For traveling to Mexico with kids, understanding the language can be so helpful for getting around. We’ve picked up a few tips for learning Spanish in the few months that we’ve been here in Mexico. Now, looking back to when we first arrived in October, I can honestly say that our language skills have vastly improved.
When we first got here, I could barely order food at a restaurant. Now I am able to ask for directions, make reservations at a hotel, and even have a simple conversation with someone about where they’re from. While I’m still a long way from having deep conversations with people, I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in Spanish.
This post was updated on December 3, 2019.
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Discovering the best method to learn Spanish
In my opinion, the best method to learn Spanish is to just jump right in and don’t be afraid of making mistakes or sounding like a two year old. If you want some kind of app to get started, the Duolingo app really helps in introducing you to some basic phrases. Friends of ours recommend Memrise. In terms of teaching Spanish to kids, they like using the FlashApps Spanish Flash Cards app, which shows them pictures with the Spanish word written above it.
If you have more time on your hands, the second best method to learn Spanish is to take Spanish language classes. Here in La Paz, we’ve been taking private Spanish lessons at a school called El Nopal. My husband and I take our lessons together, and my daughter gets private lessons at the same time. Our youngest spends the time in the Spanish immersion preschool that’s also at the school.
I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to dive deeper into the grammar, and having a person to ask questions about. That’s definitely one thing that’s missing from self-learning through apps. I also appreciate being able to have my kids experience Spanish classes for children. It’s helping them become a lot more comfortable with the language.
Our tips for learning Spanish
Language acquisition is a long process. There’s no one best method to learn Spanish. In actuality, it’s mostly trial and error. In the almost four months that we’ve been here in Mexico, though, we do have some tips for learning Spanish that we can share with others. My hope is that they’ll help you be more comfortable traveling and speaking around Spanish-speaking countries.
My biggest tip for learning Spanish is to stop being afraid. We will undoubtedly make mistakes when we speak a new language. But you’ll never learn if you never make mistakes. Even if you only know a few words in Spanish, try and use them to have a conversation with someone.
Reading is also a great way to learn a language. Pick up a newspaper or a magazine, and read an article out loud. Translate words you don’t know. And then try to figure out the meaning of the article. Or buy a Mexican Spanish phrase book and read the phrases outloud. Reading aloud also helps you practice your pronunciation.
Another best method to learn Spanish is to ask questions. We learned two phrases recently: como se dice ______ en espanol (how do you say ______ in Spanish) and que significa _______ (what is the meaning of ______). Those two questions help tremendously in learning new vocabulary! You can also ask simple questions like usted viene de ______ (are you from ______)? Asking that question can help spark a conversation with a person.
Methods for teaching Spanish to kids
The next step for us is focusing on our kids, and figuring out the best way for teaching Spanish to kids.
Kids learn differently from adults, and teaching children Spanish is quite different from teaching adults Spanish. We’ve been successful in teaching them a few words through pictures and songs. And there are a few apps that they love to use. But they are definitely a long way from being able to communicate in Spanish.
In terms of our kids, I still need a lot of tips for learning Spanish. And I’m still trying to figure out the best method to learn Spanish for my kids. So far, they’ve been enjoying their Spanish classes for children at El Nopal. And every day, we try to expose them to the Spanish language by going out into the city and having them hear the language.
The path to becoming Spanish speakers
When it comes to my husband and me, I think we’re on a good path to becoming Spanish speakers. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve also come a long way. Just looking back on the progress we’ve made makes me feel proud!
Have you had success in learning Spanish? Share your tips on learning Spanish while traveling in the comments!
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