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Old 09-18-2014, 02:11 AM
Dreamer21 Dreamer21 is offline
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Default Teaching a Spanish

Hi everyone! This is my first time posting on the forum, but I've been lurking around for a while.

I have two kids* that I need to teach Spanish to, but I'm supposed to act like I don't know any German**, one is still an infant (no problem there), but the oldest one is 6 years old and the family told me that he knows I can speak German.

Well, I have not beep a word in German to any of the kids, that was the rule for being hired, but it's also hard to teach the child any new words he needs to repeat the sentence in Spanish. He understand quite a bit, but lacks major verbs and nouns. I'm creating many flashcards and things for him, but to teach a 6 year old boy anything, its a very difficult task, plus I need to mind the infant as well.

Here's how I'm doing it so far.

Child starts talking in German only, and I say in Spanish things like "I don't understand", "repeat it/now in Spanish, please" etc. sometimes he replies in German as well "but I don't know how", or simply "I can't". I wait a bit until the child either seems to be thinking of ways to say it or just gives up and runs away (most common scenarios). When he really looks like he thought how to say it, but still couldn't then I pretend I have an idea of what he's trying to say, so I tell him some new words he can use in the sentence and ask him to try again. Well by doing that it seems he figured out I can also speak German.
The parents weren't really mad (but I'm sure in reality they aren't very happy), but to me that's a problem because that is the reason I was hired. My husband tells me to keep it up that I'm doing it the right way, but I need more opinions or ideas.

I will be making a reward/progress chart that I hope helps, but I still don't know what to do about making him believe I don't understand anything but Spanish and still be able to teach him his missing words.

* I don't have a daycare or anything, but I couldn't find any other forum as good as this I'm actually a professional nanny. Hope you guys wont mind.
** I'm currently living in Europe.

P.S. Teaching a language was never part of my training and although I can do pretty well from zero, I cant figure out how to deal with someone who already knows some, but refuses to speak in anything, but their mother tongue.

I communicate in English with the parents, the boy doesn't speak English.

I AM very sorry for the long post and thank you in advance.

Oops, cant edit the title, previously I wanted to write "teaching a language" then changed it to Spanish, hence the 'a' :P
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:54 AM
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Blackcat31 Blackcat31 is offline
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Welcome to the forum!! Nannys are VERY welcome too!!

I wish I had advice but I have NO idea how to teach a child a second language other than simply repeating over and over.

If you have access to an i-pad, there is a fantastic app called Duolingo that is fantastic at teaching the basic Spanish words.

They offer other languages besides just Spanish too!

Here is a link to it
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:42 AM
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SignMeUp SignMeUp is offline
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I don't have a lot of experience, except with younger children, but I cared for a school-age girl from Nicaragua one summer. I spoke only a few words en Espanol, and she spoke no English. We got along pretty well by acting things out, pointing, making faces or gestures, etc.

Could you possibly pretend not know any German? Train yourself to give a quizzical look & hand gestures if he speaks in German. Then you won't need to say it each time. Or possibly say only one phrase in Spanish, like "no entiendo". (As a joke, I used to say "no nintendo" to this child - because I really knew almost no Spanish. Nintendo was the hot game system and she found it really amusing that my Spanish was SO bad.)

It might make it easier for both of you if you can just learn to close your ears to his German, if you know what I mean. "No entiendo...?"

With books, it's nice that the child is only six, because picture books are still appropriate - you can read them, or sometimes just point things out and name them, as you'd do for a toddler, to build vocabulary. Or as you read them en Espanol, point out actions or items in the pictures as you say the words.

Humor goes a long ways for school-agers too. Maybe you can do some simple jokes in Spanish, things that are geared more to preschoolers - it will be closer to the language ability level.

Songs are another way to get some vocabulary content in, and be a little bit of fun also. Songs geared toward preschoolers might be best for a starting point, or maybe songs that the child already knows in German?

Two other things I fondly remember doing with this little girl: My other child care children all napped, so once they were asleep, the two of us always had a little treat. It was special, just for us, and she learned to ask for certain things she knew I might have around, in English. Also, she taught me a little song on the piano, played all on the black keys: La Mariposa. I have taught it to many of my four and five-year-olds since then. All because of Mari

To me, using those type of exposure methods are more appropriate for a six-year-old than just "teaching" like you would a child who is older, though I'm sure it depends on the child.

How nice that you are fluent in so many languages I feel like a dunce by comparison
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:05 AM
Dreamer21 Dreamer21 is offline
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Thank you Blackcat31!

I would really love to use this app, but the parents aren't keen about technology (although they have so many gadgets), the kids aren't even allow to watch TV (at all).

Thank you SignMeUp for all the tips.

hahhah "no nintendo". Love it! I wish German was as easy to play around with as Spanish or English.

Well, I play the "no entiendo" card all the time and sometimes he really seems to think hard, but to no avail and because I know how excited he is about having a conversation with me, it makes that much harder to close my ears to his German. But I really need to!

I always read him books, he loves books. A few nights ago he interrupted me while I was reading to him and said (in German of course) "It's funny how you keep reading in Spanish, but I don't understand anything", I wanted to laugh so hard because his face was looking so mature hahaha. Well I pretended I didn't understand and said in Spanish "Huh? You said I should stop reading, what? " of course he said "no".

He goes to daycare so I see him in the morning then at night. Our time together is pretty short, but when the baby is sleeping I try to interact with him as much as I can before his bedtime. He will be going to school next year and because of this the parents want him to learn as much Spanish as he can because the school is bilingual and he needs to pass a Spanish test.

The parents don't speak Spanish, but his daycare is bilingual, that's where he learned Spanish and that's where he spends most of his time, I don't think he will learn much more Spanish there.

I really need to close my ears to German, like you said and quick
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:46 AM
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SignMeUp SignMeUp is offline
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Pauvre petit So many expectations, so little time. So much focus on getting into a school, but it sounds like the parents just want to pay someone to get him ready. Maybe it's cultural, or maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that is the feeling I get

Could you possibly, instead of broadly using the language, focus for a week or so on a few words/phrases/sentences that he does not understand yet? So, perhaps the first week, use Spanish most while getting him ready for bed. Pajamas, brush your teeth, let's read a book, fluff your pillow, get in bed, good night, etc. And the rest of the time, try letting him lead you (but you still close your ears to his Deutsch), or if he doesn't try to engage you in an activity, just quietly sing songs in Spanish as he plays. And react with a smile when he uses a word, or uses actions that indicate he understood
After a week or so, when that vocabulary is easier, move to another area: maybe something that you know interests him. If he likes trains and has them at home, start naming the cars and parts of the train, tracks, station, different types of bridges, even the little trees, people or animals.
And then keep moving on to different vocabulary areas. It seems like it might go better when it's something "real" to him, something that he does or cares about, and limiting to one area at a time might give him more of a chance to catch on.

(Just trying to hit upon something more playful that might work, you know? It might be difficult for him to feel as if he is in school all day and evening too.)
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:15 AM
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Shell Shell is offline Member
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Just my two cents here- this seems like a lot of pressure for you, and you say you haven't had any formal training (paraphrasing). Everyone is giving you great suggestions, but is it going to be enough for the parents? What happens if he doesn't pass the test? Sounds like they should get a tutor. All you can do is your best. Best of luck!
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:59 PM
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daycare daycare is offline
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I am ESL and when I learned I was taught by putting words on everything.

I had to take english in school, I did not attend traditional Islamic school, I went to British or westernized secular school. So I was taught at a very young age. MOst of my class was taught in arabic, but also english.

They taught me by placing the english words on everything even though I can not read. Every day we would play games. I recall playing a game with the stapler on the paper and we sang a chant in English. I can't recall the chant. I just recall a lot of singing in English in my early days and then later the more traditional by text book.

I don't teach my native tongue, but I do teach a lot of children to speak english. I play a lot of games like hiding objects (every day ones, like a cup, shoe, pants, shorts, etc) in a bag and then say Hey billy lets play a guessing game, I would use the parents to help you demonstrate first so that he can understand use his language first. Then when you pull out the item you say it in the language you want him to learn.

If it is a cup, then you say it in spanish it's a cup its a cup. let's get a drink in the cup....say it all in spanish.

I have been working with ESL kids for a very long time. they have actually helped me improve on my english.

I guess I would say that you would teach this second language just like you would teach a younger infant, running vocabulary of what you are doing, lots of toys, games and fun fun fun. of course in the language you are trying to teach.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:04 PM
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Thriftylady Thriftylady is offline Member
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I think the mistake is in not speaking both spanish and their natural language. For instance to be able to pull out a blue cup and say "blue cup" in both languages. Then adding choices in Spanish "would you like the blue cup or the red cup?" Then they can reply to you. It is less pressure on both of you to do Spanish only and they get rewarded when they use it.
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Old 09-24-2014, 03:36 AM
Dreamer21 Dreamer21 is offline
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Thank you all for taking the time to help me. @Daycare, those are actually great ideas "They taught me by placing the english words on everything even though I can not read", I used to do this when I started learning German, but I didn't think of it because he can't read yet. Thanks for the great ideas!

I actually had a long talk with the parents and they seem to understand the problem I'm facing. We will see how things will turn out. I will follow some of the tips you guys gave me

Thanks everyone
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:28 PM
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AmyKidsCo AmyKidsCo is offline Member
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As I understand it, the best way to learn a second language is to have it used in the home. What I would do (if I were fluent in another language) would be to say everything in Spanish then repeat it in their native language. I'd also get some picture/board books in Spanish and read those, and use Spanish as much as I could throughout the day. I personally wouldn't use apps or flashcards because children learn language through daily use more than those other things.
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