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We’re Learning Spanish!


So a couple months ago, I was having a really rough day with the kids. I had a migraine and it’s like Rohan was a shark smelling blood in the water. His behavior was so horrible. Bad language, hitting, defiance, destroying stuff…
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I wanted to punch him. Kai was no better. Whining, and instigating stuff with Ro… And the both of them were so loud and just little menaces.


In a last ditch effort to get them to be rapt for a minute while I got some coffee and hid from them…I turned on Daniel Tiger, which usually works.
Not this time.

They both were just on me. Wrapping around my legs, hitting and pushing each other, pulling at my clothes, whining in that annoying tone…you know the one tone that just slices your patience to shreds….

im gunna kill you

I snapped.

I don’t know where it came from.

I just started buggin out, yelling at them… in Spanish. I walked over to the couch and slapped it with both hands and said Ninos sientate aqui! They legit looked at each other like…um…what the F is going on? and just kinda dawdled in the kitchen, so I shouted AHORRRAAAHHH!!!! and slapped the couch again and again like a crazy lady.

They both ran over and sat their little confused butts on the couch tho. And they were quiet. Stunned to silence no doubt. Eyes big as hell. So, for the rest of the day I just spoke to them in Spanish.
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I’d gesture to let them know what I was saying, and I’d make them repeat what I wanted them to say “por favor” “gracias” etc…

I’m not 100% fluent yet but I’m pretty good. Definitely understand way more than I can say, and that’s mostly confidence-based vs knowledge-based…KWIM?. I’ve learned a good amount from friends and family, school and Guatemala….and living in Washington Heights for years :). But I know enough to get by. Once I’m in a Spanish speaking place it’s like everything I know kinda rushes back into my accessible memory.


Later that day, I really needed a break so I turned on youtube on the TV and just said “learn spanish for kids” into the controller and something I’d never heard of (but now totally love) popped up. Little Pim. Do you know it? I put the kids back on the couch and they watched little pim and repeated the shapes and colors and numbers and whatever little words they were learning with the panda on the screen.  Well… Rohan did. Kaya just watched.

It was actually really amazing to observe Rohan during this. When I was talking to him in Spanish, he was looking in my eyes, at my body sooo intently. You could see him trying to get all the clues of what was going on so he could understand. His gears were totally turning and he was full engaged…it was beautiful.

By the end of the day Rohan was “speaking Spanish” to Kaya. It was gibberish….sounded like “esca dasca esca dasca” over and over with different intonation lol, but it works. He points and gestures while escadasaca-ing and she responds in English with what seems to be the right answer!

Next day, after breakfast I was playing with them as usual and Rohan was like “No mommy, talk spanish.” So I started doing Spanish mornings from there on. We’d be mostly spanish in the mornings until after their nap. I let them watch Little Pim, and we got some Spanish DVDs from the library.

I realized how limited my Spanish is from doing this little exercise with them. I have to look up vocab words a lot and I’m crap at talking in the past tense. I picked up Pimsleur from the library (but honestly haven’t played a single cd yet lol.)

Honestly, over the past month it has waned….I got lazy and eventually Rohan stopped reminding me. It wasn’t until I was planning for my Hispanicize trip that I got my renewed intention to improve my Spanish and teach the kids some more. John knows a little bit of Spanish from friends and his travels to Ecuador but he’s way worse than me so he needs to step his game up too.

So for the kids here’s my plan:

  • Watching: Plaza Sesamo, Little Pim, (and if I can find one of their fave shows in Spanish)
  • Reading: Spanish books from the library (we started this and both kids seem to love it!)
  • Speaking: Talking to them only in spanish at least part of the day (and making them repeat and try too)
  • Listening: I’m going to play spanish music throughout the day (will they love ricky martin too?!)

That’s it for now. I’m not going bucknuts with it. I have no idea how to teach kids Spanish other than letting them get immersed in it like they were with English. #unschool?


I want it to be fun, but I want their ears to get used to Spanish as they memorize some basics. Ro knows his colors and numbers 1-10 in Spanish. Kai is just soaking it in for now.

(When I point to something blue and say Que color es? She’s like “Blue” So I respond “Dime en espanol Kaisy, tell me in Spanish”  She looks at me like I’m slow and says “BLUE” louder.  So…we’ll work on her slowly. lol)

For John and I, my plan is:

We have Rosetta Stone… but… I know myself…. I’m not going to use it right now. (I may let Ro try it instead)

So I figure we’ll listen to the Pimsleur CDs during the day and in the car at random. I’m going to find a telenovela to get sucked into also. And find a great movie in Spanish. (Y Tu Mama Tambien is one of my faves!) That helps me remember how much I actually know.

I look forward to being fluent and truly bilingual. I hope to do the same for my children.

Hablas Espanol?

Any tips, ideas or resources for us?!

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Wednesday 6th of April 2016

This is such a great idea! I don't have children myself, but I have friends who are teaching their kids two languages at home and it's really hard work! Kudos for giving it a try. I grew up in a bilingual home and I think the easiest way to do things is to keep repeating the basic stuff: "May I have some water?" etc, etc. until the kids are comfortable with asking things in Spanish. In my family, the use of the second language in public was a sign of trouble - my mother would 'cuss' us in her native tongue when we were in public, so that others didn't realise she was flipping out :) Do any of the Hispanic embassies/consulates/societies offer language classes? The Venezuelan Embassy offers free Spanish lessons here in Barbados, and friends of mine find that the most successful way to learn a language. Best of luck with this!


Tuesday 5th of April 2016

Sometimes you gotta show 'em crazy not matter what language you're speaking in.

K. Elizabeth

Monday 4th of April 2016

I'm so awful at conjugating Spanish verbs in past tense. I think it's great that you all are learning as a family. Moo really started picking up an interest Spanish watching Dora and Diego on Nick. She also likes Maya and Miguel from ETV/PBS and we've started the Sofia Martinez book series. Of course YouTube is full of video resources and mini lessons for kids and adults.

It sounds like you all are off to a great start and I can't wait to hear more. I'm hoping my little guy becomes interested because right now he just kind of has this "I'm not trying to learn that" attitude whenever I try to get him to speak Spanish. LOL. Fingers crossed that my persistence will pay off.


Monday 4th of April 2016

Try the Duolingo app. Also, I know our local library has online Spanish language programs as well. So you may try that. My son will attend a partial language immersion elementary school this fall. He has some basic knowledge of Spanish: numbers, animals & colors. However, the school's approach will be complete immersion in the language for science and math. So, I think your method of immersion will work.

Once he gets going, I'll happily pass on any tips used by his teachers. We have Rosetta Stone as well, it would be helpful if we used it...


Monday 4th of April 2016

Ok. I absolutely LOVE this. Though I don't Spanish nearly as well as I used to I've been trying to figure out how to raise my child to be bilingual. I've thought about reading books in spanish to my baby boy while he's baking the womb. Of course, my hubby thinks this is ridiculous, but I just might try it next week.

Plus, from all the Zumba I teaching I'm hoping he'll pick up on some spanish cues from all the latin music I've been playing while he's cooking in there.

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