Create Your Spanish Sanctuary
At MamaLingua, we emphasize learning through context in our daily lives and routines with our kids. In fact, we often talk to parents about choosing their “Spanish Sanctuary.” Assuming you’re speaking English (or another language) most of the time at home, we think of a Spanish Sanctuary as the dedicated location and time for practicing and speaking only in Spanish. This strategy is a great way for learning language in context.
Our lives as parents with little ones is pretty predictable and repetitive, which makes it perfect for language learning – both for us and for them. Studies indicate that learning in context, in a familiar environment, helps us encode information and access it more readily. Designating your Spanish Sanctuary at home is likely to get you learning and retaining information more easily than sitting down with a book or working through language units in an app. It’s also a practice you can gear to your own level and progress, steadily replacing keywords and phrases during your day, or switching locations to learn a new set of vocabulary words. It also turns out a child makes a great practice partner – they don’t care how you sound and love you even when you mess up.
For many of us in the MamaLingua community, the goal of integrating a second language into our lives isn’t necessarily to become fluent. Instead, the goal is to give our kids a foundation in another language and to learn together in our daily lives. In the same way that we help our kids get started in reading, writing and math, we want to help them get started learning a second language, too.
But while most of us can help with basic academics, it can be challenging to introduce a new subject that you yourself are just beginning to learn. But your kids learn from you, and establishing an environment for language learning at home is the first step. With your involvement, you could see your child transition into a school that supports bilingual education, such as an immersion or dual language program.
Committing to learning Spanish is a lot like committing to a healthy lifestyle. Of course, kiddos sometimes resist the introduction of new habits – just like they do new vegetables. Our advice? Remember that you’re crucial to the learning process – and consistency is key.
For me, the kitchen is my favorite Spanish Sanctuary. Because everyone is in there daily, the kitchen provides a built-in set of routines and becomes its own classroom. Children and partners can quickly adapt because it’s a familiar, defined place set for Spanish. (And they’re also motivated by food!) Unless your kids decide to skip dinner, there’s no escaping this everyday educational practice.
Ready to get started? Download the MamaLingua app, go to “Eating and Drinking,” and create your own Spanish Sanctuary.