Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Adjust Your Teaching Styles for English Language Learners (ELL) in ESL/Bilingual Classrooms

Starting a Pre-School Spanish Program
Tobey Bassoff

There is no better time to start learning a second language than when you are young. Research shows that brain and language development are ripest during the beginning years of life (Cowley 2000, Newsweek). Learning that is approachable and fun fascinates us all, but preschool children are especially receptive.

If you’re interested in starting a program, I would recommend taking a look at a series like “Dora the Explorer” for starters. These programs, while designed for the masses, introduce general Spanish vocabulary in a very inviting way. One website that shows examples of how to incorporate the Dora series into daily exercises can be found at: http://nickjr.com/home/shows/dora/doras_word_of_the_day/index.jhtml

My experience with teaching native English speaking preschoolers Spanish has been extremely positive. Playing games like “Ickity Pickity Bumblebee Who can say ‘red’ for me in Spanish?” help students develop the language without feeling the stress. Even early learners like to feel successful and the best way to instill that feeling is to use basic games that build on what they already know about the world. In early English literacy, we teach children to make connections to the text in order to build schema. The same concept applies to preschoolers developing their language skills. Once students correctly identify “rojo” as the color for red, move onto asking them to name objects around the room that are red. This activity can be taught in isolation, but it is also fun to use it as a way to have children join you for an activity on the rug, or to line-up for lunch or a bathroom break, or even as a way to say good-bye for the day.

When teaching vocabulary, make it fun. Many basic English literacy activities, designed to teach children reading in grades K and 1, can be adapted to teach the basics in Spanish to preschoolers. Daily calendar time is a suitable place to teach numbers, weather, logical reasoning and related vocabulary in Spanish. For ideas on different activities you can adapt using calendar math, visit: http://faldo.atmos.uiuc.edu/CLA/LESSONS/637.html

Short songs, designed for young learners, offer students an opportunity to learn about the sound of the new language through repetition and rhythm. One CD that may provide you with a starting point is called “Fiesta Songs.”

Movement activities that involve asking students to mimic the way an animal moves and to talk about the characteristics of that animal offers yet another way for students to use Spanish. As a follow-up activity you can have students create masks of a frog and describe their mask, using basic Spanish vocabulary, in the meeting circle.

By teaching students to speak Spanish at a young age, you are telling them that learning about different cultures and speaking more than one language is important. In our ever-changing global world, an early lesson like this could make a huge difference in the opportunities that your students have in the future.

Disclaimer: Teachers Network offers resources for teachers, but it does not endorse any of the companies or products that it mentions in articles.

Work Cited:

Cowley, Geoffrey. “For the Love of Language.” Newsweek Fall/Winter 2000: 12-15.

Questions or comments? E-mail Tobey.


Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before