• These lessons are intended for our parents who would like to gain a bit of speaking proficiency in Spanish to further support their child(ren) in their second language acquisition.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions, need additional help, or simply want to give me feedback on how to make these lessons better.  I'll create more if you find them helpful! 

    Spanish for Parents

    Lesson 1: Pronunciation

    Fortunately, Spanish shares much in common with English.  With the exception of the letters ñ, ll, rr, the two alphabets are essentially the same.

    A simple way to learn correct Spanish pronunciation (and avoid the “Anglicized tongue”) is to follow a few simple rules as they relate to the Spanish vowel code.  What makes Spanish so easy to pronounce is that, unlike English, Spanish vowels have only one sound.  Without exception Spanish vowel sounds never change. This is important to remember as you train your ear to hear correct pronunciation. 

    The Spanish Vowel Code:

    • a - as in - tall or saw
    • e - as in - sell or tell
    • i -  as in - see or tree
    • o - as in - open or close
    • u - as in - cool or tool 

    Irrespective of the number of syllables in a Spanish word, the pronunciation of these vowels will never change.  Remember this, practice it and you minimize any accent!

    Practice saying these Spanish words.  Make sure all vowels in the word sound exactly the same.

    • Manzana (apple)
    • Elefante (elephant)
    • Individual (individual)
    • Oso Negro (Black Bear)
    • Ulular (to hoot)
    • Now try this:  interesante ( pronounced/eenteresauntay )

    Lesson 2:  Greetings and Salutations

    Practicing the following phrases regularly with your child at home will help develop his/her listening comprehension and expressive Spanish skills.  The following is a list of common greetings, questions and expressions.  (Be sure to refer to the Spanish Vowel Code found in the first lesson if you aren’t sure about your pronunciation)

    • Hola - Hi
    • Adiós - Bye
    • Hasta luego - See you later
    • Gracias - Thank you
    • De nada - You are welcome
    • ¿Cómo te llamas? - What is your name?
    • Me llama - My name is
    • ¿Cómo estás? - How are you?
    • Bien.  ¿Y tú? -  Fine, and you?
    • Buenos días - Good morning.
    • Buenas tardes - Good afternoon.
    • Buenas noches - Good evening.  (Generally used after 6:00pm)
    • Que tengas un buen día. - Have a good day.
    • Nos vemos. - We’ll see each other (soon).
    • Dame un abrazo - Give me a hug.
    • ¡Buen trabajo! - Good job!
    • ¡Bien hecho! - Well done!
    • Lo siento. - I’m sorry.
     Lesson 3: Survival Phrases and Questions

    Fortunately for the student, both Spanish and English share much in common with respect to cognates (words that sound similar and often have the same or a similar meaning) and syntax (the arrangement of words in a sentence).

    Below is a brief list of essential phrases that, when combined with verbs in their infinitive (unconjugated) form, allow you to speak in complete sentences and modify your communication to fit any situation or topic.

    Use these phrases to check in with your child daily.  By asking and answering basic questions you- your child’s most important teacher-will be modeling Spanish.

    Yo quiero…            means                    I want to…

    Yo necesito…         means                    I need to…

    Yo voy a…             means                    I’m going to…

    Yo puedo…            means                    I can…

    Yo tengo que…       means                    I have to…

    Me gusta          means                    I like (Literally, it pleases me)

    By simply adding a verb to the above phrases you will be able form complete sentences to communicate many things in the present tense (and in the future with Yo voy a…).

    For example:

    Yo quiero ir.                                    means                             I want to go.

    Yo necesito comer.                       means                             I need to eat.

    Yo voy a dormir.                               means                             I’m going to sleep.

    Yo puedo hablar español.                 means                           I can speak Spanish.

    Yo tengo que trabajar.                     means                             I have to work.

    Me gusta leer.                                  means                             I like to read.


    To form questions using the above phrases, we conjugate the phrasal verbs as follows.  (Remember, you must add a verb to the phrases to complete the thought.)

    Quieres…?                     means                             Do you want to…?

    Necesitas…?                 means                             Do you need to…?

    Vas a…?                          means                             Are you going to…?

    Puedes…?                      means                             Can you…? 

    Tienes que…?                  means                             Do you have to…?

    Te gusta…?                    means                             Do you like (Does it please you to…?)        

    The following examples will show you how to put these questions and answers into a meaningful dialogue:

    Quieres ir ahora?         Sí, quiero ir.      o    No, yo no quiero ir.

    Do you want to go now?     Yes, I want to go.    or     No. I don’t want to go.

    Necesitas comer?         Sí, yo necesito comer.   o   No, yo no necesito comer.  

    Do you need to eat?            Yes, I need to eat.          or     No, I don’t need to eat.

    Vas a dormir?             Sí, voy a dormir.        o    No, yo no voy a dormir.

    Are you going to sleep?       Yes, I’m going to sleep.    or    No, I’m not going to sleep.

    Puedes hablar español?    Sí, yo puedo hablar español.  o  No, yo no puedo hablar español. 

    Can you speak Spanish?       Yes, I can speak Spanish.       or    No, I cannot speak Spanish.

    Tienes que trabajar hoy? Sí, yo tengo que trabajar hoy.   o   No, yo no tengo que trabajar hoy.

    Do you have to work today?   Yes, I have to work today.       or        No, I don’t have to work today.

    Te gusta leer?            Sí, me gusta leer.        o      No, no me gusta leer.

    Do you like to read?             Yes, I like to read.               or        No, I don’t like to read.

    I know this is a lot to chew on.  Don’t overwhelm your child with too much information.  They are hard at work learning these phrases in a natural way (without the translations) in the classroom.   Have fun by mixing and matching phrases and verbs, and only introduce a new phrase as your child gets a handle on the previous one.

    Finally, the following verb list will allow you to practice these phrases as complete sentences.  At this point, don’t worry about conjugating these verbs; just add them to the phrases to make sense.  Be creative and you will soon discover the utility of these “survival tools”.

    Ser to be                                                         Copiar to copy

    Correr to run                                                   Beber to drink 

    Caminar to walk                                                Vestirte to get dressed

    Hablar to talk                                                  Lavarte to wash one self

    Participar to participate                                  Levantarte to get up

    Escuchar to listen                                            Acostarte to lie down

    Compartir to share                                           Jugar to play

    Escribir to write                                               Oir to hear

    Ver to see                                                        Limpiar to clean

    Mirar to watch                                                 Poner to put

    Decir to tell                                                     Guardar to put away

    Hacer to do or make                                        Contar to count or to tell

    Practicar to practice                                        Mover to move something

    Sentir to feel                                                   Moverte to move one self

    Escojer to choose                                             Regresar to return

    Intentar to try                                     Estar to be (in a physical place or temporary state)


    Lección 4: Un poquito más sobre la pronunciación

    Now that you are getting familiar with the Spanish vowel code and have gained a little more confidence in your pronunciation of the vowels, it is time to learn a few more pronunciation rules.  Let’s take a look at some of the consonant letter sounds.

    The letter c, when followed by the letters, o,a, and u will always have the English k sound.  When c is followed by the letters e and i, it will make the English s sound.


    Comprar (to buy)

    Casa (house)

    Culebra (snake)

    Cebolla (onion) pronounced “Seboya”

    Ciudad (city) pronounced “Siudaud”

    The letter combination qu sounds like an English k with the u never sounding.


    Quemar (to burn) pronounced kemar

    Queso (cheese) pronounced keso

    To correctly pronounce the rr sound, relax your tongue and vibrate the tip of it against your palate just behind your front teeth.  It takes a little practice.

    There are regional variations in the pronunciation of ll and all are considered correct.  Generally, the easiest pronunciation for gringos is an English y sound.


    Llama is pronounced “yama”

    The Spanish letter j is pronounced as the English h.


    Jamón (ham) is pronounced “hamone”

    Example: jefe (boss) is pronounced “hefe”

    Lección Cinco
    To form the imperative takes a little work, but you can begin by practicing the following commands at home with your child.  (We've been playing Símon Dice so kids should be familiar with many of these)  Just say "Símon Dice" (or not) before the following commands:
    Ponte de pie.                             Stand up.
    Siéntate.                                    Sit down.
    Lee un libro invisible.            Read an invisible book.
    Pesca un pez.                             Catch a fish.
    Construye una casa invisible.         Build an invisible house.
    Patina sobre hielo.                  Ice skate.
    Esquia cuesta abajo.               Ski downhill.
    Da unas vueltas.                     Spin around.
    Salta en un pie.                        Hop on one foot.
    Canta.                                          Sing.
    Monta bicicleta.                        Ride a bike.
    Da un paso.                              Take a step.
    Cierra los ojos.                        Close your eyes.
    Abre los ojos.                           Open your eyes.
    Acuéstate                                 Lie down.
    Levántate                                 Stand up.
    Trepa un árbol.                        Climb a tree.
    Escala una montaña.            Climb a mountain.
    Da de comer a...                      Feed the...
    Bebe agua.                              Drink water.
    Planta unas semillas.             Plant some seeds.
    Nada como si fueras...         Swim as if you were a...
    Gruñe como si fueras...         Growl as if you were a...
    Baila.                                          Dance.
    Monta a caballo.                     Ride a horse.
    Escribe en el aire.                  Write in the air.
    Maneja un coche.                     Drive a car.
    Vuela como si fueras un/una...         Fly as if you were a...
    Símon Dice is a fun way to build vocabulary while developing listening skills and an understanding of the imperative verb forms.
    Let me know if you find these lessons helpful, and I'll post more!  Diviértete!