The easy answer?
1. Introduce the words.
2. PLAY with Mock situations!
3. Don't waste time learning words you're not going to use in your home. At first :)
4. Having the plan ready to open whenever you get an extra 5 minutes of downtime is a game-changer.
...Now let me explain.
I could NOT get my son to speak Spanish.
It wasn't his fault, 100% it was mine.
We speak ENGLISH in our house, it's not like suddenly I could just speak to him in Spanish 100% of the time (although fluent)... we just didn't have that habit!
I missed the whole "just start speaking to them when they're babies!" opportunity.
I thought about it the ENTIRE baby phase.. I just... was busy surviving and worrying about my child communicating in one language let alone two.
UGH. See?! Totally my fault.
But I've gotta give myself credit... I WANT to teach him. I'm searching for ways. I'm TRYING!
I even started just throwing in Spanish words to him one day... you know, starting the whole "immersion in your home" stuff.
He hated it. MOM I DON'T GET WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.
OR, he'd play along ;) MOM I CAN MAKE UP WORDS TOO! lkjhsdfkdh IS HELLO IN SPANISH!
.... so continuing my "immersion" technique, I switch his beloved Paw Patrol to Spanish...
that didn't last. TV time was supposed to be a break for me... it turned into a constant beg for it to be back on what he understood!
SO, knowing I needed help introducing this beloved language of mine into this little guy's life, I searched for a curriculum.. just something that did the work for me, telling me how to go from A to B.
I did some curriculum research. Well apparently if you want to teach your kid a language, they've gotta know farm animals first?!! WHYYYY. That's like Z on my A to B plan.
Or in order to teach a kid Spanish you've got to color the Spanish alphabet.
Spoiler alert... it looks eerily familiar to the English one ;)
Or trace? Or read? Or write?! Mr. early 4 was doing none of those things.
Was I to be punished for procrastinating teaching my baby Spanish by being forced to wait until he could do all those things to learn another language?!
STAHP. I CAN DO THIS MYSELF.
Well, WITH Mr. 4. He's the one that makes it REALLY obvious when what I was doing wasn't working...
So this is what I discovered, Mr. 4:
I can't just whip out Spanish and expect you to understand. I have to INTRODUCE it first. Tell you what HOLA means before I just start saying it to you all the time.
You like to PLAY! Worksheets and matching are NOT going to keep your attention, and are NOT useful teaching tools at this stage. So we made Spanish a lighthearted, simple, playful activity... we played with mock real life situations. And since, through play, you've already asked me a few times in Spanish "can I have more please?" your little mouth was used to it and you quickly transferred that to our daily (usually snack) situations. YOU brought it up. YOU initiate Spanish!!!
We are NOT meeting new people on a daily basis. So sorry, asking and telling me your name is NOT on our goal list.. haha! We ONLY want words we're actually going to put into practice NOW. The rest can wait.
BONUS: #4 was just for me....
I don't have the brain bandwidth to prepare this stuff. So I need it written in an open and go format.. so when you're settled down for a hot minute (...not a typical thing for a young boy..) I was READY to start a lesson!!
So I prepared the lesson the night before, we did it the next day, I emphasized things you loved and completely cut out things you didn't care for.
Then I made it pretty, to help other parents in the same boat.
Then we put it all in a cute box and.... here we are today. Homeschool Languages.
YOU helped make "our cu-wick-we-um", and you readily take boxes out to the front porch and wait for the mailman to pick it up and take it to families who are on their own language learning journey.
SO, the easy answer to teaching your child a new language is to make it fun and playful, to focus on words that you'll actual use in your daily life. Don't worry about adding in worksheets or curriculum that doesn't fit your kid's learning style! And most importantly, have a plan (having one that ready to go for those spare 5 minutes during the day is best!). With just a little effort and creativity, you can introduce a whole new world of language (and culture!) to your family.
Can't wait to hear all about your successes!!