The Spanish language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. In fact, there are 440 million native Spanish speakers in countries in Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

The importance of learning Spanish is therefore widely known, and it is for these reasons that it stands at the forefront of language learning in schools around the world.

But why wait until your child reaches school for them to start a Spanish program? Teaching Spanish to kids from a younger age will put them ahead of the rest by the time they reach school, and as a younger learner, they could benefit from being able to learn a language a lot quicker due to their age and the way that their brain acts as a sponge absorbing information a lot quicker than older students.

But when is the best time to start teaching them Spanish? What do the experts say? Should you start digging out your grammar books from school?

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 When to start teaching Spanish to kids

Lots of parents ask about when the best time for teaching a language is.

A lot of parents ask about how difficult life is with a child learning two languages. Is it too much for them? Will it affect their level in English? Will they be able to distinguish between the vocabulary of the two languages? How will they go about life speaking two languages?

We’re going to answer all these questions here, starting with the first one that was answered by linguists regarding whether there is an age limit to learn Spanish. Put very simply, there’s no minimum age for learning Spanish.

kids at school
Learning Spanish can give your child the best start. (Source: Pexels)

Child and language acquisition experts have established the best starting point for learning a foreign language. It’s recommended that you start as soon as they’re born, teaching them the language alongside English.

Speaking Spanish non-stop to your child might be a bit frustrating at the beginning but it’s the best thing you can do for them if you want them to learn the language.

During their first years, even if the child isn’t able to speak, they’re listening and picking up lots of Spanish vocabulary. It’s important to get their ears accustomed to the Spanish accent. Any beginners guide to learning Spanish will start in the same way, the only difference is that a very young child will do a lot less reproduction of the language. The process of familiarising yourself with Spanish is the same though.

This is how they’ll be able to eventually become fluent in Spanish. If both parents are bilingual in English and Spanish, then one should focus on speaking to the child in English, and the other in Spanish.

This will allow you to work together to teach them both languages simultaneously. You don't need to start showing them Spanish grammar until they're older. Just talk to them in their new language and before you know it, they'll learn to speak.

Over time, it will just be natural to them to speak both languages and they won't even realize they are switching between the two. The aim here is to have them speak Spanish since they are very young so they don't even realize it's something that they are "learning" but something that they already know.

If you aren't a Spanish speaker, then it is possible to find a Spanish teacher who can do some basic Spanish to your child, such as introducing some useful verbs and teaching them how to count, just as any other beginner would start taking Spanish classes near me.

Another good option is to get some extra care like an "au pair" from a foreign country to teach your child Spanish. This is a great way to get them acquainted with the language in a more organic or natural way.

Take note of bilingual environments to teach Spanish to children

If there isn’t a Spanish speaker at home, it’s important that you follow the example set by bilingual families. A child can learn to speak Spanish even if there are no Spanish speakers living in the house. However, you will have to rely on a wider array of methods and Spanish resources, aside from the aforementioned hiring a tutor method.

The goal is to transmit knowledge, after all. This is what bilingual families do right from the moment the child is born. The father and mother each choose a language that they’ll talk in and the child will grow up in a bilingual environment.

Find Spanish classes here.

kids at school
A language is one of the best skills you can help your children to learn. (Source: Pexels)

If nobody in your house can speak Spanish, then it might be worthwhile looking at all the free Spanish lessons available online and also looking for Spanish classes (or immersion daycare centres) for children.

We’ve all got that friend who has a foreign parent and can speak two languages. For some of them, their parents decided to introduce them to both languages from a very young age.

The fruits of their labor was that, from the age of 4, according to the experts, the child was able to distinguish the two languages from one another.

How?

This is because that’s the age when they start socializing, going to school, hanging out with friends who speak English. English will then become their main language and Spanish will therefore become their second mother tongue.

There is no concrete answer to how long learning Spanish takes, but if your child starts learning from a younger age, and has constant exposure to the language, they will learn at a faster pace.

On the other hand, even if their "acquired" Spanish level is not that good, it will probably be easier for them to learn Spanish once they start lessons since they will already be used to listening to the language and will be accustomed to hearing certain expressions.

Teaching Spanish to children: start from birth!

We have to outline two main stages. The first one’s birth. The parents, if they want to, can start speaking Spanish to their baby from the second they’re born. This will help tune their ear to the language and its pronunciation, and help to develop a Spanish speaking linguistic environment. Then, at 4 years old, the child will start being able to differentiate the 2 languages and won’t mix them up.

The final stage is when they reach 7 years old and have established Spanish as a mother tongue. Researchers and linguists have established that around age 7 is when a brain reaches its maturity threshold. While it’s not to late after this stage, the learning process will be slower than if they’d learned at a younger age.

The child will no longer be able to learn Spanish as they would English. To explain this idea, we’re going to take a look at the “critical period hypothesis” a little bit later on.

So what do you think? Our advice would be this: don’t wait until your child has learned English before you start teaching them Spanish. If you want your child to be fully bilingual, you need to put in the effort from the moment they’re born. Not only will they hopefully become successfully bilingual, but there are also lots of benefits of learning a language early.

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Maria
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Lorena
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Ilana
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Ilana
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Junior
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5 (6 reviews)
Junior
$9
/h
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Nancy
4.9
4.9 (9 reviews)
Nancy
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/h
1st lesson free!
Elizabeth
5
5 (9 reviews)
Elizabeth
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/h
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Leigh
5
5 (3 reviews)
Leigh
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/h
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Maria
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5 (6 reviews)
Maria
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/h
1st lesson free!
Bianca
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5 (7 reviews)
Bianca
$40
/h
1st lesson free!
Lorena
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5 (3 reviews)
Lorena
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1st lesson free!
Ilana
5
5 (5 reviews)
Ilana
$17
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1st lesson free!
Junior
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5 (6 reviews)
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Starting Spanish learning from Age 3

You already have some food for thought concerning your child’s bilingualism. Here’s some more...

There are a number of different schools and centres in different countries where foreign languages are taught. Admittedly, they’re normally only found in the biggest cities. While they have traditionally focused on children in school, university students, and adult learners, they’ve started moving towards teaching the very youngest children another language.

kids at school
There are a number of immersion daycare centres that offer classes and activities for children. (Source: Pexels)

This means there are daycare centres for children as young as 3, which can show them how to go about learning Spanish. The approach is different to typical language classes as the children are very young. They tend to learn through games and media resources rather than the language education you were used to in school.

Your child will learn their first Spanish words at a very young age. This is great for parents who feel that their own Spanish isn’t good enough to speak to their child in their earliest years. This also means that your child will start learning Spanish around the important age of 4 when they start distinguishing the languages.

This is why immersion daycare centres might be the best way to make your child fall in love with language learning, whilst keeping it fun and educational at the same time.

Advantages of teaching Spanish to your kids at a young age

Learning a new language is always a good idea. The more languages you speak, the more you will understand of the world and that will definitely be the case for your children. Here are some advantages that will come to them by speaking Spanish:

  • They will have a more global approach to life.
  • They will be able to live in different countries without a problem.
  • They will have a better CV for potential companies.
  • They will have a better profile for potential schools and universities.
  • They will be able to travel and communicate without problems.
  • They will become more empathic with people from other cultures.
  • They will be able to be more critical about political and social issues.

As you can see, there is no downside to having your kids learn Spanish when they are young. It's just a matter of making the decision and making it happen. But, when is the best moment to do this? There is a theory called the "Critical Period Hypothesis" which might answer this question for you.

What is the “Critical Period Hypothesis” and what does it say?

Earlier we spoke about reaching age 7. This age comes from the “critical period hypothesis”. This idea came about during the 1960s, and states that there’s a certain period in our development (a window, in other words) where learning a language is much simpler.

The biolinguist Eric Lenneberg worked on this question and the critical period hypothesis showed that the perfect time for learning a 2nd mother tongue is between 2 years old and the start of puberty. According to this theory, people beyond that age will never become fully fluent in a language.

This theory has been widely tested without definitive results but, if you’re interested to learn more about learning abilities and how it might affect your child's Spanish lessons, we recommend you check out his work even though the theory still remains somewhat disputed.

Long term advantages of teaching Spanish to kids

As you saw earlier, there are plenty of good reasons for learning Spanish as early as possible. You have to make the decision on whether you’d like to teach them yourself or enlist the help of an expert. Either way you will need a plan for learning Spanish, as without one, it can be a difficult and lonely task.

If your Spanish isn't great, you may want to start by saying a few Spanish phrases to your child. You might even want to learn spanish online yourself before you start, or study Spanish with the help of your own tutor.

kids at school
Your child will thank you for teaching them Spanish. (Source: Pexels)

In the end, whatever method you choose, you shouldn’t wait around. Learning a second language is a huge advantage in the modern age. In a few years, speaking at least two language may be considered the norm. You wouldn’t want your child to be left behind, would you?

Superprof Spanish tutors are available for Spanish classes London, Spanish classes Manchester, Spanish classes Leeds...

By deciding to teach your child Spanish as soon as possible, you’re giving them a huge advantage in their future life by giving them fluency a second native language as well as the option to speak a third language once they’re older. Almost everyone else around the world is learning English in addition to their own language.

Foreign language skills have always been a generic problem for native English speakers. There aren't enough candidates who have even managed to master conversational Spanish despite how prevalent it is.

Today’s children would, therefore, do very well to have three languages under their belts by the time they go to university! If they learn Spanish as soon as they can, they’ll acquire the language as a mother tongue rather than a foreign language. They’ll even be able to have dreams in Spanish, too!

Finally, during school, they’ll be almost exclusively learning in English. You might help them develop a love of languages which could see them study languages later on in life, which could in turn shape the course of their career!

Teach Spanish to kids with a tutor from Superprof

Are you convinced that Spanish is a good tool for your kid? Do you want them to start speaking Spanish as soon as possible? Superprof is here to help you!

We have a network of Spanish tutors that will help you and your child reach your Spanish-speaking objectives. Through our platform, you can connect with hundreds of teachers in various modalities: private tutoring, group classes and online lessons. Here are the pros, cons and things to consider about each format:

  1. Private tutoring: this format is one of the most popular among Superprof teachers and students. It's great for people who need to have the teacher's undivided attention in order to get ahead and reach their goals. In the case of young children, this could be ideal, since a private Spanish tutor will probably have some knowledge of not only the language but also pedagogic resources to help your kid retain information and have a better knowledge of the language.
  2. Group classes: this is another great option for kids to learn in group environments. While the rhythm might not be set specifically for your kid, it allows for dynamic group exercises that can make learning more fun. How to do it? Just find a tutor that you like and ask them if they are open to group lessons. If they say yes, you can then find a couple of more kids to have a Spanish learning hub for small kids. This format can also help you cut costs, since you could potentially split the tutor's hourly rate with the other students.
  3. Online lessons: with the constant rise of online learning, online lessons through platforms like Zoom or Skype have become even more popular than before. This format is quite interesting for people who don't necessarily want to move or go to a school to take lessons, since it allows you to do it from anywhere. Some of our Spanish tutors offer online lessons, it's only a matter of asking if it's a format that they support. On the other hand, it is worth considering if young kids will stay engaged with online classes, since it might be harder for them to have high levels of concentration in this particular format.

Once you have made up your mind about the format that best suits your needs, it's time to choose your Spanish tutor. But, where to start? Finding Spanish teachers for kids in Superprof is super easy. All you need to do is head to our Search bar and look for Spanish teachers. Then, check out the teachers profiles to see their work experience and if they have any previous work with kids. This way, you can start figuring out who you and your kid can work with for their Spanish lessons.

You should also have your objectives clear, since this will help you define the type of tutor that you need. Some questions that you can ask yourself in order to define these objectives are:

  • What is your kid's current Spanish level?
  • Is he or she exposed to a Spanish speaking environment or will his lessons be the only place where he can practice the language?
  • How much time will he or she (and you) devote to after-class exercises and homework?
  • How much are you willing to pay?
  • What is the nature of your kid? Will he or she do okay in a structured learning environment or do they need a little bit more flexibility from their Spanish teacher?

All of these questions are crucial in understanding the type of tutor that will work best for your kid. Remember that no kid is the same and it is important to take your child's personality into account so that the lessons are successful and you get them to reach the objectives.

Once you have all of this clear, it's time to look at tutor's profiles. Here are a few thing to look out for and some questions to ask them before committing to any set number of lessons:

  • What is your experience teaching Spanish?
  • What is your experience teaching Spanish to kids? What age were they?
  • What is your teaching method?
  • Do you have any diplomas or certificates?
  • Do you have any kids yourself or are exposed to young children?
  • Do you have any pedagogic knowledge that you integrate into your Spanish lessons?
  • What materials do you use during your lessons?
  • What is your hourly rate?

You can also take a look at other students' reviews on the tutors profile. This is a great way to get some intel about their method and how they interact when they are giving lessons. This is also especially important when choosing a tutor for your kid, since this will be someone who will be consistently in contact with them and you want to make sure you are making the best possible decision!

Be sure that teaching Spanish to kids is a great idea, since it will broaden your child's horizons, enhance his cultural knowledge and prepare him to the future. Languages are more important than ever and living in this technological and globalized world is building up on the importance of this skill. Teach them early so they can be bilingual and make sure to have them enjoy the process!

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, English tutor, and all-round language enthusiast.