Keep your children entertained in a fun and productive way by helping them learning a foreign language. To guide you through this exciting learning journey, I have created a beginner Italian and Spanish lesson plan including podcasts for pronunciation. Take the first step, start today, enjoy!
- Suggested age: 5-11
- Approximate duration time: – 1 hour
Learning The Italian Alphabet
- Listen to the following podcast once
2. Watch the following video and repeat the alphabet when asked
3. Together, write the alphabet down; make a note next to each letter describing how it sounds to you and your child.
A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – Z
Please note the letter V can be pronounced Vi or Vu
The Spanish alphabet
A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K – L – M – N – Ñ – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – W – X – Y – Z
Practise what you learned
Spell your name to your child, for instance: my name is R-A-F-F-A-E-L-L-A and ask them to write it down, check and if you need to, use positive reinforcement to correct.
Their turn to spell their name now, they will probably need help, if you are not sure listen to the alphabet again and/ or refer to your notes.
Spell your last name P-A-L-U-M-B-O
Their turn to spell their last name
Tell them to spell their best friend’s first name and last name, write it down, and let them check if what you have written is correct.
Playing with letters; the hang man game
Tell your child you are going to choose 5 words from the alphabet (featured in the Youtube video we used earlier) and you will use them to play hang man, so they really have to pay attention to it.
Play the youtube video
Albero – Barca – Cane – Delfino – Elefante – Fiore – Gatto – Hotel (the h is silent) – Isola – Leone – Mamma – Nonna – Occhi – Papà – Quadro – Rana – Sole – Toro – Uccellino – Verde – Zebra .
Play the youtube video
Avión – Barco – Casa – Dedo – Elefante – Fresa –Gato – Hormiga – Iglesia – Jirafa – Kilo – León – Mano – Niño – Ñoqui – Oso – Pelota – Queso – Radio – Sapo – Teléfono – Uva – Vela – Waterpolo – Xilófono -Yogurt- Zorro
*Carro is car in Latin America, in Spain is coche.
After you have played hang man with your 5 or more chosen words is their turn to choose. If they are not feeling confident just tell them they will only choose one word from those written above, let them keep the written alphabet and the written words chosen next to them for reference.
Help them out if they are struggling.
Tip: never put pressure on your child, continue to motivate them and only use positive reinforcement. That is never tell them they made a mistake, on the contrary, repeat the correct sound or word without highlighting they made a mistake. At the end of every activity always praise them for getting it right and/or the effort they put into it.
Print two copies of the illustration supplied, glue them to thick paper and create two sets of flash cards. Now print the words once and create another set of flash cards.
The matching game
Here is what you need:
One set of flash cards with illustrations and one set of flash cards with written words.
Before starting the game, match all the illustrations together with the words and read them aloud.
Now, shuffle the cards and lay them on the table, start playing by picking the illustration first and matching it with the word, each successful match is worth one point. Carry on till the end of the cards and count your scores.
Now, start again, this time picking up the word first. Needless to say let your child win at least the first couple of games.
To make it more challenging pronounce the words picked up each time.
Here is the Italian podcast to help you out
Here is what you need: two sets of illustration cards
Shuffle the cards and lay them on the table, but this time they cannot be seen. Decide who goes first, you can use the Italian traditional nursery rhyme, rhyme Ambarabà Ciccì Coccò, to do so.
Here are the lyrics:
Ambarabà Ciccì Coccò
tre civette sul comò
che facevano l’amore
con la figlia del dottore.
Il dottore si ammalò
Ambarabà Ciccì Coccò!
Spanish nursery rhyme video
En la casa de pinocho todos cuentan hasta ocho, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete y ocho.
How to play
Pick one card and say what it is aloud, pick another one in order to match the image. Always name what you pick and encourage your child to do so too.
If they struggle help them out throughout the game until they remember. The person who matches the most cards wins.
CONGRATULATIONS YOU NOW BOTH LEARNED THE ITALIAN/SPANISH ALPHABET, SOME VOCABULARY AND TRADITIONAL NURSERY RHYMES!
The amazing benefits for your child
- Acquiring a new language
- Developing positive and sensitive attitudes toward foreign cultures and people
- Gaining more self-confidence
- Advancing cognitive development
- Improving social & emotional development
- Positively impacting your child’s mood, behaviour and concentration.
- Developing future interests and skills
- Strengthening the bond with parents.
Why you are the right person to help your child learn a new language
You were your child’s first teacher; you taught them their first language, even if you sent them to pre-school, most language interaction took place at home with you. As usually there is little room for one to one chats in a pre-school context.
You can help your child learn a foreign language in a very similar way to the one you used to teach them their mother tongue.
Even if you don’t know the new language well yourself, you already have the most important skills to assure successful learning, even more so when you can be guided by a trainer who has a great deal of experience in teaching children languages.
By following planned lessons and giving your child a lot of individual attention they will start speaking to you in the target language, when you think the language is getting too difficult for you to teach you can then look for a tutor who has the right expertise.
Having a strong bond with your child will certainly increase their chances of successful language attainment.
Below is a summary of the key reasons why you, the parent are perfect for this role:
- You are the one who knows your child best
- You know how to gain and maintain your child’s attention
- You are generally a more patient listener
- You are more sensitive to your own child’s individual needs and interests
- You know your child’s learning style
- You can better influence your child’s attitudes toward cultures and people
- You usually have more time for one to one interaction with your child
Would your child feel comfortable learning from you?
- A child is used to learning from his or her parents even though they are not always consciously aware that they are actually learning
- A child feels more comfortable learning in a secure environment such as their home.
- A child knows their family is interested in their activities and wants them to succeed; this motivates them and instils confidence in them.
- Learning can be customised to the child’s needs so they can learn when they most feel like it and in the most effective way.
The importance of personal relationships
Personal relationships are a keystone in language learning. As a matter of fact; most of us enjoy a subject or something today, or are good at it, because of our personal relationship with the teacher of that subject. Young children learn best when the personal relationship between the child and the teacher is positive, encouraging and warm.
Learning a foreign language relies even more than other learning on a close personal relationship; you can practise playing a musical instrument or practise drawing by yourself, but for language to develop you need interaction, you need someone to make conversation with. If there is no spoken interaction, the chances of developing speaking skills are very slim.
Contrary to most adults, children have difficulty communicating with someone if they don’t feel at ease with them, for a productive interaction to take place it is necessary to have a positive relationship between the child and the adult, and in most cases the adult who best knows the child and who spends the most time with the child is usually the parent.
Tips for parents
- Ensure language learning is fun for the both of you
- Stimulate your child’s interest in a foreign language and culture through games and activities
- Pay attention to your child’s needs and level up language according to their needs
- Increase language exposure by encouraging reading easy books with lots of pictures and listening to children’s songs.
You are probably aware children are better language learners than adults; as a matter of fact empirical studies show children are able to achieve a native-speaker like fluency by the age of 7. However, after the age of 7, there is only a slight decline in their ability to learn which lasts until the age of 17, when the age factor becomes irrelevant.
Only a very small number of people have the ability to achieve native-like fluency past the age of 17.
Children are in fact keen to learn a foreign language because for them it is less of a subject and more about exploring a new way to communicate. They are also proud to show off the little they know about it and they will enjoy letting you know for instance that they can count up to 10 in Italian, Spanish, French or other languages.
Learning a foreign language is part of a child’s complete development and more than two thirds of the world’s children speak two or three languages since the opportunities for learning exist within their home and society.
A foreign language is just one of the many things a child is eager to find out about and its learning is part of their holistic development. The number of young children learning foreign languages is steadily increasing.
The benefits of being bilingual or multilingual are numerous in terms of higher cognitive flexibility, as well as the pragmatic advantages such as being able to secure job positions that require a certain language.
In my opinion, a new language is the greatest gift you can ever give to your child. I may be biased because I had to put a lot of effort into learning English in my adulthood and I assure you it wasn’t an easy journey, but I am grateful for it and I now speak and am able to teach four languages: Italian, my mother tongue, English, Spanish and French which I studied at University.
I then carried on studying Second Language Acquisition, as part of my master degree at Birkbeck University in London, UK.
Special Offers for you:
Take advantage of our offers;
- Buy three lessons for £19 instead of the usual £29
- Buy 5 for £29 and get an Italian or Spanish children picture book*
*Offer valid until stock lasts!
Get in touch today!
- Opal D. 2003, “Help your child with a foreign language”, USA Berlitz Publishing
- Palumbo R. 2013, “Dispelling bilingual myths, dual language development in early childhood”, UK, Birbeck University of London.