6 Screen Time Ideas for Bilingual Kids

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In this post: 5 fun ways you can turn your kid’s screen time into a Spanish learning opportunity! Discover the best Spanish educational resources for apps, TV shows, audio-video stories and more.

Does your child love to watch TV and play digital games? Do you find yourself constantly battling screen time in your home? 

If you said yes, this post is for you.

The digital gaming and media industry has boomed in recent years. From software like apps, animated shows and virtual gaming, our kids are living in a screen-obsessed digital age. 

Parental supervision of children’s media use is exhausting and often unnerving. ​​We find ourselves in a constant battle, pushing back on screen time while trying to set limits and healthy boundaries.

Despite the high level of engagement and entertainment screens provide our kids, we often worry about the long-term impact on our children’s learning and brain development. 

Although I still endeavor to engage my children in screen-free activities, I have found ways  to leverage screen time for Spanish language acquisition. Essentially, meeting them halfway, and allowing screen time for more productive learning, rather than just ‘vegging out’ in front of screens. 

Let’s explore the top ways you can leverage screen time for Spanish language learning at home.

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Use Spanish Apps

My favorite screen-based resource is Spanish apps. They are an excellent way to turn your child’s screen time into an opportunity for Spanish input because they are very interactive. 

Apps are more conducive to language learning than TV shows as they require a response from the child: they are very hands-on and engage the child through digital games like vocabulary matching, sorting and identifying. 

Apps often provide the child with an opportunity to ‘level up’ and earn rewards and incentives for making progress and completing levels. This can raise the child’s engagement and enjoyment in the learning process. 

An eye-opening article in Psychology Today actually argues that moderate use of digital games can actually be good for your child, by providing the child with a feeling of competence and autonomy.

Some of the best Spanish apps for kids include Gus on the Go, Spanish School Bus and FabuLingua. 

Gus on the Go and Spanish School Bus are perfect for preschool and early elementary as they explore Spanish basics such as counting, colors, animals, etc. 

FabuLingua is an ideal resource for slighter older children (5 and up) as it teaches literacy skills such as reading and spelling.

FabuLingua is a story learning app that teaches your child Spanish through comprehensible input: language input that children can understand despite not knowing every single word or phrase communicated.

The ‘Copycat’ feature often proves amusing for my kids! Your child listens to sentences in the story, then repeats them by recording their own voice on the app. They then listen back to compare it to the native speaker’s version. It is ideal for emergent readers and ages 5-12. 

These apps work on both Android and Apple devices.

Related post: Best Apps For Bilingual Readers

Watch Spanish Cartoons

Another fairly obvious way to leverage screen time for Spanish learning is with children’s TV shows and cartoons

However, for beginners, simply switching the language settings over to the target language may not help your child learn the language. This may just create a lot of ‘noise’ for the child causing frustration.

What works better, is choosing Spanish language learning shows that actually support your child’s language acquisition. These are Spanish shows designed to teach the language as well as entertain your child.

Some of our favorite Spanish TV shows include Oh, Noah on PBS Kids. Noah is a boy whose dominant language is English but he’s living in a Spanish-speaking country. 

The episodes are about him going about his day trying to communicate with the locals and learning new words and phrases. I also really appreciate PBS Kids for the assurance of safe and age-appropriate content.

Other great shows are Dora la Exploradora (available on Amazon Video and Nick Jr) and Daniel Tigre (also on PBS Kids). 

These are very popular shows that support your child’s language learning while exploring important themes and values like friendship, helping people and sharing.

Related Post: Huge List of Disney Songs for Kids

Watch Spanish Movies

Another fun way to leverage screen time is by turning family movie nights into a Spanish learning experience! There are so many fun Spanish movies for kids available on popular channels like Netflix and Disney +.

Instead of watching movies that are just translations, why not explore authentic Latino movies that explore the cultures and traditions of Spanish-speaking countries?

Some of our favorites on Disney + include Encanto, a sweet story based in Colombia about a magical casita and a family with unique gifts.

The movie’s song “No se habla de Bruno” went viral across the globe, surpassing popular songs from other movies like Frozen. 

Another family favorite is Coco, a beautiful and vibrant story rooted in the traditions of El día de los muertos (day of the dead), a celebration that happens every year in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd.

Other authentic Spanish movies include:

  • Ferdinand (Amazon Video) ~ an animated story about the life of a bull in Spain.
  • El Libro de la Vida (Amazon Video) ~ an animated story based in Mexico about a love triangle!
  • Casi Casi (Netflix) ~ an amusing movie based in a Catholic school in Puerto Rico as Emilio tries to win the heart of a popular girl. For older kids!
  • Cantinflas (Amazon Video) ~ based in Mexico, this biographical movie and comedy drama is about the life of a comedy film star.

Related Post: Brilliant List of Latino Movies you will Love!

Use Audio-Video Books

Children’s literacy has come a long way from picture books! 

Recently I discovered a Spanish education company that has harnessed the power of audio-video stories to teach children a language and develop their literacy skills.

Audio-video books are stories that are in a video format, but often include a physical version of the book too, so the family can read in tandem.

Engaging the child in digital stories is a powerful and effective way to teach a language. We particularly enjoy Feppy Books and their bilingual audio-video stories with gentle animations.

This also allows the child to develop their listening skills without the overstimulation that many cartoons cause.  

Related Post: Feppy Box Review

Another great resource for audio-video books is The Fable Cottage

From popular fairy tales like Cinderella and Rapunzel, to timeless fables like The Fox and the Crow and Chicken Little, your child will love these beautifully animated audio-video stories in Spanish.

They offer other languages too including French, German, Italian and English. You can get full access by joining an affordable annual membership.

You can watch Pollito Tito here on YouTube to experience one of their audio-video stories.

https://youtu.be/UijM1gt0-hM (YouTube link for Pollito Tito).

Want to explore Spanish curriculum on your own? Check out this Spanish curriculum. Use code puravidamoms for 10% off.

Watch YouTube Channels

Although I dislike the lack of parental control that comes with YouTube, and even YouTube Kids, as well as the frequent ads, I do find their Spanish video and music channels to support my kids’ language input. Plus it’s FREE which is always a bonus!

There are many fun Spanish channels but our favorites are Spanish nursery rhymes and Spanish yoga for kids.

Our top picks include:

  • Brenda Yoga ~ yoga for kids led by Brenda, a native Spanish speaker 
  • Canta con Jess ~ Spanish songs led by Jess, a native Spanish speaker
  • Tooby’s Español ~ Spanish nursery rhymes
  • Canticos ~ Bilingual nursery rhymes
  • Super Simple Español ~ Spanish nursery rhymes

https://youtu.be/3bjggxDiXyk (brenda yoga)

https://youtu.be/BD9ULInjZTs (Canta con Jess)

https://youtu.be/0IRTPAPNhjM (Tooby’s Español)

https://youtu.be/-cTLIfGkobw (Canticos)

https://youtu.be/SCKOl5Dluiw (Super Simple Español)

YouTube is a really great and free option for Spanish input, but just be vigilant and aware of your child’s consumption.

Related Post: Learn Spanish on YouTube as an Adult

So there you have it! Five simple ways to leverage screen time for Spanish learning and language input. I hope you enjoy tweaking your child’s use of devices with these tips to nurture a healthy relationship with digital media.

Want to explore Spanish curriculum on your own? Check out this Spanish curriculum. Use code puravidamoms for 10% off.

This is a guest post by Corrie Wiik. Corrie is raising bilingual children in San Diego, CA. She is a former Spanish teacher and the founder of the Spanish education blog Mama Llama Linguist and curriculum shop Llamitas Spanish. You can also connect with her on Instagram @mamallamalinguist and follow her on Pinterest

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Christa Jimenez

Welcome! I’m Christa, a Spanish teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. We’ve spent over 25 years living in and traveling to Costa Rica with our daughters, and this website is my love letter to all things Costa Rica- and to bilingual parenting too. You can read my full story here. Thanks for stopping by!

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