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Every Kid Deserves the Chance to Learn and Grow

Pair these FREE educator-developed printable activities with your favorite Encantos videos, books, and songs to help your child develop critical reading, writing, math, and social emotional learning skills. Plus, check out our Tips for Grown-ups to help reinforce the teachable moments in each lesson.

Oct 08, 2021 - 6 min read

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Cultural Immersion: The Power of Learning Spanish Through Culturally-Authentic Content

by Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

As a parent raising bilingual children, you may already know that the best time for kids to learn Spanish is: as young as possible. But do you know what is the best way for them to learn?

Most language learning tools like digital language apps are all about rote memorization; repeating a vocabulary word again and again with little context until hopefully, the child memorizes it. This process is not only boring for preschoolers but it’s also not very effective. What’s missing from most of these language apps is the most important thing: culture.  It is culture that provides the context that helps little ones make sense of the words they are learning.

There is nothing more effective in learning a language than full cultural immersion.  One option is to move to a Spanish-speaking country for a period of time and your toddlers are bound to learn the language quickly. They will be surrounded by the language: every conversation, TV show, song, and book around them will be in Spanish.  They’ll learn the vocabulary and the context in which the words are used. They’ll learn the nuances, the idioms, and the regional words. They’ll learn about the most important parts about learning a language: the people and the culture behind the language.

For most families, moving to another country is simply not an option.  The next best thing is a full Spanish immersion program. In these programs, kids hear only Spanish spoken throughout the day. They learn all the preschool fundamentals like numbers, letters, and days of the week in Spanish, as well as learn about Spanish-speaking culture through exposure to things like music, food, and traditions.

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Ask a Bilingual Expert

Raising a bilingual child? On this page, our very own Director of Learning Design and Efficacy, Sophia Espinoza, addresses some of the most common questions, concerns, and curiosities around the benefits of bilingualism. Get the scoop below!

Sophia Espinoza is a career educator and curriculum designer with seven years of experience teaching in private and independent schools across the country. She is an expert in 21st-century education, including technologically-powered personalization, multilingual and multicultural curriculums, and social-emotional learning.

Sophia began teaching in Chicago Public Schools through Chicago Teaching Fellows, learning to support both English Language Learners and students with neurodiverse needs. Among her proudest accomplishments is launching the AltSchool Spanish Immersion Program, with the mission of creating bilingual global citizens who are socially conscious and environmentally aware. Sophia holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and M.A.Ed. from Dominican University.

Benefits of Bilingualism (FAQs):

Any advice on managing two Spanish dialects in the household? Does this cause confusion for kids?

What do you recommend if I’m not completely fluent and my child’s school doesn’t have an immersion class?

Do you recommend teaching different subjects in different languages? For example, the solar system in English and the days of the week in Spanish? Or is it better for kids to try to learn in both languages all the time?

We speak Spanish and English in our home but my child almost always answers or talks back in English. How can I go about encouraging her to respond and speak more in Spanish?

Should I set aside time or create activities for each language or is it okay to mix them both together?

Any advice for households where one parent speaks Spanish and the other English? Can this be confusing for children?

How can my child learn language through play?

What are the social and cultural benefits of bilingualism?

What are some of the cognitive benefits of bilingualism?

What are some strategies for raising bilingual children?

What are some common misconceptions about raising bilingual children?

What are some of the cognitive benefits of bilingualism?