How to support your child’s language learning journey

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Every parent strives to provide their child with the skills needed to succeed in life, says Sonia Di Marino, a Spanish teacher at the Chicago school. Cervantes Institute, the largest international organization for teaching Spanish in the world. Giving your child the opportunity to go on a Spanish language learning journey could very well turn out to be the gift of a lifetime and open many doors as they grow.

“In a globalized world, acquiring a second language is now more of a necessity than ever,” says Di Marino. “As a mother, I know that parents want to give our children the life skills they will thank us for as adults.”

But how can parents help their children learn Spanish, especially if they don’t know the language? Di Marino, who speaks multiple languages ​​and learned English as an adult, shares four tips for successful language learning.

1. Never stop learning

“It takes more than your weekly class to truly learn a new language, so here at Cervantes Institutewe always recommend that, in addition to the time your child spends in class, that you expose them to Spanish in different ways,” says Di Marino.

Easy — and fun! – Ways to support your child’s language lessons include listening to Spanish music, asking your home virtual assistant or smartphone for the Spanish weather report, and even watching favorite Spanish animated movies (with English subtitles, if necessary).

“As you watch a movie, your brain will pick up all the voices in Spanish and make a connection between what you’re reading and what you’re listening to,” she says.

2. Travel beyond your borders

“Language is part of a culture and culture is part of a language. Total immersion is desirable, but if travel is not possible, come to Cervantes! You can have an immersive experience without leaving the city,” says Di Marino. Indeed, their professional instructors combine language learning with exposure to Spanish and Latin American culture for a complete language learning experience.

3. Recognize the uniqueness of each child

“Accept that not everyone progresses at the same rate, but know that eventually everyone here at Instituto Cervantes will speak Spanish. Your child is a unique person and we treat every child that way,” says Di Marino.

Whether in a small class at Instituto Cervantes or in large classrooms at public or private schools where they offer language learning, Di Marino says it’s important to group students according to their level. of competence.

“Your child is a unique person and we treat them that way,” says Di Marino, explaining that dividing large public school classrooms into smaller groups of matching skill level allows for more personalized and productive lessons. In doing so, she says, the positive reinforcement at the heart of Instituto Cervantes’ teaching philosophy works in favor of the students. “I like to focus on the quality of our service and check on each student to assess progress,” she says.

4. Positive reinforcement is key

Di Marino also suggests exploring Spanish as a family and avoiding negative feedback while your children develop their skills at their own pace to master the language. Specifically, Di Marino believes that celebrating each new word mastered or phrase understood, rather than focusing on mispronouncing a word, for example, leads to greater success and confidence in each child learning a new language.

“Positive reinforcement and a positive attitude are essential when you want to help your child learn a new language,” says Di Marino. “Practice. Practice. Practice. Accompany your child in the process. Share the experience with your child.

Di Marino notes that his love for teaching his native language is evident to his students.

“I’m really passionate about my work,” she says. “It’s my language.”

Learn more about Instituto Cervantes and its weekly summer camps in Spanish at chicago.cervantes.es/en.

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