I am the worst singer in the planet! Maybe not the planet, but I am a pretty bad singer. Nesta doesn't know that, and until he does I will sing sing sing. Why? Well singing is fun for kids, and it's more than just singing, we dance and we make faces and we point to things, and we sing and repeat and repeat stuff we're learning over and over. Yes, I sing in Spanish of course. I have busted out the "Itsy-bitsy Spider.." during car rides when he's about to lose his temper, because that spider seems to calm him down. Is there itsy-bitsy in Spanish?
Back to repetition, it really goes a long way. Kids like to watch movies over and over, and they want to read their favorite book over and over, and they want you to do that funny thing you did over and over. You get the idea. They like repetition. You may not like it, but just remember that they are learning. When teaching a language (or anything) repetition works great. Also showing works great. For example I've been teaching Nesta about where his big cabeza is and his ojos and nariz. We have a little song, and a lot of pointing and touching. Mainly he likes to pat my head or his dad's. If you were to walk in my kitchen you may find me singing cabeza cabeza cabeza while touching my head over and over. I do the same with other movements like when I pick him up and then bring him down. Arriba y abajo. There are also songs that we have been listening to that sing about moving hips and shoulders and so I point to those as we dance. It may seem like a lot of information (and sometimes I think so), but then I remember that his brain is growing super fast and that even though it seems all this information can be overwhelming he certainly doesn't seem overwhelmed. He likes to dance, and to pat my head and to put food on his head. He knows the things he likes, and if he wants them he needs to learn how to ask for them. Even if for now he just wants to point after I say the word.
It's funny because people have asked me "doesn't he get confused when you speak in Spanish and his dad speaks to him in English?" I want to say, "No m'am my kid is a genius!" He really isn't, (maybe he is :) ) he's just a baby who is growing and growing and so is his brain. All kids are capable of learning a new language just like they are capable of learning a new task. Today he finally understood how to use his spoon without flinging cheese in my face.
Learning a language doesn't have to be confusing, not if we start them young. It may be more difficult for a 12 year-old, but even that 12 year-old's brain will pick it up pretty quickly. My 9 year-old nephew has an awesome accent when speaking Spanish. It may be more difficult for an adult, but really anything is possible for anyone.
El Cuento at Multilingual Chicago starts with singing and ends with singing. The singing only stops while the book is being read, but even then sometimes the instructor goes back to her sing-song tune probably out of habit. The kids love the singing and respond to it. They also like to get up and dance. Of course, there is something to be said for learning styles, but when the kids are so young singing and dancing seems like the fun way to do anything.
Remember, your kid is a genius- now go on a teach him a new language, a new song, a new trick or a new way to to get a laugh! Just hit repeat.
P.S. A mom of a kid who goes to a very fancy school recently told me that the Spanish teacher is the best one there because everything they do seems to be in song, and her kid really remembers the lessons and enjoys them.