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Learning Spanish Language:
Meals with Mom

I am learning Spanish language. Today's blog post is part of a language learning moms blog carnival. These posts are written by moms, for moms and are intended to be a great resource of encouragement, advice, tips and ideas for language learning moms. If you're a mom or if you know a mom who is a language learner or who would like to be a language learner, please enjoy this post, share it with others and visit the other participating bloggers via the links at the bottom of this post.

Learning Spanish language with my boys

I've been working on learning Spanish language for a while now - like forty years or so. Ha, ha, when I put it that way, it sounds like Moses and the Israelites. Some days it feels like I've been wandering forty years in a foreign language learning desert. That makes it sound like my approach has not been accelerated language learning. Actually, it goes in fits and spurts.

As a small child, we were the only Anglo family living in a Hispanic neighborhood. Everybody around me spoke Spanish. In middle school, I took Spanish. In high school, a Spanish speaking exchange student lived with us. When we weren't fighting about the volume of the TV, I conversed with her in Spanish. Read the whole story here.

Progress has been up and down over the years. As an adult, I've tried multiple language learning strategies. I've read Spanish books. They help increase my vocabulary and build my understanding of grammar.

In the community, at the park, and around town, I gravitate toward Spanish speakers. Maybe I'm a show-off. I speak to them in Spanish. It feels good to practice. But I have the same conversation every time:

"Hi, I'm learning Spanish."

"Oh, you speak very well, where did you learn?"

"I had some Mexican neighbors. I was trying to teach them English, but I ended up learning Spanish language more than they did English language."

We laugh. We commiserate about how hard it is to learn English--I wonder if it truly is harder than learning Spanish language. I ask, yet again, how to say "swings" or "slide" or any nearby object. Eventually, we drift on to other activities.

Last week, the neighbors' car wouldn't start. I taxied them to the bank, the junk yard, the school. We chatted in Spanish. I learned a few new words, remembered several that I'd forgotten, and received a couple of grammatical corrections. Afterwards, she brought me a book: a big tome of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Boring! I promised to read it in the evenings after the children are asleep. Yeah, right. I'll use it if I need a sleeping pill.

I want my children to learn a second language. When my now five-year-old was first learning to talk, I taught him dozens of Spanish words. He picked them up quickly. I was pleased that it was so easy for him. Eventually, he sorted out the difference between Spanish and English. Then he said, "Talk to me in English, mom." Gulp.

With child number two, I'm trying again. I think that the mistake I made with child number one was I only taught him isolated words. I didn't converse with him. My perfectionist nature told me that my Spanish wasn't good enough to talk to him all day long. Perhaps I gave up too easily.

I started Spanish emersion lunches with my two year old. Every day, when we sit down at our kitchen table for lunch, I talk to him in Spanish. I hope to give him the gift of learning Spanish language. I want him to have a lifelong skill. After only a few days of thesse meals with mom, my little one had a surprisingly good understanding. When I'd ask him a question in Spanish, he'd respond appropriately in English. After a few days, he started repeating a few of the new Spanish words.

He's still in that window of first language acquisition. His mind is sticky. New words stick in his brain like sand on drying glue. But the glue is just about dry. Last week, I prattled at him in Spanish while we waited for the neighbor in the junk yard. He said, "Talk like dis." He scrunched up his face, used his fingers to contort his lips as if to wipe away learning Spanish language. He said, "No in Spanish. Talk like dis." What? Is it is already too late? Has the language learning window already closed?

The purpose of this post is to illustrate several language learning strategies. I've been working on learning Spanish language most of my life. I've made slow but continuing progress along the way. I continue to try to improve my speaking and listening skills. The path to mastery is not always easy. I tire along the way, but after a short rest, I get back to work.

Yesterday, my older son asked to listen to church services in Spanish. Services are given in English, and simultaneously translated into Spanish. Spanish speakers can listen to headphones to hear the translation. My boys and I donned headphones for the service. The older one kept them on for about two thirds of the service. Success. There is still an opening in that language learning window. I'll continue with my efforts to learn Spanish language and to teach it to my two boys.

Foreign Language Learning Tips

Here are my top foreign language learning tips:

  • Build a dialog: create a simple dialog, "Hi. I'm learning Spanish language. Can you help me out? I need to practice." "Where are you from?" "How long have you been here?" Include one or two ways to expand your vocabulary: "Can you tell me the name of this object?" The Walkabout Langauge Learning Action Guide will help you create dialogs that meet your language needs. Click here to download it now.
  • Talk: to as many people as you can. When you meet some who speaks your target language: talk. Learn a simple dialog that you can try out with any new person that you meet.
  • Read: check out children's books from the library. The short sentences and easy vocabulary will give you basic skills. As your skills improve, look for increasingly harder books.
  • Teach your children: speak to them in your target language. Even if your skills aren't perfect. You can open the door to a new language. They can build on your imperfect knowledge as they grow.
  • Set aside time: learning a new language takes time. Target specific times to practice. I set aside a certain time of day for language learning: meals with my little one. I also practice learning Spanish language by attending my church's Spanish Sunday school class.
  • Persist: return again and again to your language learning strategies. (Even if it takes you forty years. Grin.) Talk. Read. Talk.
  • Celebrate: your successes. As you improve, take time to notice how much you've learned. Give yourself a pat on the back, a note in your journal, or enjoy a bowl of ice cream.

Read More

Thanks for reading and be sure and stop by these other great posts:

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Hello, I too am learning Spanish, slowly ;) but I am most interested in how to set up what is needed at our church to receive Spanish speaking folks. …

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Hi There, You offer here great tips for learning a new language, even with kids. I have a daughter myself so I will learn and teach more with her. …

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