to sing.
I posted a video a few months back of Mr D singing along to one of these videos. What I like about Rockalingua is that each song has an accompanying sheet that has the lyrics on; these are great for older children who can read as well as younger children like my own who can use the pictures as prompts for the words to the songs. There are also videos and games (we like the Frutas video) which bring a lot of fun to language learning. At the end of this post there is a discount code for Rockalingua and it’s really good fun to try.
Another great online resource that we find is well used is Dinolingo. We have a year long subscription to this via a Home Education group. Dinolingo has six 30 minute videos focussing on a number of topics (food, family, animals etc) and they are presented by an animated dinosaur. I really like these as they are engaging and fun and the children regularly ask to watch dinolingo. These work well, I think, as each video is reasonably repetitive. It builds up the vocabulary and repeats it; meaning it is remembered and recalled by the children.
For us, keeping langauge learning fun is key; playing games is a good way of doing this. We use a range of Orchard Toys games for things like number and colour games. Games like counting caterpillars are brilliant for number and colour learning and another favourite is Farm Snap for learning the animals in Spanish. There are many applications for games beyond their original idea and the children love playing their games in Spanish of English. We also like playing Spanish cafes – this is where we order our food in Spanish or, more accurately, the ‘waiters’ throw random foods at you whilst shouting them in Spanish.
Twinkl has a wide range of resources; including colouring sheets and word mats. We use these a lot (and I use them too for my own learning!). The word mats are great for visual learners and we have a couple printed out to display. It’s really worth a look around the Twinkl site for language related resources as there is an awful lot there, and there is also the added benefit of being able to make and design your own resources.
And, of course, as you might expect, I find books to be enormously beneficial for learning languages. There are some wonderful books that are emerging on the market at the moment – be it books like the one shown below, The Enchanted Forest, or picture dictionary style books.
Now that my own Spanish is improving I am more confident at reading out loud to the children so I am beginning to look for some story and picture books in Spanish to share with them. We have two that should arrive in the next week or s, these are old copies published by Berlitz that have both the Spanish and the English and come with an audio CD. We have read stories at our group and the children have been really engaged. It’s hard to understand how they stay so enthralled and engaged in a story when they don’t understand the majority of the text but they really do love them and even better they are able to recount the stories to me (in English) and pick up new bits of language along the way.
Also, always keep an eye out in charity shops for old language books – it’s amazing what you can find sometimes. Also, take a look at Book Depositry – there are some brilliantly priced books on there (some from just £2.50).
As the children get older we may well look for another Spanish tutor as I know our current tutor doesn’t tutor past primary age. I’m not entirely sure where to start on this but I think using a site such as Tutoo might help – I like the idea of having a quick way to locate tutors close by and to get a bit of a background about them too.
Have you ever found a Spanish tutor? How did you find them? Also, what other resources do you use for your own little language learners? Look out for a post next week where I share some reflections on learning Spanish as an adult and some of the resources that I’ve found useful
If you like the sound of Rockalingua you can sign up using the code LETTHEMBE to recieve a 25% discount on your subscription.