Sunday, July 21

6 Best Ways For Students to Learn Spanish

Bilingual education provides a host of benefits to students of all ages. Research has associated learning a second language in childhood with flexible thinking abilities and more efficient learning. Children who enroll in a bilingual education program tend to score better on math, logic, and English tests. They are also more likely to learn third and subsequent languages in the future.

If you’re considering a multicultural education for your preschool, elementary, or middle school child, explore for elementary and middle schools and read on to learn the six best ways for students to learn Spanish. These techniques can help set the stage for fluency and spark a lifetime of language enrichment.

1. Connect With Others

Providing opportunities for students to engage in casual conversations with native speakers allows them to practice and enhance their language skills. Children can establish connections with “language mentors” either face-to-face or through online platforms. At the International School of Denver, Spanish educators endorsed by the nation’s Ministry of Education and Science offer authentic native instruction.

While pen pals may seem like a nostalgic tradition from elementary school days, exchanging letters with Spanish-speaking students who respond in English can offer significant learning opportunities for both parties. To modernize this activity, email correspondence can replace traditional mail, leveraging technology as an effective tool for language learning.

2. Make It Fun

Gamification has permeated various aspects of our lives, from nutrition and fitness to foreign language acquisition. Utilizing apps that offer points and rewards as users “level up” by mastering new content can be beneficial for students practicing vocabulary and grammar.

In addition to external motivators like gamified apps, it’s crucial for students to have clear internal motivation for learning a foreign language. Understanding their personal reasons for wanting to learn will provide an essential motivational factor throughout the learning journey.

Incorporating Spanish into leisure activities can also reinforce language skills and encourage practice in a fun and engaging way. During leisure screen time, seek out Spanish-language cartoons, videos, and online games. Watching movies together in Spanish with English subtitles can also help familiarize both you and your child with the language’s vocabulary and rhythm.

Empowering students to take ownership of their learning process by allowing them to choose their preferred method of practice is key to effective Spanish language acquisition. Whether they opt to create a comic strip, record a podcast with a friend, or compose a song in Spanish, giving students autonomy in their learning enhances motivation and engagement.

3. Take a Holistic Approach

Rather than confining foreign language study to a single dedicated course, research suggests integrating language learning throughout a comprehensive curriculum. For instance, a study published in the Cambridge Journal revealed that English students who received instruction in academic subjects delivered in French outperformed their counterparts in language-listening tests and exhibited higher motivation to practice French. This approach contrasts with traditional language classes conducted solely in English.

Many educational institutions have found success with this approach by incorporating specialized classes such as drama, literature, music, and arts taught in the target language, such as Spanish. At the International School of Denver, for instance, subjects like math, science, and history are taught in the student’s chosen language.

Practical assignments in language learning also emphasize the importance of authentic content. Engaging with materials like newspaper articles, movies, and games in the original Spanish not only enhances fluency but also broadens the student’s knowledge base, providing valuable real-world context for language acquisition.

4. Assign Practical Projects and Tasks

Rote memorization of vocabulary and monotonous grammar exercises often fail to engage children effectively in learning a new language. Active tasks, on the other hand, allow students to connect with the content, culture, and vocabulary in a more meaningful way. For instance, students could watch a video showcasing Spanish folk songs and then collaborate in groups to translate the lyrics into English.

Roleplaying serves as another effective tool for language learning. By setting up scenarios that mirror real-world situations, students can practice their language skills in a practical context. For example, one group can act as shopkeepers while the other group attempts to purchase groceries without using English, and then roles can be reversed.

Teachers may also organize vocabulary into subject areas, and parents can reinforce this approach at home. For instance, parents can challenge their child to learn the names of their favorite foods one week, followed by learning vocabulary related to visiting an amusement park in Spain the next week. These themed approaches help students establish the mental connections crucial for language acquisition.

5. Prioritize Consistency and Immersion

Students don’t become fluent in a new language overnight, but consistent practice can help them build fluency and confidence over time. Language experts often emphasize the importance of daily exposure to the target language, as well as ensuring that language learning activities are relevant to the child’s life and interests to maintain engagement.

For preschool students, incorporating short daily sessions into their schedules works best. By switching activities every 10 minutes or so—such as playing vocabulary games, singing, dancing, engaging in art, writing, and other activities—kids at this age remain interested and motivated.

Repetition is essential in language learning, as hearing grammar and vocabulary repeatedly helps it become second nature. Varying the methods of practice ensures necessary repetition without risking a loss of interest and motivation.

Parents can also integrate Spanish into their child’s daily routine by incorporating foreign phrases into everyday tasks such as eating breakfast, putting on shoes, and brushing teeth. This practice helps reinforce language learning in practical contexts and makes it a natural part of their daily lives.

6. Embrace the Four Cycles of Learning

The International School of Denver has developed a progressive language-learning model tailored to the age and language proficiency level of each student:

For families seeking comprehensive Spanish language education, the International School of Denver stands out as one of the premier programs in the United States. Established in 2001, our Spanish curriculum has earned accolades, including the highest honor from the Spanish Ministry of Education in 2011. The following year, we were ranked among the top four Spanish-language immersion elementary school programs in the nation by the ministry.

Our school provides an inclusive, globally-focused education for students ranging from pre-K to grade eight, attracting learners from both domestic and international backgrounds. Prior experience in a foreign language is not necessarily required for enrollment, as admission criteria are tailored to each student’s age and language goals. Explore our pre-K, elementary, and middle school admissions processes, and schedule a campus tour to discover if our vibrant learning community is the ideal environment for your child’s international education journey.

  • Cycle 1, Immersion, begins in preschool and extends through kindergarten, allowing children to enter the program at the age of three. Here, the majority of instruction is delivered in the target language (Spanish, French, or Chinese).
  • In Cycle 2, Solidifying the Knowledge Base, spanning first and second grades, students receive 80% of their instruction in the target language. This includes subjects such as science, math, music, and art, supplemented by intensive English language and literacy instruction.
  • Cycle 3, Expanding the Knowledge Base, enriches language learning from grades three through five. Many students achieve fluency during this period, with some opting to pursue a third language.
  • Cycle 4, Embedding Global Concepts and Responsible Citizenship, focuses on these principles for middle school students. While more time is devoted to English instruction in this age group, students still benefit from 30% immersion in the target language. Language education follows the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

For families seeking rigorous Spanish language education, the International School of Denver is renowned as one of the top programs in the U.S. Our Spanish curriculum, established in 2001 within our 40-year history, was honored by the Spanish Ministry of Education in 2011. The subsequent year, we were ranked among the nation’s top four Spanish-language immersion elementary school programs.

Our school provides an inclusive, globally-focused education for students from pre-K through grade eight, welcoming learners from diverse backgrounds worldwide. Prior experience in a foreign language is not a prerequisite for enrollment, as admission eligibility is tailored to each student’s age and language objectives. Explore admissions for pre-K, elementary, and middle school, and schedule a campus tour to determine if our learning community is the ideal setting for your child’s international education.