Reflections on raising a reluctant Refolder

As an adult language learner, you might have found yourself wishing you had the language-learning abilities of a child. But let me tell you, as a mom of a 6-year-old, I can attest that kids don’t just magically absorb languages.

Of course, as her mom, I am legally obligated to profess to the world that my baby is a genius. Objectively, she picks stuff up quickly. The problem is she only picks up on the things that are important to her. She’s not obsessed with Spanish like I am. I can’t make her be interested, and I can’t make her pay attention.

She can’t even Read English and Anki is out of the question…

What am I supposed to do as a parent? Put horse blinders on her and tie her in front of a Spanish lesson?

Though the idea of horse blinders is tempting, I’ve actually had a lot of success introducing Spanish into her life naturally.

I had a realization that to truly help her acquire the language, it’s not my job to teach her. Instead, I need to imagine myself as a facilitator. It’s my job as her parent to help her find comprehensible and compelling content that she loves. I need to help make it exciting whenever she discovers a new word. I can show her that Spanish can be fun even if you can’t understand everything.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Found Spanish dubs of her favorite YouTube channels: TONS of kids’ channels on YouTube are translated into Spanish. So, if she’s into a show that isn’t educational, I’ll switch it over to Spanish — boom, now it’s educational.
  2. Vocab building as a game: Anki is boring. Instead, I’ve made colorful flashcards and turned them into a game! I’ll have her jump around while saying the words, act out the meaning, or even draw the definition!
  3. Spanish as a social activity: If there’s ONE thing my child loves above anything else, it’s chatting and spending time with her parents (I’m savoring it now, I know this won’t always be the case). We found a simple comic in Spanish that she seemed interested in, and we’re reading it together. I’ll stop, have her point out the words I’m reading, and have her explain what’s going on!

That’s it! The main takeaway from this is that I focused on making Spanish fun and interesting. Since she’s only 6, we’re in no rush. Unlike me, at 36, she has her entire life ahead of her. As long as she’s making any progress and stays excited, she’ll be set up for success later on in life.

Here’s the cool thing, she’s already picked up a few phrases and words on her own! One of the best feelings in the world is hearing her shout things like, “Mommy, did you know that arco iris means rainbow!?!?”


What do you think? I’m always looking for ways to make things interesting. Feel free to reply to this blog in the comments with any ideas you might have. (I need all the help I can get!)

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