They say that the best way to learn Spanish is to practice it with other people.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done. It’s especially true if you’re not in a class or a Spanish-speaking community or your friends are just not interested. So, why not learn with the people you live with—your family?
There are 400 million or so Spanish speakers worldwide, making it the second or third most spoken language behind Mandarin and English, depending on how you count. Besides being able to communicate with more people at home or abroad, learning Spanish can give you and your children a competitive edge in the workforce, making it a great skill to have.
Learning Spanish as a family not only creates an educational environment in the home, it’s also a great bonding experience. Instead of leaving family members behind, everyone can attend classes together, go on immersion trips out of the country and enjoy shared activities.
When you learn Spanish with your family, you also have people to practice with and people to motivate you to accomplish your goals. Here are some of the best ways to learn Spanish as a family—with tons of options so that no one gets left out!
Activities to Do at Home Together
Have Spanish night
One of the reasons so many people learn English as a second language is because of a genuine interest in movies, music and the culture behind the language. The same is true for people wanting to learn Spanish as a second language.
So embrace the culture by hosting a Spanish night and enjoy the rich history, delicious food, art, music and movies of your Spanish speaking country of choice.
Pick a new country each time! For Spain, dress in Spanish clothing, decorate the house Spanish-style and eat Spanish food. After a meal of paella and gazpacho, the whole family can settle in to watch Spanish movies or listen to Spanish songs.
The best part about watching movies and playing music is that they not only help you appreciate the culture, they also allow you to test your vocabulary and comprehension.
If you want a more active Spanish night, invite Spanish-speaking families or other families learning Spanish over to play games that encourage you to speak Spanish to each other.
Play games regularly
Seriously, games aren’t only for Spanish night—the learning process is supposed to be enjoyable! If you have young kids, it might even be necessary to make your efforts to learn Spanish as a family fun by playing games regularly with them.
Make-believe games, such as pretending to eat at a restaurante (restaurant) or imagining yourself as a taxista (taxi driver), are sometimes the best learning games since they allow everyone to practice useful vocabulary.
However, there are also board games, such as Spanish Bananagrams or KLOO’s series of games to learn Spanish, like Race to Madrid. Some other options are Spanish Bingo, as well as flashcard matching games. If none of these meet your fancy, there are all kinds of great ideas out there for Spanish games that children will enjoy.
Activities Around Town
Take Spanish classes together
Having a native-speaking instructor guide you through the learning process is ideal. However, taking classes as a family at a Spanish-language institution can get expensive fast. Thankfully, there are plenty of cost-effective options likely available in your local community, such as classes at a community college or through community centers and local libraries.
No matter where you decide to go, make sure you get the most out of the classes by going at least once or twice a week.
If it’s impossible to find days or opportunities that work for everyone in the family, don’t fret. You and your family can always sign up for online classes and study at your own pace. TLC denia is a particularly helpful online program since it has courses for children, teenagers and adults. A program like this allows the whole family to take personalized lessons!
Whether you decide to go with online classes or in-person classes, you’ll want to download language learning apps that personalize learning, such as Duolingo. The extra screen time dedicated to language apps can be used as incentives to get your kids excited to learn Spanish as a family.
Eat at a Spanish restaurant
When learning Spanish, do your best to immerse yourself in the culture. If traveling abroad as a family isn’t an option, take advantage of local restaurants that boast cuisine from Spanish-speaking countries, such as Spain, Mexico, Ecuador or Argentina.
Practice ordering beforehand and get familiar with the vocabulary. Make it a game to see who can go the longest only speaking Spanish. You can also ask each family member to challenge themselves (and practice) by using full Spanish sentences to order their dishes. No menu pointing allowed!
Meet with those that share your passion
Meetups are a great way to connect with new people who are also interested in learning and developing their language skills. Often, it’s possible to find native-Spanish speakers who want to polish their English and are willing to help you and your family with Spanish. You can check Meetup.com for meetups revolving around all sorts of activities in your area.
If you can’t find a meetup, start your own! Check out this group looking to make learning Spanish a family (and community) affair! There are probably like-minded folks near you with the same interests, so don’t be afraid to start your own group if you don’t immediately see one that interests you!
Volunteer (in Spanish)
Volunteering isn’t just limited to other countries; there are plenty of opportunities in local communities to work on your Spanish. Look through websites like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities to volunteer with individuals in your local community who consider Spanish their first (and potentially only) language.
If you’re still learning Spanish, sitting in on sessions can help you build fluency. Though these aren’t going to be formal Spanish lessons, you’ll be surprised by how much you pick up in the process. As you become more confident, your translation skills may be invaluable to organizations looking for volunteers.
Be tourists together
Full immersion in a Spanish-speaking country is by far the best way to learn the language. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. As one might expect, there are several opportunities to travel while learning Spanish.
The most obvious way to do this is by going to a Spanish-speaking country as a tourist. While exploring the region, you can challenge yourself by only speaking Spanish to the locals. They’ll definitely appreciate your attempts to speak their language.
However, when taking the trip as a family, make sure that everyone is getting to participate in the conversation. Often, those who are most confident in their abilities will dominate chats with locals, making it harder for those who are more timid to continue to learn.
Another way to learn Spanish abroad is through volunteering opportunities. The advantage of this is that you’re not only getting something out of it—learning a new language—but you’re also giving back. One great options is through Volunteer Latin America.
This organizations provides numerous opportunities that cater to families looking to work together. However, the typical requirement is that the children be at least 13, so this might not be the best option for young learners. But keep it in mind, and once your little ones aren’t so little anymore, check out this amazing program and think about how much growing you all can do together!
Want a unique way to immerse yourself in the Spanish language? Your whole family can participate in a Spanish language exchange (intercambio), like this American family did in Guatemala. They ended lived with a Maya family for an entire month! The difference between this and a volunteer experience is that an intercambio is purely for immersion. And, since you’re not volunteering, you’re free to explore the country after the lessons.
But that’s not the only way to study as a family! Check out the Family Spanish Program from the Costa Rica Spanish Schools geared towards families that want to study Spanish together. You should also check out Spanish Abroad, Inc., which offers family programs in Antigua, Guatemala and Playa del Carmen, Mexico, as well as summer language camps for kids in Spain. Get your passports ready!
Let’s be honest, learning Spanish as a family will not only be more fun than doing it alone, but it’ll also create stronger bonds between you and your children.
Additionally, giving your children (and yourself) the gift of fluency in a second language will have benefits that will last a lifetime!