As a third-generation Mexican-American, speaking Spanish has always been a struggle. My parents both speak fluent Spanish (they grew up in Spanish-language dominant households), but chose not to teach us kids, they thought it would help us have easier lives if we assimilated and didn’t have accents. They meant well, and they weren’t alone in that way of thinking during that babyboomer era.
Those of you who have followed my blog all these years know this story. While I was awkward with my culture during my teenage years, it didn’t last long. When I met my husband (then friend) at age 21, my perspective changed. He helped me see all that I was missing out on. I became obsessed and proud of my heritage!
I feel like as wonky as I am at many things, I’ve worked overtime to go above and beyond all these years with Crafty Chica to make up for my teenage ignorance. I’ve come a long way, I practice Spanish not only with my husband but with my kids. My son is now bilingual and so is my daughter! They took it upon themselves to learn and speak the language.
My daughter made a video this summer summing up her experience before she launched into a Spanish immersion program. You should hear her speak now!
I’ve met sooo many other Mexican-American women along the way who have the same story as me. And they are on the same path of using crafts and creativity to connect with their culture.
Learning a language is like learning music – the earlier you start, the easier it will be to learn. And it is never too early – or too late to start. Today is a good day! In our growing global world, being bi-lingual is a skill that is becoming more and more revered each and every day. I’d suggest teaching your kids, you guys can learn together! If your child is young he or she can absorb new information like a sponge!
Improving your Spanish language (or any foreign language) skills doesn’t have to be hard, you can make it fun. There are simple things you can do around the house every day that will help you pick up the language without even thinking about it.
Here are some tips to help keep you motivated!
- Feel empowered, no matter what your background or situation. Don’t let anyone make you feel unworthy if you are just starting. Especially if you are Latina and don’t speak Spanish. Know that it doesn’t lessen your identity! The key is to embrace and grow from here!
- Be ready to sound stupid. The best way to learn is to speak. Out loud. In a conversation. That’s the only way to push through – you have to go through the trial and error of the process. No one sounds eloquent and beautiful in the early days of learning a new language. And be ready for people to correct you right and left. That is part of the process too. Drop your pride and soak up as much advice and tips as you can.
- Don’t fret if you miss a week – Consistency is key, but it won’t make a huge difference if you put your studies on hold for a week or two. Just focus on doing a little bit each day.
- Don’t worry about being perfect – Learning a language is like anything else, perfection isn’t always the answer. So don’t worry about the big stuff.
- Don’t make learning a chore – You want to like learning a second language! If you approach it like a chore or a bore, you won’t learn as much as they can.
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Easy tips to started
- Start reading – Don’t only read Spanish-language books, read them out loud. This works great if you are teaching your child as well. Reading aloud not only helps stimulate brain development, but it gets you thinking in another language. To make things easier, choose a favorite book and find the Spanish-language version of it and read that.
- Watch movies – The same idea works here– choose your favorite movie and find the Spanish-language version of it. This is why I loved watching Celia, it helped me brush up on my skills! First start by watching and reading the subtitles, then step aside and listen to the conversations. Getting immersed in the language is the easiest way to become familiar with the sounds.
- Label everything in your home – Take flashcards and label everything in your home with their titles in another language. We’re talking about doors, televisions, lamps, tables, books, computers, and even foods in your pantry!
- Play games – There are a ton of different games out there, both electronic and physical, that can make learning language a breeze. Check out Scrabble, you can even draw in accent marks yourself if the language calls for it. Scattergories is also a good method because it helps the child come up with words that start with the same letter under the same category: such as foods, animals, colors, verbs, or places.
- Try smartphone apps or YouTube videos series. There are plenty of them out there! Install one and use it daily.
- Join a local Spanish-speaking meet-up group. This is a great way to make new friends!
- When traveling to another country, push yourself to only speak that language. This is what I do when I travel to Mexico, it helps me translate conversation quickly in my brain. It’s scary but fun!
- Craft with Spanish-language items, like books, phrases, etc.
With these tips in mind, you’ll improve your Spanish language skills in no time at all! Thanks for reading!Love & light,