My Children Won’t Speak Spanish. What Do I Do?

My Children Won’t Speak Spanish. What Do I Do?

If this sounds all too familiar, here are our 5 solutions for your family.

By: Aimelin S.

One of the best gifts you can give your children is helping them be bilingual. Language should be treated as a family heirloom, and speaking more than one language offers many advantages.

However, the more pressure you put on them to speak your native language, the more rebellious your kids may become. If this happens to you, you’re not alone. We have all been there too, and here are ways we’ve found to encourage speaking Spanish.

1. Prioritize Naturally
Try to gradually introduce words or short phrases in your conversations. Never try and teach them with long sentences, complex ones or idioms. It may feel a little bit like Spanglish, but it will get them thinking in both languages.

2. Talk About What They Love
Know your children’s pastimes and passions, and teach them words related to their favorite hobbies. It is likely they will be encouraged and want to learn more.


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3. Don’t Make it Hard on Them
Train their ear for music and use catchy little words, phrases and rhymes. Facilitate their learning through body language and cognates. If they forget what a word means or don’t understand you, no need to punish them. Just remind them and move on.

4. Make Your Language the Only Option at Home or with Granny
Grandmas are very important, but non-English speaking ones may be even more important. Going back to our home country every year is not an option for many of us so we must take advantage of having abuela around — and maybe leave your children in her care from time to time.

5. Expose Them
If you have the privilege of traveling back to your home country, do it. Another option is to take your children to activities at the library or to play dates with other children that speak your native tongue. Children teach themselves through assimilation and, in those types of situations, are not afraid of making mistakes — which is why they learn faster than adults.

Do not give up. Try and try again. It is the greatest treasure they could inherit from you, and they will thank you for the rest of their lives (even if they don’t right now).

What do you do to get your children to speak your native language?

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