When my daughter asked me to teach the grandchildren Spanish on FaceTime during lockdown, of course I said ‘yes’! However, was I really up to the job? How could I keep the attention of a lively six and three year old, even for five minutes, on a video call trying to teach them Spanish?
My first failed attempt, in which I tried ‘¡Hola!’ (hello) ¡Me llamo abuela! (my name is grandma) ¿Qué tal? (how are you) ¡Adios! (goodbye) ¡Hasta luego! (see you later) and so on… all fell on deaf ears!
The children voted with their feet – my grandson unceremoniously switched me off (the workings of a computer being no problem for him!).
I had to put a bit more effort into it. Here is what I learnt about how to teach Spanish to children via videolink. I spread the below ideas over a whole week of lessons.
“Please fetch your coloured felt tipped pens and some plain paper,” I said, “ we are going to learn the colours of the rainbow in Spanish”. After all, all children are familiar with rainbows at the moment.
I showed them a picture of each colour in turn. They drew them, coloured them, and copied the words.
Next, we practised saying the words. They are lovely words that you can roll around your tongue. The children love to say them, so it’s a great place to start. Turns out, my grandson’s Spanish accent is much better than mine! He can roll his ‘r’s like a native.
I wondered about indigo. After all, what colour is it? Is it a greenish dark blue? I thought it might be confusing but resisted changing it to pink or turquoise. It wasn’t an issue and they were delighted that it is the same word in Spanish. Less work!
Next, I asked them to draw a rainbow. Naturally, they loved doing this, so it was a great way to engage them in the lesson right from the start. I then got them to write the colours in Spanish on the picture, as I had done:
A fun way to get them writing the words, as well as saying them. After the drawing exercise, we needed to practise the words – without the lessons becoming too boring. Afterall, I was aware that I could be switched off at any time!
The thought of teaching pronunciation, new words AND a tune struck me as too many things to learn at once. So I decided to use a tune that we already knew about rainbows. I tried to fit the Spanish words to the song:
Rojo, naranja, amarillo
Verde, azul, índigo
Del arco iris.
Red, orange, yellow
Green, blue, indigo
Of the rainbow.
It’s easy to sing, many people know the tune, and the children liked it.
Now they sing it to me all the time. If they meet anyone Spanish, they sing to them. If I ask them to tell me the colour of something in Spanish, they tell me straight away! However, ask them for black, white, pink, brown, or turquoise and they are not so good!
Since the rainbow lessons I have had to draw and make up songs about numbers, the days of the week, the parts of the body, the events of their day. But that’s for another time.