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How to Raise Bilingual Kids with the Help of Entertainment and Tech

Help your kids practice their Spanish at home with books, movies, TV shows, apps, and more.

Child smiling and using a tablet next to caregiver

Whether you primarily speak Spanish at home or it's a second language that needs practice, raising bilingual children is a big commitment. But even though it can be challenging, it's definitely worth the effort.

Many studies confirm the benefits of being bilingual. Around the world, more than 559 million people speak Spanish, and it's spoken at home by 13% of the American population. As the numbers keep growing, Spanish fluency in the U.S. will be very valuable for school and job opportunities. Raising your kids to be bilingual will also help them learn about other cultures and maybe even get closer to their own.

Here are some tips on how to use books, movies, TV shows, apps, and more to nurture your kids' bilingualism at home:

  • Choose Spanish audio when you watch TV shows and movies. Listening to the language will help kids develop their ear for it. Do this by changing your television's Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) or the settings on streaming platforms.

  • Listen to audiobooks and podcasts in Spanish. Audiobooks and podcasts can help your kids get more familiar with Spanish sounds. They also help with pronunciation and deeper understanding. Check out free audiobooks at your local library or create your own stories to make it more personal.

  • Read books together to increase vocabulary and learn grammar. Start with bilingual books or ones with Spanish. Read them to your kids if you can, or find people fluent in Spanish to read to them. For little kids whose mother tongue is Spanish, this is especially important. Research shows that developing literacy skills in Spanish first helps young kids with their English reading skills.

  • Read the news from other countries. If your children are curious about the world, reading the news is another way to improve language skills. Websites like Newsela offer age-appropriate articles in English and Spanish.

  • Try apps that support your kids' growing vocabulary. Some apps let you change the primary language. There are also plenty of apps for all ages that show the diversity of Latino cultures and communities.

  • Explore digital storytelling apps. Encourage your kids to express themselves in Spanish with the help of online storytelling apps. Have them practice by writing stories in Spanish. They can also share them with friends or family who may understand it.

  • Watch movies and TV shows about Spanish-speaking countries. Find movies and TV shows in Spanish about history, culture, and everyday life around the world. Watch together with your child so you can explain new words and make connections to your family's culture and heritage. If you've been to the places you see on-screen or have experienced the traditions, share your own stories or memories.

Ashley Canales contributed to this article.

Maria Oxalide Alvarez
Maria O. Alvarez is the former vice president for family and community engagement at Common Sense. She created and led Common Sense Latino, as well as the family and community engagement team. Maria is passionate about connecting with families and responding to their unique media and technology needs, and empowering them to navigate the digital world with confidence. She is the proud mom of two bilingual and bicultural boys.