Best Bilingual Toys To Teach Child Spanish
Raising a bilingual child takes a lot of dedication and focused effort to make sure the language is being used on a consistent basis. Language is best learned through interactions with native speakers but other methods of exposure help solidify the language.
My son is being raised bilingual English/Spanish so many of these suggestions are for that language. Most of the toys come in other languages as well.
Below are the best gifts for bilingual children that come in a variety of languages, not only Spanish.
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Want quick access to the toys? Check out all the recommended bilingual toys here!
1) Bilingual & Target Language Books
Bilingual books have both English and
Books written in the target language are completely in that language without translation. This allows the reader to be fully immersed in the language without a crutch of the more familiar language on the same page.
Money-Saving Tip: Buy Used Bilingual Books
Another great place to source your target language’s books is your local library. Focus on libraries in an area whose patrons have a high concentration of second-language speakers. Many times they have a section of books in that language.
I’ve visited those library’s book sale events and picked up a stack of bilingual children’s books for $1 each book. Most children do not care if a book is used or new.
2) Audiobooks/ Audible
Listening to books being read by native speakers allows children to hear the proper pronunciation. Children can even read along while they listen for a more immersive experience.
Passive listening alone won’t lead to a level of fluency. It must combine with an active activity in order for there to be an effect.
If you already own the book in your target language, read along with the audiobook. Audible allows you to slow down the reading to half speed and quickly rewind 30 seconds.
For every word or sentence you don’t understand, look up the meaning. If you’re listening to a well-known book in your native tongue, you’ll quickly pick up vocabulary words in your target language since it’s familiar.
How To Save On Audiobook Costs
Audiobooks tend to cost more than the book does due to increased costs to produce. An Audible membership is an economical choice if you plan to listen to audiobooks consistently.
A membership costs a set price each month for 1 credit (= 1 book). Surprisingly, even a more expensive $30 audiobook can be chosen for that monthly book credit.
3) Bilingual Music
There is a large amount of bilingual and target language of children’s music. Some of our favorite artists are 123 Andrés, José Luis Orozco, Sonia de los Santos, and Mister G.
What I love about these songs are the catchy beats and lack of annoyance for adults that a lot of children’s music has.
Again, the key to music is to turn it into an active listening activity. As you’re listening to the songs, a catchy chorus may come on. Singing along with your child turns this into an active activity.
Some of the albums have both an English only and also a Spanish rendition. Your mind starts making the connection and picks up on the vocabulary.
Don’t forget to check the artist’s website. The lyrics for the songs and their translations will be there. Some even have music videos and other activities for increased learning fun.
4) Board Games
Board games get the entire family involved in the language. Choose the
Weekly family game nights are a great way to make the target language ingrained into your routine. It will probably be helpful to have a bilingual dictionary on hand in the beginning.
5) LingoBus/ iTalki Credits
Conversing with a live native language speaker is the best way to acquire a language. It is completely active and is the fastest way to fluency.
Lingo Bus is a live immersive
Their teachers are college-educated and many have years teaching. Lingo Bus is highly selective about who they hire to teach. They also follow a curriculum.
The great thing about iTalki is that you can pretty much find someone for any language. It’s great for conversation practice as well as lessons. In the “Find A Teacher” search you can go to the “Skills” section and click “Children” to find a teacher who works well with children.
If you’re wanting to work from a specific curriculum, some teachers have textbooks on hand. You can also send them a PDF file copy of what you’re working on at home. Perfect for a homeschooler or after school supplement.
Both of these programs have the option to purchase gift cards or lessons. Typically the larger the amount you purchase, the less expensive each class is.
A great company named Uncle Goose makes these bilingual blocks in numerous languages. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they use local resources and are 100% made in the USA.
One side has an animal picture with the name in the target language, another side has numbers/math symbols, and the other sides have letters.
Uncle Goose currently has blocks in American Sign Language, Arabic, Braille, Danish, Chinese, Dutch, Cherokee, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maori, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, and Ukranian.
While traditional flashcards sound more like work than fun, game based flashcards are a great option. There are games that you can play using the flashcards such as snakes & ladders, bingo, and tic tac toe.
Linguacious comes in 55 different languages. The topics are “animals”, “around the home”, “food & drinks”, or “shapes, colors & numbers.”
They state it’s for ages 1 year and older. Each card has a QR code that will give the pronunciation once scanned with a phone.
8) Disney Movies
Did you know that many Disney DVDs and BluRays come with the option to change the language? Check the product description before purchasing.
Usually, you can change the language option to Spanish or French. Subtitles in other languages are often included as well.
Check the product description to see if the movie has multiple language options. It’ll be listed under “subtitles” and “dubbed.”
Watching movies in the target language is pretty passive but a good addition to other active language learning methods.
It’s mainly helpful for hearing how things are pronounced. A small amount of vocabulary will likely be picked up.
Here are a few of my favorite Spanish dubbed Disney movies.
Bilingual puzzles or puzzle maps of the world are another way to engage kids. Perhaps it’ll inspire your child to delve more deeply into learning about those areas of the world. Learning about the countries that speak the target language offers an insight into various cultures.
Combine this with an explorer’s hat and you could have the next Lewis or Clark.
10) Magnetic Poetry
Lastly, for older learners, a set of magnetic poetry would be a fun option. These come in a variety of languages. Some have vocabulary geared towards younger kids.
The backside of each magnet has an English translation. It’s fun to leave short messages to one another on the side of the fridge.
Bilingual Gifts Overview
Overall the best thing for language learning is to immerse one’s self actively in the language as much as possible. Using toys and books are a great way to do this since they come in many target languages.
Let me know in the comments how you liked this list of the best bilingual gifts for children. I’d love to know of any other bilingual gifts you’ve purchased that help your child learn a new language.
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