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7 Ways to Use Media and Tech to Raise Bilingual Kids

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 9/15/2015 Maria O Alvarez

Whether you speak Spanish or just want your kids to learn it, raising bilingual kids is a big commitment. But even though it can be challenging, it's definitely worth the effort. Many studies confirm the multiple benefits of bilingualism.

Aside from the learning value, Spanish fluency will open doors for kids. Spanish is the third spoken language in the world, and according to Pew Research, it's the most spoken non-English language -- even among non-Hispanics -- in the United States. Thanks to the Internet and other factors, the world has become increasingly more interconnected, and knowing more than one language makes you more competitive in a global economy. If you're interested in having your kids become bilingual, check out our recommended apps list to help kids learn another language. You also can visit our Latino landing page for more information in Spanish.

When learning a second language, it's important to hear, read, and speak it as often as possible. If you can, visit a Spanish-speaking country to immerse your whole family in the language and culture. Here are some tips to support you and your kids as you navigate the experience of living between two languages and cultures:

  1. Use media and devices whenever you can to support the Spanish learning process. Join your kids when possible. That way the message will be more clear: This is a family goal, and we can do it together!
  2. Reading is a great way to increase vocabulary and learn grammar. Start with bilingual books or ones with Spanish words. Read them to your kids if you can, or find people you trust to read to them in Spanish. For little kids whose mother tongue is Spanish, these activities are especially important. Research shows that developing their literacy skills in Spanish first facilitates the learning process of reading, writing, and speaking in English.
  3. Spanish TV shows teach vocabulary, intonation, and culture. Watching these shows also helps kids develop their listening abilities.
  4. Choose audio in Spanish when you're watching a movie. If your kids are usually immersed in an English-speaking environment, they might have trouble following along -- but keep trying. Listening to the language will really help them develop their ear for Spanish.
  5. Download apps that can support your kids' growing Spanish vocabulary. Some apps let you select the primary language.
  6. Watch documentaries in Spanish that cover history, culture, and life in Spanish-speaking countries. If you've been to the places depicted in the movie or experienced the traditions, share your own stories or memories.
  7. Explore digital storytelling tools to create memories. You can have your kids practice their Spanish by writing the titles and sharing what they've created. Plus, you can share them with friends or relatives who live in other states or countries.

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