I don't speak Spanish! How do I support my child in a bilingual preschool program?

I had previously posted this question, then closed it too early not knowing what I was doing. I’m placing my child in a preschool program that will teach him in Spanish for half the day. I don’t speak Spanish. How can I support what he learns at school at home?


  1. I agree that learning some along the way is the best way to do it.

    To help you with Spanish, let me tell you it’s easier to look up how to say words than it is in English. It’s almost completely phonetic.

    A – sounds more like our "o" as in "Octopus" "Octagon" "Olive"

    E – sounds more like a long a. "Ate" "Ache" "Alien"

    I – sounds like a long e. "Evil" "Eat" "Eel"

    O – Sounds like a long o. "Oat" "Open"

    U – Sounds like "oo." "Boo" "Too" "Shoo" (Ok…I know it’s spelled "Shoe," but you see how it’s easier to read Spanish? They have few exceptions to phonetic sounds)

    A E I O U
    El Borro sabe mas que tu. (AEIOU The bull knows more than you)
    I learned that week 1 in Spanish and have not forgotten it.

    Other sounds:
    ch – is an actual letter in their alphabet. It’s said like our "ch"

    ll – makes a "y" sound. Some places use it more like soft a "j" sound. So ask how the teacher teaches it.

    rr – makes that rolling "r" sound. This is going to be the hardest to learn.

    n~ (I can’t figure out how to put that ~ over the n on the computer, but I’m sure you know what I’m thinking of) It makes kind of a "ny" sound. In "ensen~ar" think of it in 3 syllables. "En" "Sain" "Yar" Put the "n" sound in one syllable and the "y" sound in the other.

    J and X – both make a "h" sound.

    I can’t think of many other variations off the top of my head. A learning tip I would suggest is to think of silly phrases and remember them. I still remember most of mine. It is a lot easier for me to remember how to say "All the cows live in the bus" than it is for me to remember "Cows give us milk." The absurdity of the phrase just made it stick for me.


  2. When I wanted to study Italian, I used to go to the library and take out childrens books. Some basic stuff like colors, numbers, animals etc… There were short sentences like "What is your name?" Good morning, goodbye…" Thank you etc…If I had trouble it was easy enough to find people who spoke Italian for me to ask. It should be just as easy for you to ask someone who speaks Spanish. A course might be too time restraining- that’s up to you. Have fun trying to learn something new!

    love to dance
  3. Ask the teacher to supply your child with "homework" that you have to do together regarding the Spanish words/concepts your child is learning. It really shouldn’t take her too much time to put that together each week. In preschool they’re going to learn colors, shapes, letters, numbers and simple phrases in Spanish, I would guess. Go online and learn these Spanish words (they are not hard to learn) and practice with your child.

  4. I agree with what they said. Starting to learn some of it yourself would be good. Also, try and find a friend or playmate for your child that speaks it. That way, when ever they talk, it will be in spanish.

  5. the best way is to learn it with him.
    my earliest memories are of my mom helping me with my homework.
    You can grab some of those books "spanish for dummies" and others

  6. I am taking Spanish in school. It shouldn’t be too hard in preschool. Look at what her brings home. Look for some websites that have pronounciations of the words on-line. Maybe the teacher could write them out for you.

  7. The best thing to do is to read a Spanish-English dictionary and if you have some spare time you can go to a speech lesson for Spanish speakers…There, you will enhance your Spanish fluency and just the saying says:"practice makes perfect"…


    yunki cho
  8. Ask the teacher to write down phonetically the words and meanings in Spanish. When your child uses the word, repeat it and ask, what does that mean, so you both learn together. Congratulations on placing your child in such a forward thinking preschool. The recent studies show children learn a second language better when they are that young.

  9. You might not need to support it. If your child is young enough and/or quick enough, half the day might be all he needs.

    P.S. What kind of pre-schooler receives homework?

  10. you can help your child learn more if you motivate him what interest him most about the language,you can start by simple Spanish song or counting.

    maestra jing jing
  11. One thing that comes to mind is exposure. Have you thought about volunteering in your child’s classroom? You can be assisting the teacher during the classroom time while you are exposing yourself to the rigorous lessons your child is being exposed to as well. You can also take a course at the local district education adult center or a local community college a course in Spanish. The more you do for yourself, the more your child will benefit as well. Good luck with your second-language acquisition venture. You will enjoy it!

  12. Try to learn spanish with your kid . The spanish community is growing so fast in this country that being bilingual will be a plus for both of you, and practice, practice, practice.

  13. Try getting your child to watch Spanish cartoons instead of English cartoons. You could also get your child to watch bilingual cartoons, but they should be educational.

  14. It is amazing what children understand from context in a language they dont understand. He will probably pick up a lot of instructional language, please, thank you, and so on very quickly. Buy some Spanish books and some new toys like puzzles, and reserve for Spanish review time only. He will learn it is ‘Spanish time’ at home, so even if you dont speak Spanish and ask him in English "Whats this animal?" you can encourage him to come up with the Spanish word for it. Keep a list of words that you can learn together. Learn the basics like please and thank you, and use them during your Spanish time. It doesnt have to be a long time either, even just one activity a day will help reinforce.
    Keep in mind that as soon as he leaves the bilingual school environment, he will lose what he learned rather quickly. So if his next school is English only, there is not much you can do unless one parent is a Spanish speaker.

  15. I was in this same situation as you. I wanted my daughter to be bilingual in English-Spanish, but my husband nor I speak Spanish. I agree with much of the advice given here already like “learn with your child,” “watch Spanish kid shows,” “establish a Spanish time.” We have Spanish Time in our house and my kids have learned so much. When they were old enough to start a dual language elementary school, the teachers were very impressed.

    I wrote up lesson plans we used during our Spanish Time. It’s very appropriate for pre-schoolers, and so if you want to save yourself some time looking for the Spanish vocabulary, books, and other resources, please check out my blog http://www.spanish-lesson-plans-for-children.blogspot.com

    ¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)

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