When my oldest was almost 3, she was understanding everything we said in Spanish. However, she would always respond in English or Spanglish, never fully in Spanish. We would insist that she only speak in Spanish when she asked for something, like "Quiero leche, por favor." But it was hard to insist during daily conversation. She just did not have the practice in fluency to speak only in Spanish. So, I decided to play a little game I made up to get her speaking more in Spanish. It was called, ¿Dónde está el chocolate? I would hide an M&M, and she would have to ask me "¿Dónde está el chocolate?" then I would have to respond, "El chocolate está en la sofá" Then we would switch and I would have to ask the question and she would have to tell me where she hid the M&M in a full sentence all in Spanish. After each time one of us hid the M&M and we exchanged our conversation in full sentences, we would each get to eat an M&M. Is this bribing? I don't know, but it worked. Within a few days, my daughter started responding to me more completely in Spanish. After a few days, we moved on to hiding a teddy bear and she still enjoyed the game (and she wasn't get chocolate every time we played.)
Now my second daughter is having the same problem as my first. T is turning 3 in May and she pretty much never speaks only in Spanish. She speaks a lot of Spanglish, but never purely in Spanish. She loves reading books in Spanish and has some memorized. But I really wanted to work on it. So, I had some fun picture cards with opposites on them (one is a girl sleeping, the other is a boy awake). I thought she could say what each person was doing and then I would give her a little smartie or something. The conversation went like this:
Me- ¿Qué está hacienda él?
T- He is sleeping
Me- ¿Puedes decirlo en español?
T- He is sleeping
T- El is sleeping
Me- No, El está durmido
T- El is durmido
Me- No, repite, El está durmido
T- El es sleeping
Me- No, repite, El
T- is durmido
As you might imagine, this was a little frustrating. I even had my older 4 year old daughter saying what was on the card first. T mixes Spanish and English up so well! I guess it takes patience and consistency. I have thought about how I can help her speak more Spanish.
This brings me to a new feature of this blog. It is called el Juego del Jueves. I am very excited about it. I have researched various Spanish teaching books and changed them around to ways that I think will be wonderful to help children start speaking more. The games will be geared towards smaller children, but can easily be adapted for older children, including high school age if you want. My new goal with my girls is to play a new game each week to increase their speaking in the language. I will post a new game each Thursday and hope you will try it out. I have 16 new games to share with you. I hope that posting this will help me keep my goal to do this each week.
Please let me know how you get your kids to speak completely in Spanish and not Spanglish...I would love new ideas. Thank you!
(By the way, I don't think bribing is bad. I think sometimes an extrinsic reward can motivate them just enough to get them going. I do think that it shouldn't be the only reason they are doing it and that you should slowly stop giving them treats or rewards over time. If I bribed them for everything, they would always expect a treat in order for them to do anything I ask them!)
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