Yesterday, I had a really good conversation with one of my readers. She was frustrated because she didn't feel comfortable teaching her children Spanish when she didn't have any formal background in the language.
What do you do? Sometimes it's hard for me to understand this because I've been studying Spanish off and on for over 20 years. After talking to her though, I now have an even deeper respect for parents who are teaching their children a foreign language.
Well, in order to teach the language, it would be helpful learn it. Makes sense, eh? But how? Luckily today's parents have an amazing resource at their fingertips - the Internet. Also, don't forget your local library (books, dvds, cds, computers, digital media, etc.).
Let's begin! (By the way, all of these are free. I like free, don't you?)
First of all, I would recommend visiting the Spanish Language page on About.com. The guide, Gerald Erichsen, has put together a series of lessons for beginners. You'll start off with the alphabet which is very important. Once you learn the sounds of the Spanish alphabet, you'll be able to pronounce any Spanish word you see. I strongly recommend doing this first. You might be tempted to jump ahead, but don't. So, go through all of his lessons a little at a time. Set aside perhaps 15 to 30 minutes a day to do this.
Now, let's go back in time to when you were in elementary school. Remember when you learned how to read? Some may recall the Dick and Jane books. "See Jane run. See Dick run. See Jane and Dick run." Yeah, well, there you go. You have to go back to the beginning in Spanish as well. Go visit your local library. They may have a Spanish language section. Browse the books and look for the easy ones - 5-7 words to a page and pictures. Think about some of the easy books you have read to your children and find their Spanish equivalent. If they don't have any, try your library's inter-library loan service. For some super-simple books, visit this site. She has free printable books in Spanish (scroll about halfway down).
By this point, you might be getting a little bored. No pain, no gain. *grin*
Okay, another thing you can do is listen to the newbie lessons on SpanishPod.com which are actually pretty fun. I have mentioned them before here. I highly recommend that you subscribe to them through iTunes, so that you can see the transcripts (right-click on the podcast, click on get info, then click on the lyrics tab and wa-lah, there it is). If you want, you could copy and paste the transcript in a document and read while you listen. Also, to work on your pronunciation, read the transcript aloud. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email (link on profile page). There have been some changes with SpanishPod.
Are you ready to watch something in Spanish? How about Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish? I wrote about it here. Don't worry if you don't understand every word. Relax and just enjoy it. Before you know it, you'll start to understand more and more each time.
Well, I think that is enough for now. Don't feel overwhelmed. First step - the Spanish alphabet. ¡Buena suerte!