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We’re a homeschool family who loves foreign language. Our children are in the fifth year of studying Chinese, and we recently added French. When my oldest child wanted to study Chinese, I signed him up for a two hour a week local class. I thought we’d last a semester at most. We knew we needed to help at home, too, but how could we do that when we didn’t speak a work of Chinese?
Even though I taught ESL for seven years and I speak Spanish, and my husband speaks Arabic and some German and Russian, we weren’t sure how to effectively help our child learn a language that we didn’t speak. We tried so many things – some things worked and some things didn’t. Now, here we are in the fifth year of Chinese and it’s going great!
Although it may be daunting, we think homeschoolers can do a great job teaching foreign language (even if you don’t have experience!). I’m so excited to share tips with you on how to incorporate a foreign language into your homeschooling.
Today’s post is about one of the really fun aspects of homeschooling foreign language — holidays!
Celebrate Halloween in Spanish – or any foreign language you study
Holidays are a fantastic time to sneak in a little extra foreign language study. We’re all in a good mood, usually feeling energetic from a little extra sugar, and we’re ready to break up our regular routine.
We’ve done Halloween in English many times before, so let’s try it in Spanish!
Why don’t you try some Halloween Spanish songs to start with?
This is a 2 minute song that’s sung first in English, then in Spanish. It’s very energetic and my kids like the animation.
(One drawback is that I think some of the articulation of the words could be a bit difficult for students to understand if they don’t already know the vocabulary. A common issue with songs is that the articulation of words is drawn out or squished to fit the melody. Songs are still a really important part of foreign language education, it’s just something to be aware of.)
The Cinco Calabazas (Five Pumpkins) song is teaches numbers and emotions. It’s sung pretty well and the articulation on the words is good.
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And the songs just keeping coming! The skeleton song is usually a hit.
Learn or Review Basic Halloween Vocabulary
The Tio Spanish channel cracks me up. It’s just hand-drawn finger puppets but somehow it’s still fun to watch. This episode teaches basic Halloween vocabulary.
If you’d like to watch a flash-card-style introduction to basic Halloween vocabulary, the Baby Nenes YouTube channel has one.
For a young child or a beginner who needs really slow speech, here’s a very basic “counting pumpkins” video.
Read in Spanish
Reading books is a great way to learn new Spanish vocabulary, but it’s often overlooked in favor of flash cards and vocabulary lists. Fly Guy book fans won’t want to miss this Fly Guy Halloween book in Spanish, but it’s a great way to practice beginner-intermediate Spanish for all ages.
Are your kids ready to watch a TV show or movie in Spanish?
Here’s a full Halloween episode of Angelina Ballerina in Spanish.
If the kids aren’t into Angelina Ballerina, maybe they’ll like a Zac and Quack “Noche de Brujas” (Night of the Witches) episode on Discovery Kids.
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You can check any of your regular favorite Halloween DVDs to see if they have a Spanish soundtrack. One of our favorites is The Nightmare Before Christmas. My littlest are still young enough to love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Mickey’s Treat.
Don’t forget to include hobbies in Spanish!
Do you have a budding chef or baker? They can watch a fun video on baking a Halloween cake. This video has English subtitles if needed, but sometimes the translations aren’t perfect (the cake is called pie, when it’s clearly a cake). The downside to watching these is that you can get sucked in to them and want to watch them for hours! If you do, at least it’s great Spanish practice.
Teenagers who are beyond the very basic level could really enjoy this SpanishPod101 video on Halloween. There are subtitles in Spanish and English. There’s a basic explanation of some history and culture surrounding Halloween in Spanish-speaking countries.
If you would like to see a YouTube Playlist with all of these videos, visit Lisa’s YouTube channel.
Lisa Yankey is a regular contributing writer for HomeschoolSuperFreak.com and the author of the upcoming book, “The Homeschool Path to Foreign Language.” You can find her at www.highenergyhomeschool.com, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on YouTube.
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